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May 20, 2007

Seeing Iraq Through The Heat Of Battle, Politics (And, Oh Yeah, A Cover On The Lens Cap!)


Joao Silva's image in this morning's NYT Week In Review is simply eloquent in the way it evokes, but also pragmatically undermines the piece it accompanies.

The article, In the Heat of Battle and Politics, the Hard Facts Melt, asks  "How can a single country look so kaleidoscopically different depending on the point of view?"  In the text, the problems in perception are attributed to: 1.) competing political agendas; 2.) the breakdown in the flow of information out of the Iraqi government;  3.) The growing "blanket of security" between Iraqi officials and life in Baghdad; and  4.) The desire of American officials to only hear what they want to hear.

What the photo implies, however -- which the more lofty and analytical article seemed intent on looking beyond -- is how much perceptual problem regarding Iraq are being caused by the pure physical inability to see and hear.

Which brings me to an attendant political consequence the article might have referenced, which is: censorship.  In another piece of news mostly noticed by the blogosphere, it was reported on Friday that the Iraqi government has banned media coverage of bombings.  (See the IraqSlogger report here.)  Given this news, its curious to take a fresh pass at Mr. Silva's caption:

OBSCURED. Basic information like how many civilians have died can be impossible to pin down in Iraq. At left, the aftermath of a suicide bombing.

The main reason Iraq looks "so kaleidoscopically different," at this point, is because the place is sheer chaos and because (for both practical and political reasons) there are just not enough independent eyes available through which to monitor hell.

(image: Joao Silva.  May 2007.  Iraq.


Well the BAG said it all, there is nothing to add except that "sheer chaos" should be recognizable to everybody as a failure of the American agenda, but apparently it's not, there are still some folks who think everything in Iraq is okay and the liberal media is just out to make Bush look bad.

These folks, however, do not live in Iraq I suspect.

Running into wall of fog...
Unimaginable? what they are running from...
Is it the presence of horrors seeded by occupiers?

The number of civilians killed in Iraq is not obscure. The Lancet did a fantastic, scientific study about a year ago that put the number at about 650,000 at that time. They since have said that the conditions are now so chaotic that the study could not be reliable done again. The fog is, literally, of our own making.

They seem to be running into the fire, I suspect that its the smoke and debris of another explosion (their wearing the blue of Iraqi police officers).

Wait. I'm confused. Are you telling me civilians have died in Iraq? How did that happen! I thought "steps can be taken to minimize such damage and casualties."

Lovely picture of the fog of war....

Two figures rushing headlong into the dark of the night. A perfect metaphor for Iraq.

You know, it even has an underwater feel to it. Like it was taken at the bottom of some deep sea. An abyss where blind creatures scuttle about feeding off the carcasses that float down from another world.

My first impression of the picture was "Oh, here is a photo of 9/11" and then I read the caption and realized I was wrong. Sort of.

It also looks like a huge storm wall, sorta like Katrina?

Either way, those two men are screwed.

My first reaction was kinda what lytom said: What are they running FROM that makes the murky, unnatural blue-green look INVITING?

Or, as raphael and lowly grunt comment, first responders heading into someplace bad.

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