January 13, 2012

Still More Disturbing Pictures from the Afghan War: Obama and the Too-Shiny Marine

The approval of Meyer’s medal — in an unusually short time — came as lawmakers and serving and former officers pressed the military services and the Pentagon to award more Medals of Honor because of the relatively few conferred in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

… As the Afghan and Iraq wars wind down, senior Marine Corps officials conceded the pressure to award more medals, and to do it quickly. One senior Marine official told McClatchy that the service felt that it deserved the decoration after having served in the toughest, most violent areas of Afghanistan and Iraq.

… While there’s no indication that the White House knew that Obama was narrating an embellished story — to an audience of several hundred Meyer family members, top officials, lawmakers and service members — the revelations could tarnish one of the signature moments of his time as commander in chief.

— Quotes from “Marines promoted inflated story for Medal of Honor recipient,” Wednesday, December 14, 2011. Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers

After focusing yesterday on the image of Marines urinating on dead Taliban fighters, I wanted to call out a couple other visuals that also put a different visual spin on the Afghan War. You will probably remember photos from last September of Obama awarding Marine Dakota Meyer the Medal of Honor — the third living honoree since the Vietnam, and the first living Marine in 38 years to receive the medal.

Of course, the White House took maximum advantage of the recognition which not only included rafts of photos from the ceremony, but also a coveted beer with the President on the private Oval Office patio back in mid-September.

The only trouble is, the account of the battle that Meyer’s award was based on — an account Obama himself recited in detail during the medal ceremony at the White House — turned out to be heavily embellished. That development might have caused more of a stir except for the fact the extensively researched story surfaced just before Christmas, and was reported by McClatchy, a news organization less in sync with the media establishment than known for its independence and assuredness in speaking truth to power.

For the full McClatchy story, you can find it here.

For our purposes here, though, I’m as much interested in the visuals as they serve the interests of the propaganda machine, the selling of a decade-long Neocon vision andwar on Islam, and the attendant need to almost manically make heros and saints of our troops. Whether we’re looking at photos of Dakota Meyer or screenshots of those Marines in the video yesterday, perhaps what we’re really looking at are cultural victims whose primary failing is to stand for the Grand Canyon-size gap between a war off its rails and the deep-rooted propaganda effort that’s still in place to sell it.

(photos: Pete Souza caption 2: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wait with Dakota Meyer in the Blue Room of the White House before the start of the Medal of Honor presentation ceremony in the East Room, Sept. 15, 2011. Meyer, then a Marine Corps Corporal, received the Medal of Honor for his actions on Sept. 8, 2009, while serving in the Kunar Province, Afghanistan.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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