Sunday, December 05, 2004

Postcards from the War

You may remember, from last April the flap over pictures of flag draped coffins of American casualties in Iraq in a cargo plane about to depart from Kuwait.

The photographer lost her job over these, even though she did not work directly for the government or the military. Apparently this was so we could be freed from having to look at the consequences of our invasion of Iraq. The case the White House made wasn't that exactly. But it wasn't much different.

This administration has been fanatically concerned with controlling the flow of information, but especially images, regarding the war in Iraq. The White House web site house photo galleries of Iraq. They mostly of Americans helping smiling Iraqis, smiling Iraqis cheerfully rebuilding their country, and of course, lots of smiling Iraqi children. Here's a smattering:

There is a very interesting blog called Fallujah in Pictures that host pictures of the invasion of Fallujah and its aftermath that you won't see on CNN. Here is one of the tamer ones: (Actually hosted on the Randi Rhodes web site.)

And now there are more photos that have turned up of abuse of Iraqis by Americans, this time it looks like by Navy Seals.

Bush and C. haven't had time yet to craft their spin. But early indications are that it will be something like a statement released by Gen. Mark Kimmitt, a former military spokesman in Iraq that the new pictures showing apparent abuse of Iraqi prisoners were the acts of an isolated few but will be used by some to try to tarnish the entire U.S. military.

The abuse in Abu Ghraib was dismissed as an isolated incident. (Click the link for additional photos not generally distributed.) How many more "isolated" incidents need to turn up before Bush and Co. are forced to admit that this is systemic abuse, part of the program?

That will probably never happen. But what is clear is that, once again, the first and primary concern on behalf of the military is the public relations impact.

Gen. Kimmet, if the military does not adopt a policy of greater transparency regarding this abuse, if they don't step up and take responsibility, if the fail to understand the seriousness of this issue, then, yes, it will tarnish the image of the entire U.S. military. But not unjustly. And you and your fellow generals will only have yourself to blame.

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At 6:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're a douchebag, but I think you already know that.

At 7:50 PM, Blogger John said...

Through your photos, you apparently are trying to say "look at how terrible this war is," and you are seeking to imply that it was never worth fighting - that a man who was killing 5000 children a month and blaming us, massacring his people with chemical weapons, dabbling in biological and nuclear weaponry, and attacking his neighbors was best left alone.

Uh huh.

The same horrible pictures can be found from World War II.

Does your logic apply there? In light of the horrific consequences of that war, how can anyone say that war was worth it?

At 10:31 AM, Blogger JimG said...

All one really needs to say about Anonymous is just that, he/she/it is anonymous.

My point was not that wars can never be justified because they are always brutal. My point is that any justification for war must be made in full knowledge of that brutality. The case needs to be made that, yes, war is awful, but this war and all of its death, carnage and destruction is still preferable to what the world would be like without the war.
I understand that this is the position taken by many a supporter of the current war in Iraq. Yet please note that my post took no position on the war itself. It is instructive that merely posting one photo of the ugly side of the war has been interpreted as a criticism of the war itself. This is even though I also posted three photos of happy smiling children.
This goes directly to my point, which is simply that the government has gone out of its way to shield the American public from the face of war. And the American people are more than happy, by and large, to let them.
I will leave it to another day, another post, to ponder whether or not it would be the case that if most Americans were to look at the full impact of the war, the good, the bad and the ugly, if they would still judge it to have been justified.


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