January 26, 2007

The Writing Is On The Wall


(click for full size)

With the Stateside surge in surge talk, and Mr. Rove’s success in embedding that term into the political lexicon (although Central Command lacks the men, resources, local alliances or even the basic foothold to implement anything close to what the strategy implies), some of the pictures — if you read them carefully — provide curious insight into the escalating insanity of Bush’s “what now?

A NYT article and slide show, published Tuesday, offers a vivid window into the reality “on the ground,” as they say.  The feature captures one of America’s new “neighborhood” units in Baghdad, sandwiched between Sunni-dominated Ghazaliya and the largely Shiite section of Shula, prepared to do … what exactly?

The scenes and circumstances not only depress, but reveal how Bush, by strong-arming the military, has effected the implementation of a plan we are clearly not ready or able to carry out.  (As if in fateful acknowledgment, the Company named its outpost “The Alamo.”)  Though well-intentioned, these 105 soldiers seem to have no idea who they’re fighting, or if the people they are patching up are the ones they just finished shooting at, or how to verify what the men they’ve apprehended are even culpable of.

In particular, this photo exemplifies why America should not be involved militarily in Iraq anymore — at least, not in a blind twisted game that makes us pawns of one faction one minute, and a different one the next.

On the wall (in plain English, of course) is an admonition from a pro-Sunni faction, urging the American’s to destroy the J.A.M., which the NYT reporter explains is an acronym for the Mahdi Army.  As a commentary in itself, the phrasing of the graffiti captures the gullibility and the “just do it” bent of the American mission.  “Hey Americans…” the words begin, fully cognizant — like those on the street always are — of the stranger’s myopia.  It’s just like how it works in the everyday world: the moment you don’t know what to do, everyone is suddenly plying you with advice.

When you do have an idea what you’re doing, however, people mostly stop trying to lobby, taunt, or order you around so much.  They might try and make you go away, but they’re not going to waste the energy offering you advice on where to stand.

As usual, I encourage your comments on this, and all the images in the slide show.  As a recent Friday tradition, first time and just-new commenters are especially welcome!

Story: “In the Vortex of Baghdad, Staying Put This Time” — hereSlide showhere.

(image: Johan Spanner for The New York Times.  Baghdad. January 2006.  nyt.com)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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