Guest post by Duncan
The images of Iraqis celebrating following their national team’s Asian Cup success look suspiciously like the ‘victory’ photos following the ‘toppling’ of Saddam’s statue in 2003. In other words, all circus and no bread. Just beneath the euphoria, however, is the reality is that sectarian violence and escalation will likely continue, regardless of whatever happens on a soccer field.
If national sport has always been a propaganda tool, the Iraq images serve a unique function.
The media has offered few pictures of the game or its players. Instead, you mostly see people waving flags in the street, or cheering the TV. Beyond strength in the face of hopelessness or pride for an imagined nation state, the celebration images serve the Administration strategy of justifying an occupation and a war. U.S. viewers don’t identify with the event, but rather share in the “victory” of people supposedly overcoming the fear of insurgency.
Because Americans, more so than most, tend toward outward demonstrations of patriotism, these photos also create a point of identification with the Iraqi people, supporting the fiction of unity under a single flag.
(images: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images. July 2007. nytimes.com)