Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
November 3, 2007

It's still the same old story/A fight for love and glory


I know I promised a post about Bush and the fires, but I’m holding off to address the breaking news from Pakistan.

…But then, what does this photo (of soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division kissing the ground upon returning home from a 15 month tour in Iraq) have to do with Musharraf declaring emergency rule/martial law?  Well, as the lead image on Saturday’s NYT front page, it’s the photo (one might argue) that establishes the tone for the events later in the day.

When I saw the this shot in the morning, my thought was: this might be the first and last emotionally-uncomplicated act these men will experience in their post-war lives, provided they even stay stateside that long.  As I said, that was before the new headline.

With the destruction of Iraq serving as the lynch pin for a decompensating Afghanistan and Pakistan (and a fracturing between Turkey and Kurdistan), what is the meaning or possible justification of such a visual act?

If kissing this tarmac (the concrete embodiment of the military establishment) is, even partially, an expression of love toward a homeland which sent these men away to the wrong place for the wrong reason (while the real al-Qaeda successfully chisels away at South Asia), this image has almost the feeling of a sexualized supplication ritual.

(image: Chang W. Lee/New York Times.  Fort Drum, N.Y.  November 3, 2007)

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