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August 1, 2005

Your Turn: Gotta Hand It To ‘Em?



In the middle of last week, Rummy makes a surprise visit to Baghdad.  Is he there to hasten the completion of the Iraqi constitution?  (Apparently, the talk out of Washington is that nobody reads these silly documents anyway.)  Or, is here there to warn al-Jaafari to keep his distance from Iran?

The top image, circulated about five days ago, shows Rummy saying goodbye to Prime Minister al-Jaafari.  The second shot — depicting a meeting recently between Iran’s Mohammad Khatami and al-Jaafari — ran this past Sunday in the NYT Week in Review (Iraq Dances With Iran, While America Seethes – link).

Here’s where I need some help:  What’s the deal with all the hand language?  (And, could Rummy possibly be trying to draw al-Jaafari into a game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors?”) 

(image 1: Joe Raedle/Pool/Reuters. Baghdad July 27, 2005 in YahooNews. image 2: Vahid Salemi/Associated Press.  July 31, 2005 in the New York Times Week in Review, p. 3.)

  • MonsieurGonzo

    EtheReality TeeVee
    it’s not the hands, it’s the feet: Iran’s Mohammad Khatami and Iraq’s al-Jaafari float on an astral plane, unhindered by gravity; they exist without vanishing point = depth perspective; they gaze outward, addressing everything in general but acknowledging no one in particular ~ especially us = the photographer = their voyeur.
    they are as one self above all that (other) And their ability to levitate such is derived by their hand bond bridging the gap between Secular & Sacred power, thus.
    this is, imho ~ the conceit implicit of this image. it requires no text / context. it is iconic, ancient, surely an instantly / as instictively understood universal symbol of Body Politic and Eternal Soul junta.
    this image = their message probably dates back to the time of Chief+Shaman, Pharaoh+Priest; ie., have faith : IRAQ will be a Theocracy.
    There will be Law in this Land and Holy Order. the (circle around the hands) graphic overlay really needs no “text”, but i find (the editor’s compulsion to draw) the circle fascinating. to me, it creates a third self; another head, so -to- speak, entirely proportional to the two other heads. yes, it is a talking head ~ the text is telling us something ~ but it is more than this. it is a halo, too: “this bonding creates a blessed self entity”. i’m tempted to say here something about “the trinity” and/or Holy Spirit mythology ~ but it’s all too obvious ~ there is nothing trivial here…
    …without gravity, they exhibit gravitas.
    And that is the essential element, what is entirely absent from the image of Iraq’s al-Jaafari and America’s Rumsfeld; ie., they do not levitate, rather ~ theirs is is an image full of levity.
    theirs is an image of WarLord and Puppet President. “you gotta rock ‘em, sock ‘em, Jaafo!” i imagine the vulgar M.O.D. madman saying. OTOH, i find this image meaningless as news ~ and if this is not news, really ~ then WTH is it?
    i mean, WTH is the story ?
    BAGman: Is he there to hasten the completion of the Iraqi constitution?
    who knows? there is no “constitution” in the image. of course, the image has many interesting things, in and of itself, going on…
    their message, if we are, ourselves conceited enough to believe that there really is some there there ~ is what, delivered in body language? ambiguous, ambivalent, what are you/we to make of it, really, some kind of truth? in truth, does it tell you/us something ~ something that you/we did not already believe we knew before we laid our eyes on this image?
    perhaps the surprising thing, at least, to me {grin} is the medium(s) of these two images. Rummy, well ~ that image looks like the kind of vapid / void, Western MSM one-act-play as “Reality empTeeVee” (look! there’s some action actually happening here!! He’s so animated! that means it must be important!! wannabee news nada.
    whereas that other image… yeah, the etheReal one… i’m surprised to read that it comes from the NYTimes. that image seems (to me) more likely floating on a poster, or an Arabic newspaper ~ full of beautiful script, all flowing gracefully from right to left.

  • mugatea

    Looks like al-Jaafari had the paper ready for Rummy’s rock, so Rummy pulled out a second rock ’cause he makes the rules.
    Handshakes for photo sessions aren’t what handshakes were intended for. Video from these sessions are so strange. The leaders, already together, walk out before the photographers and shake hands with little eye contact or verbal exchange. They just look around at the cameras and hold each others hand. It’s symbolic, sure, but less as the traditional greeting and more as a kowtow to the press.

  • cj

    In the first photo, it looks like Rummy is trying to do a guy bonding fake boxing match thing, while al-Jaafari is saying down boy not now–definitely an official snub. Rummy’s “come on and play with me” and al-Jaafari’s cool hand response does not bode well for US-Iraqi relations…. I smell chief justice of the US Supreme Court in Rummy’s future………………….

  • PJ

    DeafSec Donny is saying, “Goddammit, J, you’ve got to whip these guys into shape.” Think I’m kidding? These were his exact words to reporters at the time.

    “We don’t want any delays,” Mr. Rumsfeld said. “They’re simply going to have to make the compromises necessary and get on with it.” He added, “That’s what politics is about.”

    Any delay in the process would be “very harmful to the momentum that’s necessary,” he said. “We have troops on the ground. People get killed.”

    And what is Big J saying? Out loud, he’s saying, “I understand, sir.” To himself he’s saying, “I hope this turkey doesn’t spit on my new suit.” Deep down, he and his people are saying, “If it took you guys eleven years to whip up a constitution, how come you think we can do it in a matter of weeks?”
    In the bottom pic, a couple of Middle Eastern leaders who don’t yet trust each other have learned the value of a Western-style photo op.

  • dancinfool

    Rummy’s just having another tantrum. His face was probably retouched to hide the blue.

  • derekcito

    Oh my word, follow the link in pj’s comment to the NYT, then definitely open the “enlarge image” window to see a truly strange picture of Rummy with Gen. George Casey in what I take to be the royal palace that now serves as the U.S. embassy in Bagdad. Shot from groin level, it shows Rummy apparently impersonating Popeye, as Casey, in his general’s cammo, uses body language to shout “I don’t want to be here!” A nervous-looking soldier in the background is holding a briefing book or something, but his hands (the hands again) are making what in some countries is taken as an obscene gesture. Remarkable.

  • PTate in MN

    Check out the photo of the handshake between Rummy and Saddam Hussein on Juan Cole’s site. (You’ll have to scroll down a bit.)
    Maybe Rummy was saying…”NO WAY I’m going to shake hands with any Iraqi leader ever again!! You can’t make me! NO WAY!!”

  • Asta

    Rummy is showing the Prime Minister how he will bend the jail cell bars apart and escape, should he ever be arrested and indicted for treason/obstruction of justice/abuse of power.

  • Matt Sandwich

    I think Rumsfeld is projecting an aura of “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots.” Very macho.

  • lytom

    So Rummy radiates that disgusting empire power and the two puppets seem to like it…
    What else can one comment on?

  • FLJerseyBoy

    I believe The Other Donald is demonstrating his ski-pole grip.

  • Rudolovsky

    In the top image, Rummy is indicating the size of his penis, while Jaafari is gesturing, “OK, Rummy, that’s enough!”

  • Collette McNeill

    I’ve seen fists and knuckles like Rumsfeld’s on people with severe arthritis in their hands. He doesn’t open his hands completely:
    (found thru google image search)
    Your photo seems to depict a moment of hesitation as Rumsfeld stares at Minister al-Jaafari’s open hand, while he can’t really open his own. To me, he looks like he’s fragile, in pain and desperate to maintain his social stature.

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