November 24, 2007

Hussein Update (plus: Bombs The Way)


(click for full size)

If you didn’t know anything about the photo, you might assume you were looking at damage inflicted on Lebanon by the Israeli Air Force in Summer ’06.  In fact, this picture  — dating back to October 2004 and the American siege of Fallujah — is significant for two reasons.

First, it leads off an excellent msnbc slide show collecting, in one place, a sample of photos by  photographer Bilal Hussein.  If you’re not up on the story, Hussein — who was part of a group of AP photographers that earned a Pulitzer prize in 2005 for their work in Iraq — has been held by the U.S. Military in Iraq for more than a year-and-a-half.  His detention followed allegations by right-wing bloggers (simply based on the content of his photos) that he was connected with insurgents.

(Scott Horton at Harpers discusses the flimsiness of the impending criminal charges to be filed against Hussein by the DOD.)

Second, the photograph foreshadows a strategy that has been gaining momentum since the beginning of the year (if not well before that).  Despite reports that coalition airstrikes in Iraq have increased fourfold in the first nine months of this year over ’06, both the fact, and the fallout, seems to to get little play in the domestic media.  (Notice, by the way, how the USAT piece I just linked to parrots military talking points that munitions are more accurate and less lethal.  As Air Force Brig. Gen. Stephen Mueller says in the article: a lot of today’s bombs are now “designed to take one building and not the whole block.”)

Still, I doubt you can say that blowing up fewer Iraqis (especially innocent civilians), while affording the ability to place fewer American boots on the ground, is doing a lot for winning hearts and minds.

(image: Bilal Hussein/AP.  Fallujah.  October 12, 2004.  via

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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