August 19, 2007

September's Wallpaper



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Once again, we have corporate media caught up in the wave of a sell job.

With the Administration’s “show progress” deadline fast approaching, Sunday’s NYT offered not one, but two high-profile stories pitching “improvement propaganda.”  In the front page piece, we are informed that Fallujah is calm — but will probably not remain that way if America choses to cut and run pull out.  In an inside piece (U.S.-Backed Plan for Sunni Neighborhood Guards Is Tested – link), we learn about the suddenly-breakthrough concept (extrapolated mostly from one locale, Ghazaliya) of contracting Sunni security forces from local “tribal groups.”

What is soft peddled in both articles is the fact that these deputized militias, consisting of previously designated bad guys and/or bands of hitherto insurgents are, for the present, being bought off to act (under the necessarily close supervision of U.S. military) like local security — mostly in place of the Iraqi police and military we have given up trying to work with.

Whereas the Neighborhood Guard photo offers Bush marketing director Gen. Petraeus gleefully pumping hands with members of the newly minted, freshly named and custom outfitted “GG Force” (ladies and gentlemen, the Ghazaliya Guardians!), it seems telling the three props recruits fail to  pay much heed to a great military celebrity.

The Fallujah photo from yesterday’s front page is a little more involved.  According to the caption, we see “Fallujah residents” (i.e. former and potential evil doers) lined up to join an “auxiliary force” (i.e. independent U.S.-backed paramilitary group) to “bolster” (i.e. cooperate for pay with) the local police.  By the way, those are local police in the foreground (behind the barricade) deemed to be “guarding a suspect.”

What we see, at surface level, is a telegraph to the American audience that, short of doing something stupid (like changing course), we’re finally managing to pacify the restive male population of Fallujah, and elsewhere.  At the next level, of course, the image elaborates the mechanism behind September’s sales pitch. Through this lens, we see the procedure of carving up cities into smaller and smaller cordoned quadrants, along with the recruitment of bands (that would otherwise actively hate us) to keep everyone else that hates us off our backs.

( image 1: Spencer Platt/Getty Images.  August 18, 2007.  image 2: Marko Georgiev for the NY Times.  July 2007.  Fallujah, Iraq.

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Michael Shaw
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