October 15, 2009

Facing Afghanistan

The image above by photographer and friend of BAGnews (1, 2) Peter van Agtmael leads a NYT audio slide show, “Two Weeks in Forever” (and though I’m not 100%, I think these photos will also be featured, as part of this article, in the upcoming NYT Mag).

The photo doesn’t just bring into sharp focus the haplessness of the U.S. engagement, but crystallizes it and shouts it out. The faces and the framing convey the American troops as directionless, ultimately on their own and verging on humiliation. Adding the really young-looking fourth guy to the mix ( an Afghan translator, perhaps?) drives home the sense of these troops as lost and scared (and, to many right wingers, emasculated) children. And then, the make-shift, light porous roof it that much more evidence of a fundamental lack of a foothold (especially for the fourth guy) from the fuzzy situation just beyond.

(image: Peter van Agtmael/Magnum, for The New York Times. caption: A DAILY BATTLE Members of the 2/8 Battalion in Garmsir. Inside the town, life is fairly normal. Outside, the Taliban are a constant threat.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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