October 5, 2009

Afghanistan Update: In a Bind

With the war in Afghanistan at the top of the list of political footballs this week, I’m curious about this photo on the cover of the new TIME.

Part of a photo series, it’s a view, taken from above, of a wounded soldier on a stretcher. The image has a strange resonance, however, given the right wing’s sudden focus on every injury as evidence of Presidential negligence in not escalating the war, as well as liberal protest that the war is pointless to pursue.

Given the cropping and the counterintuitive fact of the man eyes-closed smoking a cigarette, the photo could as well be seen as a straight-on view, as if the soldier was upright. Given that sense, the reading is flat-out abusive — as if our soldiers, otherwise “Army strong,” are being bound or arm-tied (going so far as to reference a last cigarette before a firing squad) or led blind into the fight.

Either way you read it though, upright or the soldier on his back (and just laying alone on the ground?), it looks bad.

(4:15 pst; 10:25pm – minor edits)

(image: Adam Ferguson/VII Mentor)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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