June 28, 2014

Charlie's Angels

No, I’m not mocking the Iraqi Army, or the seriousness of the country’s unraveling, or the fact lives are on the line. What I am poking fun at are all the cool and “stage-y” news pictures that end up illustrating a critical story mostly because they’re available. The training photos of green Iraqi Army recruits in Baghdad are as much a performance for international media as an attempt to assert that the state, and the organized defense of that state, still has some coherence. They also fill a news hole because the Iraq war is on again and it’s too dangerous these days to secure more informative conflict photos or views of the battle. But there’s a price to be paid — in context and information value —  as Baghdad makes a show of it. If the photo rings hollow, it’s not just because of how posed and promotional it is, these guys in their spotless new uniforms and their spanking new boots. It’s also the sense you get of the five soldiers with those two uniformed boys as bookends. Their presence, and inquisitiveness, makes this scene — counter to the crisis and how dire it is — seem far too much like play acting.

Via Boston Big Picture: “The crisis in Iraq: Thousands train to fight against militant Islamic State in Iraq and Syria”

(photo: Haidar Mohammed Ali/AFP/Getty Images caption: Newly-recruited Iraqi volunteers in army uniforms attend a training session on June 20, 2014, in the southern city of Basra as thousands of Shiite volunteers join Iraqi security forces in the fight against Jihadist militants who have taken over several northern Iraqi cities. Dozens of Iraqis crowd shops in central Baghdad scouting for military helmets, boots and camouflage uniforms as they prepare to volunteer to fight against a major militant offensive.)

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Michael Shaw
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