June 28, 2007

Baquba #1


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Scott Nelson’s photos for the NYT this week make the intensely fierce, but largely ambiguous U.S. attack on Baquba seem only that much more so.

Take this shot from Saturday, for example, of a U.S. soldier strapped with shoulder-fired grenades.  The accompanying article paints a blurry picture of continuous detonation, with U.S. “combat engineers” engaged in a back-and-forth, street-to-street blast-a-thon with their Iraqi antagonists.

As success, or even the definition of it, moves further out of reach, the visual narrative become that much more bizarre.  Is the I.E.D.-addled U.S. fighting man morphing into a cyborg?  Or does this matériel (and Nelson’s clever capture of it) represent a mockery of the suicide belt?

…And then, if it is a mockery (with our military so desperate to demonstrate some efficacy), exactly who’s being mocked?

(image: Scott Nelson/World Picture Network, for The New York Times. Baquba, Iraq, June 2007.  nytimes.com)

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Michael Shaw
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