Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
May 12, 2005

Palms Away!

Economistiraqnukes

Of course, the latest Economist cover couldn’t be more loaded — starting with the incendiary headline.  (As usual, I invite you to help diffuse it.) 

If you scan the editorial, it sounds like what really might be returning is the post 9/11 U.S. – European split.  Wasn’t it just a week ago that this magazine was head over heels in love?  Seven days later, it seems passions have taken a decided turn.  Putting on my shrink hat for a moment (a headdress that couldn’t be more fitting for such a display), I read the blast as a metaphor for hostility.  Apparently, what has TE stoked up is the impression that Bush and the U.S. have single handedly screwed up the global terrorism campaign.  (Reinforcing the ill will, that smug smile lends just the perfect touch of editorial sadism.)

Loose cannon that I am, I also looked at this cover from a more oblique angle.  Here’s what came up:

This must be the biggest guy who ever lived.



These people can handle an awful lot of heat and still not get burned.

Apparently, you can blow up one of these things without it getting out of hand.

 

(image: The Economist cover.  May 12, 2005)

  • mugatea

    Conservatives lead with fear. This photo/illustration plays into the whole “He’s a madman, we must attack!”
    I’m concerned that TE would go this far in a photo/illustration. If it was just an illustration it would be more acceptable, but the use of photos in this matter makes me uncomfortable with the journalistic goals of this publication. Do they Photoshop the interior photos as well?
    The blue, blue sky is in such contrast with the subject Hmmm, makes it almost seem dream-like, based on fears, not reality. To war, then.

  • jon st

    Among other things, what I’m baffled by is the absence of any reference to N. Korea. Maybe that’s next week’s cover?

  • http://www.americafree.tv Marshall

    Here is more than you may want to know about the atomic part of this picture.
    The picture used is of the “Gable” shot of the Upshot-Knothole test series at the Nevada Proving Ground, 25th May, 1953. The yield was 15 kilotons, and this has the distinction of being the first test of an atomic artillery piece. Description of the shot is at
    http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Usa/Tests/Upshotk.html
    Picture of the burst with the gun :
    http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Usa/Tests/Ukgrabgun.jpg
    Apparently, the Grable shot photographs were later confused with the Priscilla shot of 1957
    http://www.radiochemistry.org/history/nuke_tests/plumbbob/
    I think that this is the picture they used
    http://www.radiochemistry.org/history/nuke_tests/plumbbob/PbPrisc3.jpg
    which is clearly a reprinting in reverse of
    http://www.radiochemistry.org/history/nuke_tests/upshot_knothole/Ukgrable1.jpg
    Movies of the shot are available from here
    http://www.vce.com/grable.html
    The Upshot-Knothole series of tests had uniformed personnel doing maneuvers before and after the shots, to see how troops could perform during nuclear war. (The Gable shot was fired from the cannon by Army personnel, for example.) It also lead to a fair amount of fallout, although the Gable shot was not the worst offender. Here is an estimate of the result :
    “The effect on the downwind civilian population, taken together, was much worse. Uphot-Knothole released some 35,000 kilocuries of radioiodine (I-131) into the atmosphere (for comparison, Trinity released about 3200 kilocuries of radioiodine). This produced total civilian radiation exposures amounting to 89 million person-rads of thyroid tissue exposure (about 24% of all exposure due to continental nuclear tests). This can be expected to eventually cause about 28,000 cases of thyroid cancer, leading to some 1400 deaths.”
    BTW, a picture of the same shot was used for the cover of the Crown of Creation album by the Jefferson Airplane.
    Regards

  • Martin

    Mugatea makes a good point. Is TE willing to come forward with their evidence that this man once detonated a nuclear warhead in his hand? If not, then they should let their very talented political cartoonist KAL take over.

  • black dog barking

    Ali Baba is close by. His evil genie kills time awaiting further instruction. The infidel will pay dearly.
    ( Attention to detail: the reflection in the glasses. )

  • Igor

    The positions of the hands made me think of a magician or somebody doing a parlor trick.

  • http://molly.douthett.net Molly

    I thought of the parlor trick, too, Igor.
    I also think the mushroom cloud looks almost organic; it looks like an evil fungi that he picked up and is scaring the neices and nephews with.
    Which sorta fits the zeitgeist, doesn’t it? Here’s this crazy old uncle pulling out his pet in order to scare somebody. Is this what the Economist is trying to say? That we need to put the old guy away where he won’t hurt anyone?

  • The BAG

    On the fungus theme…
    I also was wondering about those little white wisps of spillage coming off the hand in those two places. Perhaps the intention was to add realism (giving the hand more visual connection with the blast), but I think they could have done without it. To my eye, in fact, the wisps seem to visually detract.
    This might be a stretch, but it seems to almost give the image a “confectionary” dimension. Doesn’t it look a little like goo that the Imam is having to catch/contain with his right hand? (Catch it before it drips down your sleeve!)
    Perhaps TE wants us to believe ‘these guys think about the bomb like they’re in Candyland.’

  • JoeQ

    The angle of his turban looks like somebody took a bite out of it – any thoughts? Is that always the case, and I’ve never noticed, or what?

  • Diane

    I was struck by the graceful beauty of the hands, but first thought on my mind was that this was a photo of a nuclear detonation by US, not them.

  • The BAG

    Now that you mention it, I wonder if the hands and the head (and the body) even go together. Does it seem like the grey vest has been “spliced” on? Do the hands look like the Imam’s hands? Or even male hands? Don’t they seem a little short?

  • Johanna

    This is what I perceived as the troubling visual message:
    Evil = Iran
    Evil = Men in Turbins
    Evil = Muslims/Arabs
    Evil = Muslim clerics
    Evil = a joyful/happy Muslim cleric as the creator of heinous death and destruction
    Evil = Muslim men, who are really (wink, wink – nudge, nudge) effeminate. This is done through the hands. I feel this to be an insult to Muslim/Arab men – and also to their holy men, the clerics. Again, whether conscious or not, at some level I feel the insult is deliberate. With all the other detail they attended to – they could have easily found “male” hands.
    I feel the energies of facism in this visual message. I feel whether they are a “conscious” participant as a magazine or not, that TE is is promoting a very, very dangerous form of propaganda. Like the Nazi’s before them, with the portrayal of the Jews as the people to fear and hate, Americans are being visually taught how to hold in their conscious or unconcious minds – how to “hate” our “enemy” and what the enemy looks like.
    Peace in a sorrowful time. Johanna

  • Johanna

    A p.s. – Evil is interchangable in this message:
    Evil = Iranian or Iraqi cleric.
    For along with the contempt and hubris, is the belief of those who teach hate – that those we hate, who look different from us, are interchangable.
    How painful it is for my heart to write of these things that I see…
    Peace. Johanna

  • hello

    what attracted me were the hands.
    blogads cropped it down to size to emphasize them.
    reminded me of a renaissance painting
    with the hands held in benediction.

  • George Myers

    The Grable shot? My high school history teacher (in Greek his family were “assassins” he once said) was an atomic cannon-man, which he said was a deadly position, as when fired at the Eastern front would be over-run by their tanks coming across the borders. I have a picture online of one of the behemoth white cannons which were towed at either end by huge truck cabs. One is pointed at the Eisenhower homestead from a park in Texas, a “roadside America” online posting.
    Well, we did sell 100 Grumman F-14 “Tomcats” to the Shah of Iran (I once celebrated the birthday of its test pilot, where TV told us the US would blow-up them all if the USSR went for the border during the hostage crisis as the air-to-air missiles are very important technology. Over 4000 Grumman employees had been in a compound in Iran training their pilots and support crew. It’s said that the F-14 can track up to six targets and may have had electronic counter-measures, I didn’t ask him however. Makes for interesting geo-politics.) The F-14 also had problems later worked out at Langley is it, similar to the film “Top Gun” and can flat spin out of the air which has been fixed. Maybe we could do a deal with them and get their investment in our air power back on the right track?

  • cj

    After looking at this photo a few dozen times, I begin to wonder: is the axis of evil, Islam or ‘nucular’ technology…? The man seems to have a gee whizz look on his face–”so THIS is what everybody is so excited about….!” Also, I see that the mushroom cloud sorta morphs into a genie-esque form (or is that just a chimp with one hand covering its eyes…..) Something about the caption gets me, too–especially the “Return” part–as if the “Axis”, the concept, is part of a “blockbuster” movie sequel. Unfortunately, as the type-face demonstrates, audiences aren’t really that enthused about the sequel….. I guess we should all get ready to sit back and get bombarded by another round of “Blockbuster” sequel selling by that great advertising team: Bush, Blair, and Ltd.

  • Diane

    I’m sure the image of the imam is all one, not altered in any way. I don’t see why his hands (“beautiful” or not “male” enough for us) should be changed to suit…we need to look at the realities clearly and examine our reactions to them before we are to understand the rather distorted embracement of east and west now taking place.

  • aethorian

    The answer may seem strange, love, but we simply must learn to stop worrying and love the bomb:

    Today, we’ve entered the era of the friendly, functional cinematic nukes. These nuclear weapons aren’t the proverbial “destroyer of worlds,” but saviors of humanity. They possess utility and a higher purpose. Twice they’ve thwarted a giant asteroid from slamming into the Earth (Deep Impact and Armageddon); and once they helped reset the rotation of its core (The Core).
    Amazingly, these films reflect the zeitgeist. Polls indicate that nuclear weapons are no longer the number one public fear. (U.S. mayors listed traditional crime and fires as a greater concern to their cities and constituents than a nuclear threat in a survey eight months after 9/11.) “Nuclear weapons have been recuperated during the 1990s,” Broderick says. “These weapons were redundant in the post-Cold War period, but now they have capital because they help us liberate society from asteroids, comets, alien invasion, what have you. Previously, they were only there to destroy society.”

    So, no matter what happens, we’ll meet again. I don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.

  • Gaianne

    The Economist is fascist propaganda in its purist form. They hardly bother to be subliminal.

  • Johanna

    To further support my 2 previous commentaries I have sited a few articles below. I feel there is a deliberate pattern occurring politically and militarily to isolate, demonize, and terrorize the Muslim/Arab populations; in the US, Guantanamo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and soon, Iran. These patterns – actions, are very reminiscent to me of what occured in early Nazi Germany. I use the word reminiscent because things will not be exactly the same as it was then – but many of the same energies, actions, unconscious motivations and behaviors are at work. Energy-consciousness that is not transformed does not disappear. As we have learned (or not!) throughout history, if you do not learn from history you are often doomed to repeat it.
    Peace. Johanna
    Muslims are Targets of Paranoid US
    “Muslims are increasingly the target of a “shoot first and ask questions later” policy by our government. Americans vary in their responses, from saying nothing to murmuring words of disapproval to condoning such repressive policies. The hard work of our Founding Fathers and the work of our great leaders of freedom seem to be going down the drain after a challenge to our nation by a handful of terrorists.”
    http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0505-27.htm
    Trigger-happy US troops will keep us in Iraq for years
    The officer said: “US troops have the attitude of shoot first and ask questions later. They simply won’t take any risk.
    “It has been explained to US commanders that we made mistakes in Northern Ireland, namely Bloody Sunday, and paid the price.
    “I explained that their tactics were alienating the civil population and could lengthen the insurgency by a decade. Unfortunately, when we explained our rules of engagement which are based around the principle of minimum force, the US troops just laughed.”
    telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/05/15/wirq15.xml&sSheet=/news/2005/05/15/ixworld.html
    Losing Hearts and Minds
    On Wednesday, National Public Radio broadcast a piece that made it appallingly clear that we have not cleaned up our character in Iraq. Humiliation remains a primary weapon.
    http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0513-25.htm
    Torture’s Dirty Secret: It Works
    The fear is even thicker among Muslims in the United States, where the Patriot Act gives police the power to seize the records of any mosque, school, library or community group on mere suspicion of terrorist links. When this intense surveillance is paired with the ever-present threat of torture, the message is clear: You are being watched, your neighbor may be a spy, the government can find out anything about you. If you misstep, you could disappear onto a plane bound for Syria, or into “the deep dark hole that is Guantánamo Bay,” to borrow a phrase from Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
    But this fear has to be finely calibrated. The people being intimidated need to know enough to be afraid but not so much that they demand justice.
    http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0512-23.htm
    The Bush-Bolton Plan to Bomb Bushehr
    “…Buried down in Saturday’s New York Times report on President Bush reaffirming his unqualified support for John Bolton as UN ambassador is the reason why almost all of you are ready to vote for his confirmation.
    “Republicans are hoping to shame Democrats into a quick vote on Mr. Bolton. They argue that he needs to be in place by June so that the United States will have the latitude it needs to press its concerns about Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program before the Security Council.”
    Why the big rush? My reliable sources tell me it is because there is a timetable that makes it urgent for Bolton to be ready for action in June in order to cripple the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) as part of the plan to bomb the Iranian nuclear power plant at Bushehr.
    http://www.antiwar.com/wanniski/?articleid=5956
    From Seymour M. Hersh of The New Yorker
    “This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone,” the former high-level intelligence official told me. “Next, we’re going to have the Iranian campaign. We’ve declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah-we’ve got four years, and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism.”
    http://www.aawfrance.net/Jan-Feb%202005/The%20Coming%20Wars.htm
    From Scott Ritter
    “…the former UNSCOM weapons inspector stunned his listeners with two pronouncements. Ritter said plans for a June attack on Iran have been submitted to President George W. Bush, and that the president has approved them. He also asserted that knowledgeable sources say U.S. officials “cooked” the results of the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq.
    On Iran, Ritter said that President George W. Bush has received and signed off on orders for an aerial attack on Iran planned for June 2005. Its purported goal is the destruction of Iran’s alleged program to develop nuclear weapons, but Ritter said neoconservatives in the administration also expected that the attack would set in motion a chain of events leading to regime change in the oil-rich nation of 70 million — a possibility Ritter regards with the greatest skepticism.”
    http://www.libertyforum.org/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=iraq_war&Number=293393206
    Pushing war with Iran
    ….. A major goal of the Israeli government is military action against Iran. AIPAC, an American proxy of the Israeli government, with Franklin’s help, has been pressuring members of Congress to support military strikes against Iran.
    nuclearfree.lynx.co.nz/pushingiran.htm
    Pre-emptive Nuclear Strikes May Be Initiated by Local Commanders
    Here is a Pentagon paper on implementing Bush’s new pre-emptive nuclear war doctrines.
    nuclearfree.lynx.co.nz/localcommanders.htm

Refresh Archives

Random Notes