May 21, 2007

Green Zone As Metaphor


Yesterday, I commented on a NYT WIR piece about the “fuzzyness” involved in defining the Iraqi picture.

Thinking about it overnight, I have to differ.  Censorship and limited access to battle zones not withstanding, I think more and more definitive evidence — at least, of a visual kind — has been showing up for weeks now. Take the photo above, for example.  If you don’t recognize it, it was taken on April 12th in the cafeteria of the Iraqi Parliament following a suicide bombing on premises.

This shot is not just the record of a single incident.  Rather, it is an iconic image, representative of two things:  1.) The inherent vulnerability of the inner sanctum of America’s primary security zone, and  2.) The inability of the Americans to absolutely secure a single make-or-break piece of Iraqi real estate.

Without following the daily Green Zone report, I know that The Green Zone was hit twelve days ago, while Dick Cheney was in the complex, supposedly offering some steadying influence.  The Green Zone was also hit three times in three days, culminating with a substantial attack on the U.S. military base in Taji eight days ago.

One thing that makes an image an icon is the ability to extrapolate the general from the specific, and then offer conclusions.  Is it simply coincidence this photo, like the image The Times published with its story yesterday, is defined by obscurity, cataclysm, and the inability to even tell night from day?

Once the goal in Iraq was the security of hearts and minds. Now viability rests on the ability to secure a couple of neighborhoods.  How do you make that argument, however, when you cannot secure this single place?

(image: A.P. TV/A.P. Baghdad. April 12, 2007. via YahooNews)

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Michael Shaw
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