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Feb 15, 2005

Fallujah: Something of an Update

Looking at pictures from Fallujah, it seems there's no "there" there.  Rather than images of people situated to place, you see people trying to get someplace, or looking anxious and out of sorts because the right place does not feel right anymore. 

From the news pictures -- an always too-arbitrary collection of shots from photographers typically tied to military units  -- it seems that Falloujah has become a twilight zone of checkpoints and security stops.  The original goal may have been to rid the town of insurgents while maintaining the structural and social fabric, but that seems like a cruel joke at this point -- as optimistic as the Humpty Dumpty rhyme.  Instead, the scenes from Fallujah suggest physical, emotional and sensory disorientation, both for the occupied and the occupiers.  (And, God forbid you should be a young male in that city right now.  You could chalk up the better part of each day to rolling up you pant legs and emptying out your pockets.)


In an image that shows that primitivism doesn't play favorites, this is a group of marines studying a map of a section of town they've made out of bricks.  In the upside-down world these guys now inhabit, it's a little hard to tell if it's night or day, if they are inside or outside, or if they really know where they're going.


What's noteworthy about this shot (besides the gesture of the girl) is that fact that the red "X" so competes with the house number.  Apparently, the mark indicates the house has been searched. (I actually stumbled upon a brief article in the Salt Lake Tribune written by the photographer who took these photos.  Her comments made me feel a lot less blind.)

The small percentage of people who have returned to their homes apparently spend a lot of time watching the watchers.  The article says that Iraqi's will "run outside to watch when tanks grumble past" and that children will "cover their ears against the noise."  Are the tanks really that loud?  I would have to guess so.  But perhaps this girl also has more to shut out then just the passing vehicle. 


As I mentioned before, the young men are all targets. 

Here, the American young man eyes the Iraqi young man sitting in front of his house, hunched forward in a pensive pose.  According to the article, the Marines routinely pull these boys aside "to make quick mugshots in case of future troubles."  (Notice how the soldier literally casts a shadow on the boy.) 

Besides the red "X's," the houses are also marked with map grid numbers.  According to the article, the family will write ''Family leaves here'' or ''Family in the home,'' to indicate that they have moved back in.  It's a slight thing, but I can't help wondering if the word "leaves" -- instead of "lives" -- in the previous sentence was an unconscious slip on the part of the photographer (similar to her description of the tank as "grumbling"), or else a direct quote. 

Beside how rudimentary they are, it's a little jarring to me to see these map numbers.  In a city which I assume has street names and house numbers, it's too bad the Marines must indecorously mark each house, street and block with a completely alien notation. It's also ironic the Marines and the Iraqis are so similarly wary and disoriented, but must experience it in such completely separate spheres.


If anything, this shot is most representative of the Fallujah pictures I saw.  If you're a resident, life is filled with a lot of red cones, hastily made footpaths that funnel you toward checkpoints, and military guys going through your bag. 

The doll's head really made me sad.  It's a chilling marker that could suggest a thousand things.  It evokes little blonde girls who couldn't be further away.  It refers back to the little girl holding her ears, and the emotional punctures she endures.  And, it indicates that the people here have no real physicality anymore. 

(images: Anja Niedringhaus/Associated Press in Yahoo News)


When was the last time the msm mentioned the devastated city? The last we heard was that the heroic US forces had 'eradicated' the insurgency in the 3rd largest city in the country, which only took them several months and 2 major offensives. It might be that the destroyed city, and its shell shocked citizens don't have the same PR appeal as a young GI smoking a Marlboro and looking fatigued, as he gazes upon a city that resembles Dresden. I recently read a report from the Pentagon indicating that US forces would remain in Iraq for a minimum of 2 years. I strongly doubt that in that span, the once proud city of Fallujah will rise from the ashes. Where the f is that $18 billion in reconstructon funds? Apparently less than 15% has been spent on actual reconstruction programs, while an Islamic theocracy prepares to run the country; yep, misson accomplished alright, if you're bin Laden, that is.

The second image really got to me, the one with the little girl. Just her expression and body language says a lot about what's going on over there and how it has affected her -- body, mind, and spirit.

There are no street names or house numbers in Iraq. The only way for Soldiers and Marines to identify one house from another is by marking it.

Yes it invokes images of four burned North Carolina homies hanging from the bridge with the residents dancing in the streets, it was long overdue and it sends a message that must be sent

Do you remember when white people in North Carolina used to hang the Blacks from brides and burn them?
Of course the Blacks were not actually participating in an Satanic Imperialist Adventure, but rather were victims of another Satanic imerialism...
Hey...Wait a minute...

Fly, Your four homies were mercenaries. Dogs of War. Operating in an illegal invasion.
I hope they ALL die.

We seem to have missed the point. We can not win this country. Just think how long they have been and we are only 200 years old.They will just sit and wait for us to wear out and I do not blame them. Why are we there any how?

so fly--
you are saying the US is justified in leveling fullajah because 4 American civilians were killed--even though they were mercenaries.

by that logic--you are saying that Iraqis are justified in killing Americans if an American kills an Iraqi civilian--aka collateral damage.

over 100,000 iraqi civilians dead so far---

so you back the iraqi resistance as long as the individual in the resistance is avenging a civilian death.

somehow I bet you will find a reason why it is good for the U to kill but bad for the Iraqis to kill in return.

I am sure that if the shoe was on the other foot and Iraq invaded and occupied the US for stockpiling WMD's (which we do) and used them in battle (which we have) then you would not fight and would accept your liberators and any people the Iraqis felt neccesary to put in power. Right?

Good comment, Mahoney. Most Americans, like vampires, can look in a mirror and see everyone but themselves. We could all save ourselves a lot of trouble by putting the shoe on the other foot when judging the actions of others.

Except for 'fly", it looks like this group is ripe for the picking for future suicide bombers. The mindset of hate is certainly there.

What is it like living underneath that bridge that you haunt? I mean isn't that were trolls normally live? Surely you jest when making such a brainless statement when fly daddy here is obviously under the impression that death and destruction are merely necessary messages to be sent back and forth between opposing perpsectives in a perpetual game of tit for tat revenge. Isn't that precisely what terrorists do? Send messages in the same manner without respect to the value of the human lives they are using to do so? What makes a suicide bomber is the belief that their lives are less important or valuable than their deaths. Why would they consider anyone else's in greater terms than their own? Flyboy exhibits the same mindset yet that managed to alude you???? Interesting... that tropical sun in Hawaii must be responsible eh?

Strange thing about Fly's comment. When I first read it, I was astonished. I thought he meant that the four dead mercenaries was a long overdue message. A bold thought.

A lot of wisdom in pjr and William Mahoney's comments.

America is the only country to have dropped an Atomic weapons on civilian populations.

Centuries will not suffice to pay these debts of blood.

Excellent choice of pictures. First two photographs, very good photography.

When possible you should start crediting your photos.

Like the site concept very much.

Occupied countries create freedom fighters.
Freedom fighters kill occupying soldiers.
Occupying soldiers punish the freedom fighters by killing civilians.
Sadly, were it always thus.
We should not be there - we are all tainted by the Bush/Blair crusade.

I'm amazed at how much much hatred we hold for our fellow Americans and less for those who have killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people. (ie Bin-Laden, Hussein, the Japanese (check your history books)) Also, mercenaries are non-military people hired to KILL people. Again, please use words in their proper context. Show your intelligence as a liberal.

I hold no hatred for my "fellow (US)Americans," and in fact I hold no hatred for any of my fellow human beings.

So, you make the point, Tiger, "we" (humans) have all killed too many innocents to count. When does it become the right thing to do?

I believe "we" (US Americans) should not have attacked Saddam's country because Bin Laden (who was from Saudi Arabia, had no support from Saddam, and is presumably living in Afghanistan) attacked us. I believe it would have been wrong for "us" to attack anyone. If "we" would have just done "our" intelligence (I use the word lightly) correctly, "we" could have found him (Bin Laden) and arrested him. Sure, "we" may have lost a few sodiers (certainly far less than the 1800+ that we've lost so far), and "we" may have had to kill a few innocents (again far far FAR fewer than have been killed already), but "we" could have captured Bin Laden and he could have stood trial.

Would that have ended terrorism? Not likely. But "we" would be better off now than "we" are currently.

I cannot accept the suggestion that the US invasion of Iraq was the Right Thing, and it's obvious that it's only made a bad situation worse.

Let me clarify my thoughts. The "NC Homies" that I was referencing, were tortured and burned and hung from the bridge. These were Americans and employees of a NC Based security company that were sent into Fallujah to set up security to make it safer for the residents. Much has happened since.. Fallujah has been rebuilt and is relatively safe today. A majority of you are terrorists, traitors, unpatriotic and should move to france along with your fellow cheese eating surrender monkeys. I should have revisted this blog a long time ago while you had your little cheese eating surrender party during my failure to revisit. I have been busy supporting the USA, our Great President and voting Republican like all patriots must do. You can all go to hell, thank you.

flyonthewall > "Fallujah has been rebuilt and is relatively safe today".

Fly, you must have privileged or classified information, I'm satisfied however if you direct me to reliable sources which might not jeopardize National Security and which support your rosy Fallujah status. thanks, jt

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