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Nov 03, 2007

It's still the same old story/A fight for love and glory

10Th-Mountain

I know I promised a post about Bush and the fires, but I'm holding off to address the breaking news from Pakistan.

...But then, what does this photo (of soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division kissing the ground upon returning home from a 15 month tour in Iraq) have to do with Musharraf declaring emergency rule/martial law?  Well, as the lead image on Saturday's NYT front page, it's the photo (one might argue) that establishes the tone for the events later in the day.

When I saw the this shot in the morning, my thought was: this might be the first and last emotionally-uncomplicated act these men will experience in their post-war lives, provided they even stay stateside that long.  As I said, that was before the new headline.

With the destruction of Iraq serving as the lynch pin for a decompensating Afghanistan and Pakistan (and a fracturing between Turkey and Kurdistan), what is the meaning or possible justification of such a visual act?

If kissing this tarmac (the concrete embodiment of the military establishment) is, even partially, an expression of love toward a homeland which sent these men away to the wrong place for the wrong reason (while the real al-Qaeda successfully chisels away at South Asia), this image has almost the feeling of a sexualized supplication ritual.


(image: Chang W. Lee/New York Times.  Fort Drum, N.Y.  November 3, 2007)

Comments

'mene...'

Even further supporting your final point ("If kissing this tarmac...") is the visual analogy between their kissing the ground and the push-up. What better exemplifies the way in which the military subjugates their own--at least in the popular imagination--than the push-up?

My first reaction was that the men were praying to Mecca.

Well, my first reaction to the image was one of empathy: imagine the fierce joy and relief at surviving to finally find yourself back on the ground of your home? I bet they loved those feet of tarmac (in it's symbolic sense) at that moment more than anything else; plus there's just something wonderfully instinctive about honouring the earth of your home. "...this might be the first and last emotionally-uncomplicated act these men will experience in their post-war lives..." yeah, I agree.

Also, isn't it interesting that we've now become so used to seeing anyone stretched along the ground or bowed over, esp. in the presence of uniforms (and note that these men are all dark-haired and desert tanned) -- that we assume that they are Muslim or subjugated?

In light of all this talk of subjugation, there's (currently) a shot on the main page of the NYT web version of Martin Lel, winner of today's 2007 New York Marathon, stretched full length, in push-up posture, kissing the pavement at the finish line.
What should we think, or what emotions should we insert into our version of his thoughts, seeing a black man, , scantily dressed in a uniform of sorts, lowering his body to touch the roadway with his lips?
He's from Kenya, which is mostly Christian (damn those white European colonists, right?), so we don't know if he's Muslim, but hey, if it fits the frame...
Oh my God, he's got a number on his hip, and another on his back, put there by The Man. What to do?

Arriving at night, no welcoming in sight.
I do not think these mercenaries kissed the soil before they left for Iraq... Yet there it is upon their return. What has changed? Their faith in the "slogans for democracy?"
These returnees' demonstration could be a first step to forgetting what they have done for 15 months or so over there. Is it an attempt of cleansing or asking for forgivness, but will that simple action be enough for them to lead normal lives?
They have baggage still on their shoulders. It seems they have made a pact sometime in Iraq, that if they survive, they will do this act. Let they have strengh to say No next time.

Ever wonder why we still insist on calling concrete "tarmac" ?

I guess "taxiway" or "airport pavement" just doesn't bring forth the image of Snoopy and the Red Baron.

Did they tell the guy on the left to 're-orient' so it didn't look like moslems praying?

Depending upon your politics or your religion, a kiss could mean a lot of things — see The Kiss Sacred and Profane: Reflections on a Cross-Cultural Confrontation [PDF].

However, these soldiers are just happy to be home without having to kiss any body parts goodbye. At this moment, for them, presidents and wannabes are the furthest things from their mind.

Like this guy, though, I'd prefer to lay one on a significant other first.

ref : “2007 will be the deadliest year yet for US troops in Iraq.

2007 will also be the costliest year for the U.S. Treasury. iirc, there is an historical anecdote in Albert Speer's Spandau: The Secret Diaries where he meets with the Führer and tells him, “We don't have enough gold to sustain the War on two fronts.”

For the troops, the daily report we hear about you is now only a single metric: the rate of your attrition. From the air, Baghdad looks like a lab rat's maze of blast walls, rubble-lined streets, checkpoints, traffic barriers and trenches. The only report we hear about you, the people who live there, is your rate of survival. We have a vague measure of the millions of you who have fled your homes; apparently, few Sunnis remain in your once-sovereign City.

From the Treasury, the only daily report metric we see is the devaluation of the U.S. dollar. In terms of GOLD/share, or GOLD/SqFoot ~ American equities and real estate asset values look to the rest of the world as if they have fallen off a cliff.

The Occupation of IRAQ is destroying the brand that was THE Military; and the U.S. Treasury is bleeding petro-dollars in a Mission to sustain attrition ~ a process whereby "winning" is resolved to be our now shared sacrifice, the day-to-day / paycheck-to-paycheck Mission of "surviving this".


Someone needs to tell the President : “We don't have enough oil to sustain The Occupation and defend the USD.


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