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6 posts categorized "Iraq Civil War"

Dec 21, 2009

Best of the Bag Decade: BAG Looks at the Iraq War

(The Best of the Bag Decade is our end of the year, end of the decade look at some of the best BAGnews posts and analysis.)

The Iraq War has been (and still is) a frequent subject on BAGnews and, frankly, such a topic of government and media spin that I find it impossible to highlight the best posts in a single entry.  This is particularly true when I read through the sharp analytic comments posted by our readership over the years.  To encapsulate the coverage, I’ve restricted myself to the year and a half following the 2004 election, a time when the Bag moved to consistent posting of photographs instead of political cartoons.  It was also a time in which the war propaganda machine played at full power to a usually compliant media. 

We begin with the 2005 White House photo release of a 2003 image showing staged strategery of the Bush Administration's “war planning” in Pizza II,

BOB strategery 1.

the pro-war iconography of the Iraq “Marlboro Man”, and propaganda aspects of Michael Yon’s photo of a US soldier and a dying Iraqi child.

BOB War icon 2., 3.

The aftermath of the election saw further examples of the government and media spin on Abu Ghraib, noted in BAG’s The Most Obscene Pictures Taken at Abu Ghraib and the “framing” of low-level soldiers in Lynndie Comes Up Short.  


The post-US election time period also marked the first photograph by Alan Chin posted on the site (which brought about a fascinating discussion of the embed process) and the posting of the equally uncomfortable imagery of War As Child's Play. 

BOB IRAQI1 6., 7.

Continue reading "Best of the Bag Decade: BAG Looks at the Iraq War" »

Apr 27, 2009

Our Friend Maliki

Obama Maliki Shell.jpg

In light of the recent increase in violence in Baghdad, and now some backpedaling by the Administration regarding pullout commitments, this image -- as part of Callie Shell's 77-photo Obama "100 Days" slide show -- offers an interesting window.

In the photo, taken at Camp Victory during Obama's recent trip to Iraq, we see "44" greeting Iraqi diplomatics while Maliki shakes hands with NSC head General Jones. The most telling feature here involves Obama and Maliki with their backs to each other. With Maliki fueling tension with the Sunnis through his rejection of the Baathists, and more significantly, his failure to accommodate the U.S.-designed Awakening movement, Maliki is showing Obama exactly why we need to depart Iraq as soon as possible.

If Obama and Maliki offer the picture of balance, it's not hard to imagine Rahm and U.S. Commander General in Iraq, Ordieno, over there in the corner, representing a more unguarded impression of the Iraqi leadership.

(Note: link fixed)

(image: Callie Shell/Aurora for TIME)

Oct 12, 2008

Update On The (Unnamed) Civil War

Wall Crumbles
Dora Car Bomb

“In fact, there is no trust between us and the National Police,” said Sami Hassan Saleh al-Jubori, a leader of the Awakening Council in Dora and a former general in Saddam Hussein’s military.
He offered his own warning to the government. “If the Awakening is let go, Dora will go back to worse than it was before,” he said. “I hope you don’t consider this a threat.”

from: As Fears Ease, Baghdad Sees Walls Tumble (NYT)

Although U.S. interest in the Iraq War died with the so-called "surge," Sunni - Shiite tension in what remains a low-intensity civil war is making the situation far from stable.  Specifically,  the recent turn-over of the Sunni 'Awakening Councils' to Shi'ite-government control threatens to dramatically escalate hostility in Baghdad and Anbar that was artificially suppressed due to the U.S. creation, cultivation and independent sponsorship of this Sunni paramilitary.    (The tension is evident in this NYT slideshow from three weeks ago, showing Awakening member in the Adhamiya neighborhood one week before their payroll was transferred to the Shiite government.)

Because of the lack of interest in (and corresponding dearth of coverage of) the war, images seem the most effective vehicle for getting basic points across. The top shot above, for example, appeared on Thursday's NYT front page, leading a story based on the Dora neighborhood about how blast walls are being removed in certain parts of Baghdad.  According to the write-up, Sunni shopkeepers there have been anxious to make the neighborhood more accessible.

The image just below it comes from Friday's NYT "Pictures of the Day" slide show, a day later.  It shows the aftermath of a powerful car bomb that targeted shops in Dora that morning.

(image 1: Max Becherer/Polaris, for The New York Times. Dora. October 9, 2008.  image 2: Loay Hameed/Associated Press. Dora. October 10, 2008)

May 09, 2008

Iraq Civil War #10 - Day 44

Iraqi Woman

Like this image posted back on March 27th (two days after Maliki declared war on the al-Sadr and the Mahdi), what lends poignancy to a situation we have otherwise grown numb to are pictures that are this elemental.

In the latest evolution of the Shiite civil war, American forces -- with the support of troops from the U.S.-installed, pro-Iranian government  -- have so traumatized Sadr City that a mass exodus would surely take place (similar to the previous migration out of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities) if only the people, now trapped and starving, could get out.

This woman's hands gripping onto a truck while waiting for food supplies to be distributed not only powerfully reflect the circumstance in Sadr City, their expression and adornment offer an anguished and detailed personal portrait as well.

accompanying article: Aid Officials Urge Relief For Baghdad Slum (Reuters via NYT)
BNN Iraq Civil War thread
NYT Pictures of the Day, May 8 (

(Photo: Petr David Josek/AP. May 2008. Sadr City. via

May 04, 2008

Blowing Up The Surge

Sadr City Missile Strke-1

Talabani Wife Roadside Bomb-1

When it's all said and done (sometime within the next hundred years), the most redundant image of the Iraq occupation could well turn out to be the razed car carcass.  At this point, however, what could possibly distinguish one more crippled hulk from another?

In the former case (besides the fact it's an ambulance that took the hit), the method of infliction is worth noting.  The roof of the car is caved in because it was damaged from the air by one of three U.S. Hellfire missiles.  The specific view, however, is actually peripheral to the main target which Iraqis identify as a mosque and the American military described as a “criminal element command and control center.”

What everybody does agree on, however, is that the building next-door was a hospital, which made it that much more convenient to treat the twenty-eight people injured, including a group of kids who were collecting cans to salvage.

Continue reading "Blowing Up The Surge" »

Apr 30, 2008

American Bombing Of Sadr City: Like Qana, But Without The Attention?

Sadr City Carnage

Now that the U.S. -- desperate to protect the Green Zone, and avoid a Saigon-style evacuation -- is actively bombing Sadr City, what is the difference between what the Americans are doing, and what the Israeli's did in Qana during the '06 Lebanon war?

Above is yesterday's photo of two-year-old Ali Hussein, pulled from the bombed rubble of his home, who died shortly after in the hospital.  It's the shot which could have, would have and otherwise should have woken up all the sheep and cast a fiery and pin-pointed attention on the urban carnage inflicted on an overcrowded, poverty-stricken, urban Baghdad slum by U.S. fighter bombers.

So I ask, what is the difference -- in morality, shock effect and potential political fallout -- between the shot from Sadr City above, and the near-identical scene below that rocked the world, shamed the Israelis, and burned Qana into the world's consciousness ... besides the lack of media access and attention?


About a photo, about Iraq (Kansas City Star)
Several believed dead in US air raids in Baghdad (AFP)

(image 1: Karim Kadim/AP.  April 29, 2008. Sadr City, Baghdad.  via Kansas City Star.  image 2: ©Tim Fadek.  July 30, 2006.  Qana, Lebanon.  Used by permission.  Please seek permission before republication.)

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