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June 13, 2006

Reclaiming Iraq – Part 1: Media Shock And Awe

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Bushmaliki

It’s not the custom of The BAG to blog events in real time.  There is just something about images that need to settle a bit.  Still, I couldn’t help getting a jump on the major PR assault the White House unleashed on Baghdad this morning.

By now, you probably know that Bush stealthily dropped in on Prime Minister Maliki as part of the Administration’s much ballyhooed re-re-re-re-re-re-launch of its Iraqi campaign.  I thought I would offer these two images to set the stage of the extravaganza.

First shot: Although only six people in the White House supposedly knew Bush would be “doing the Green Zone,” the Bolton/Rove show still managed to round up, transport, suit up (note bullet proof vests), and deliver a group of MSM’s finest to the scene.

Second shot: As reported, Maliki had no idea Bush was coming.  Maybe he’s thrilled about it, who knows?  Still, what does it say that — years into the campaign — the elected Prime Minister of democratic Iraq need be commandeered, then taken to our house to meet with El Jefe in Paul Bremer’s old office?

The BAG finds this image most telling.  We see Maliki in a relatively prone position with the marble table top making it look like he’s locked in (as if in an airline seat with the tray down, or even a high chair!).  If you look at his expression, it’s decidedly non-plussed.  Bush, on the other hand, aggressively launches himself at Maliki with a shit-eating grin and a “quick, take my picture” derring-do reflective of a conquest.

The most interesting signifier, and crowning touch, however?  It’s the two American flags (with Bush in the middle — like the all-American sandwich) in comparison to Iraq’s lonely one.

(image 1: Larry Downing/Reuters. Baghdad.  June 13, 2006.  Via YahooNews.  image 2:  Paul Richards/AFP.  Baghdad.  June 13, 2006.  Via YahooNews)

  • lemondloulou54

    Brilliant. What’s the black thing behind Bush’s head? A color guard with a weapon?

  • Marysz

    Great analysis as usual, BAG. What is the White House trying to distract us from with this trip? We know Bush hates to travel anyplace except Texas. The top picture shows men from the presidential party wielding either camera equipment or machine guns. It isn’t even safe to take pictures in Iraq. Maliki has the uncomfortable look most people get on their faces when they have “guests” drop in without warning. He’s trying to be polite, but he’s cringing.
    Like lemonlulu, I wonder what that black form is behind Bush’s head. The fabric does look like it’s the same as the pants of the man holding the gun in the top photo. If Bush needs an armed bodyguard standing over him while he’s in the Green Zone, it doesn’t say much for the job his Administration is doing. It’s pretty pathetic.

  • croatoan

    Are we supposed to be impressed by these surprise visits to Iraq? They fly in in the middle of the night, hop over to the heavily fortified Green Zone, and skip town after a couple of hours. If things were actually going well in Iraq, why don’t they announce the trip in advance and tour around the country? In March, President Bush cited Tal Afar as a success story; why doesn’t he drop by there to show off how well things are going?

  • ummabdulla

    In this region, when a guest comes to visit, you have them sit down and you offer them a cold drink (water and/or juice), and you set it on a little table in front of the guest. So anyone looking at this picture would say that Prime Minister Maliki is the guest here – which seems strange if it’s supposed to be his country with him in charge.

  • ummabdulla

    Also, Maliki’s right hand is reaching to shake hands with Bush, but what’s his left hand doing?

  • chad

    it looks like bush is either pulling his hand away or just letting it hover there, like an awkward pause so the cameras can go. Maliki’s like, “huh?”

  • http://www.wreckingboy.com/madworld Nezahualimón Johnsettia, Jr.

    As a Cinema Studies disciple might, I now address these pics as a world unto themselves, and not necessarily related to the shooter’s intent, so-
    1. Many diagonals imply tension and motion. Look at all of them. This picture—from the shadows slanting long; to the stairs; to the bent legs in motion; to the plane’s body, itself; to the gun slashing blackly across the frame—is rife with motion and energy. It says “We’re getting things done, STAT!”
    2. Bush looks like a goblin popping out of his chair, and into Maliki’s space. Not having moved an inch, Maliki is but a babe throwing out his hand in an infant’s Startle reflex. Fugya took this greenie totally by surprise, he did.

  • Ksue

    I see Maliki’s left hand position as him saying, “Wait, wait — I’m not at all sure I want to even touch your overbearing obnoxious unclean Western self!”

  • jt from BC

    ummabdulla,
    With no suggestion that Maliki suffers from a mental illness, his *left hand* like his right and stiff looking body reminds me of a mental patient in a catatonic state.
    I suggest any normal person would appear in a frozen posture, particularly Maliki as GWB arrives unannounced like a ghost. In GWB’s glad handing, ghoulish is an accurate description of his posture.

  • ummabdulla

    That black behind Bush’s head might be the Iraqi flag. See http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/060613/ids_photos_wl/r2028917844.jpg .
    I was just thinking about how Bush and company had plenty of time to prepare for this, but the Iraqis got five minutes notice. So any meeting between the two sides would have to just be Bush and his people with their own agenda, telling the Iraqis what they wanted done. Maliki had no time to prepare or to even collect his thoughts.

  • lemondloulou54

    Thanks, ummabdulla. I think you’re right about the black part of the Iraqi flag.

  • Mary Carol Farber

    Perfect, Thanks! The real “shock and awe” the people who fall for this crap. What else can it be, well, the election is on!!!
    There are so many dead thanks to George W. Bush which makes this joy ride even more pathetic.
    ps..this “let’s save my butt tour” –cost to the tax payers–estimated one hr.of air force one-$60,250, does that include drinks for the commander in chief????

  • crankylucy

    …………
    “First shot: Although only six people in the White House supposedly knew Bush would be “doing the Green Zone,” the Bolton/Rove show still managed to round up, transport, suit up (note bullet proof vests), and deliver a group of MSM’s finest to the scene.”
    ………..
    Well, so much for an independent press. And I’m sure those few reporters so honored are going to be completely free in their critical evaluation of this latest duck-n-jive. Let’s see, 33% yesterday. What will tomorrow bring?
    Yes, it may be Maliki’s country, but he knows who he works for, just like everybody else in these pictures. And wouldn’t they have shaken hands BEFORE sitting down? Seems rather awkward to be reaching over table and dishes.
    And there IS a sense of urgency in the top photo. Get in, get out. As ummabdulla pointed out, Maliki must have been taken by surprise, which indicates that Flub didn’t even trust his selected ‘rulers’ with advance info. The military must have known……..perhaps on Rummy’s recent tour he just happened to make a stopover in Baghdad to alert the brass.

  • http://www.woodka.com donna

    Nothing says “puppet” like a visit from Bush… I’m sure the Iraqis are so thrilled…

  • gasho

    Not sure this is about Maliki being a puppet, really. He’s been elected and he’s doing some hard work. His country is in a civil war. He’s trying to stem the violence in the capital and down south in Basra, with an army that isn’t functional under an occupational force that’s stirring up more violence. It can’t be fun.
    Then bring in Bozo-the-clown. He broke the country and he’s the commander of the occupational army.
    Maliki deserves some level of respect, serious negotiations, brainstorming, strategy, apology, and/or thoughtfulness from Bush. Bush should be seriously working with this man to fix the tragedy he’s caused — but look at it. Bush is leaping out of his seat to press some flesh during an unannounced quickie photo-op, after which he’ll hop back on the shiny jet and he – is – outta there!!!!
    Maliki’s expression seems to say – “holy shit, you drop in like this without any intention of actually helping? Are you F’ing serious? Do you know what’s going on here?”
    Bush’s smile couldn’t really be more inappropriate. A campaign smile in a war zone he’s personally created, in front of the man now in charge of managing it.
    Bush might just as well be wearing a clown suit in this picture.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/error27/ error27

    You shake hands when you meet. When someone comes in the room you get up to shake their hand. Or you shake hands when you leave. You don’t shake hands while sitting.
    Bush uses this pose a lot. He posed like this with the President of Japan, the President of Uzbekestan, Mayor Nagin, Victor Ushenko, the president of South Korea, the Australian PM, King Abdullah II, John McCain, and Hu Jintao.
    Normally when you take this kind of picture there is a table in the way so you have to stretch to reach across. And then the photographer has to mess with his gear so you have to stay still for a while.
    Do an image search if you want to see a photos of awkward looking men holding hands with George Bush.

  • Kitt

    Here ya go! I saw this last night ….forgive me, I forget where.
    “White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, left, and White House Counselor Dan Barlett, ride in a military helicopter wearing helmets and flak jackets for a trip from Baghdad International Airport to U.S. Embassy in the Greenzone Tuesday, June 13, 2006 in Baghdad, Iraq.”
    ….traveling along that infamous road from the airport where most of the world’s IEDs can be found.

  • Kitt

    …..or in the air above or around that infamous road…..Oops….Snow & Bartlett were in a helicopter – still dangerous stuff.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/richsodergren/ rchsod

    the guys knows he`s a dead man walking. he`ll never be able to go out of the emerald ciry to watch the sunrise or sunset in the desert of iraq

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