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331 posts categorized "War On Iraq/Afghanistan"

Apr 15, 2010

The Children's Crusade


by BagNews contributor John Lucaites

I don’t know what the average age of the American soldier is, but the typical photograph we have seen in recent times suggests that “he” is in his mid-twenties or later. And what such photographs show us are young men who have completed their training as fighting machines; indeed, many such images show us soldiers who have already seen battle and so, as young as they might be, they appear as veterans and far older than their years. What such photographs fail to show us—and in the process allow us to forget—is how much going to war robs such men of their youth and innocence … and no doubt much more as well.

When I first came across the photograph above I thought I was looking at a group of adolescents “playing” at being soldiers.

Indeed, the shooter in the middle of the image looks rather like “Ralphie,” the young boy from Jean Shepherd’s classic A Christmas Story who pines for a Red Ryder BB Gun only to have a department store Santa tell him, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!” And those around him don’t seem much older as they all look awkwardly out of place in their clean camouflage uniforms and wielding what at first glance appear to be toy versions of automatic weapons. But of course they aren’t toy weapons, and these apparently prepubescent adolescents are actually recruits in basic training, “prepar[ing] to clear and secure a room.”

Continue reading "The Children's Crusade" »

Apr 12, 2010

Afghanistan: Finished Before We've Re-Started?

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With all our problems with civilian casualties, Karzai, and warding off the Taliban (even in the Helmand town we supposedly secured already), the question is: might today's US attack on a civilian bus in Kandahar, the key prize in McChystal's strategy and the heart of the enemy, represent a tipping point even before the surge is fully in place?

Specifically, in circling the bus are the Afghans circling the wagons against American intervention?

(photos: Allauddin Khan, A.P. April 12, 2010)

Apr 09, 2010

Namir Noor-Eldeen


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This photo accompanies a remembrance by NYT photographer Michael Kamber and a Lens blog slide show of Namir Noor-Eldeen's work. Noor-Eldeen, showcased in the Wikileaks video released this week, was the young Iraqi Reuters photographer misidentified as an insurgent and killed by the US military in Baghdad in '07.

Beyond some parallels between this photo Noor-Eideen took of medics lifting a body after a rocket attack in Baghdad in October '04 and his own demise after assistance arrived to transport him from the scene, it's mostly troubling to consider him meeting his end in a similarly shattered setting he was as familiar with as anyone.

Apr 07, 2010

You're Toast, Sir

A shot of Obama and Karzai ... before the President of Kabul burned down the breakfast club.

What with Karzai burning us in the media all week, I imagine the Administration now regrets posting this on the WH Flickr stream just before he got fired up. Such a shame, too. The bogus symbolism is perfect -- offering two leaders "seeing eye-to-eye" and "breaking bread" together.

With Karzai's rants still ringing, I look at this now and imagine the guy in the white gloves taking him away -- at least, immediately after he takes his basket back.

(photo: Pete Souza/White House. caption: President Barack Obama chats with Afghan President Hamid Karzai during the start of a dinner at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 28, 2010.)

Apr 05, 2010

Wikileak's Video of US Military Attack on Reuters Journalists: "All Right, Ha, Ha, Ha"

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Continue reading "Wikileak's Video of US Military Attack on Reuters Journalists: "All Right, Ha, Ha, Ha"" »

Mar 28, 2010

Showing Afghan Command Team Who's Boss

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Talk about killing four or five birds with one stone.

Obama simultaneously: knocks the Tea Party out of the news cycle with his Afghan drop-in (and, take that, NCAA!); illustrates his stronger grip following the big health care win; lets McChrystal and Eikenberry know who's boss (a lot more convincingly than that last attempt); puts McChystal directly on the spot, given that the surge was really the General's idea; and, with this over-the-top, supreme chairman-like set up, leaves both men almost cowering over all the Afghan civilians we've been bumping off in waging our high profile hearts-and-minds campaign.

(photo: Pete Souza/White House. caption: President Barack Obama meets with U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, left, and Gen. Stanley McChrystal at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, March 28, 2010.)

Mar 24, 2010

Afghan Update: I'm Sure You're Dying to Have Your Picture Taken


Maybe there's a reason -- besides the success of the surge -- that we're seeing fewer photos of U.S. casualties in Afghanistan. New censorship rules require photographers to hassle wounded soldiers to get photos like this. ...But then, if the press is loath to seriously dig into the logic, strategy and day-to-day course of the war in Afghanistan, what's the point of publishing photos of American wounded anyway?

Mar 19, 2010

The Shrine Down the Hall

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I've been studying Ashley Gilbertson's photos of the bedroom "shrines" of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. The NYT is featuring 19 of these images, the deceased soldiers -- two women and seventeen men -- having ranged in age from nineteen to twenty-five.

Continue reading "The Shrine Down the Hall" »

Mar 12, 2010

Construction is Booming! The Recovery has Arrived!

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According to the newswires, construction is finally booming and there are now plenty of new jobs for Americans in the building trades...

if we're talking surge dollars and new bases in Afghanistan.

(photo: John Moore/Getty Images. caption: U.S. Army carpenters from the 60th Engineer Company construct a new command center while expanding an American military base for incoming troops on March 11, 2010 at Forward Operating Base Ramrod in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. Bases across southern Afghanistan are being enlarged to accommodate the surge of fresh troops ordered by President Obama as part of the new war strategy.)

Mar 09, 2010

Surge Update: Major U.S. Victory in ... What Was That City, Again?

Marjah 2a.jpg

If the Dari translation for "Operation Moshtarak" is "together," the new translation this week is: "Where's my Map Quest?"

First described by the Marines as a city of 80,000, news reports eventually ballooned that number to 125,000 during the supposedly milestone battle of Marjah.

Looking at the pictures over the multi-week offensive, it did seem the backgrounds -- characteristic of the shot above, and as we see here and here -- looked a little sparse. What now comes to light by way of independent reporter Gareth Porter, however , is that -- except for some scattered buildings -- Marjah is a mirage.

(posted and linked photo: Brennan Linsley/AP. caption: Green smoke marks the landing zone as seen through the plexiglass window of a quickly-descending U.S. Army Task Force Pegasus helicopter on a mission to evacuate a wounded U.S. Marine, in Marjah, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Tuesday March 2, 2010. The "chase" or security helicopter circles in the background. Pegasus crews provide the fast medical evacuation of seriously wounded combatants and civilians.)

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