Did you notice the lovely mini-push last week to establish that Iraq was on the upswing?
Besides the widespread coverage of the drop in one-month Iraqi casualty figures (yay, only lost 1,227!), Michael Gordon and the NYT delivered a perfectly pollyanna-ish piece about the bloom of local cooperation in Baquba. According to the article, the U.S. standing has so turned around, local Sunni’s are now pouring out of the wood work to to rat out their brethren.
The visual evidence is imaginative. Leading the story (as well as Friday’s NYT front page) was this shot of locals in the Buhritz section of Baquba reportedly revealing enemy locations to a U.S. captain.
Far more iconic, however, was the shot above from the accompanying slide show.
Playing on Islamic norms for the etiquette of friendship and the maintenance of attention, the photo — of a local community leader and an Iraqi police lieutenant hand-in-hand — only reinforces, to an American viewer, the propaganda thesis that a deep and close bond has suddenly sprung up between our (otherwise barely manageable and hardly affiliated) Iraqi military partners and the (constantly gaming and splintered) local militia factions.
(One more irritant in the article, and something I’ve been wanting to mention, by the way, is the growing media practice of nominally tying most insurgent activity in Iraq to al Qaeda — and thus, to Osama and 9/11).
Anyway, last week’s brief lull spasmodically ended with the massive bombing in Amerli (above), and more attacks in Baghdad (WAPO pic/ story link). In light of this resumption, the intimation of love and partner-in-arms becomes a cruel joke.
(image 1: Scott Nelson/World Picture Network, for The New York Times. Baquba, Iraq July 2007. nytimes.com. image 2: Agence France-Presse — Getty Images. July 8, 2007. Amerli , Iraq. nytimes.com)