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May 24, 2007



I was looking at the images connected with yesterday’s NYT article about the search for missing U.S. soldiers in Iraq. On thing photographer Michael Kamber’s photos indicate is the greater willingness of The Times to reveal the hurt being inflicted on our side — as long as it’s confined to a slide show.

If the shots of the wounded are not that distinctive, the slide that seems more emblematic is the shot of the Staff Sergeant, sitting on the ground, in shock.  The image of trauma in such proximity to impact (also captured in the shot of a soldier crying a short while after) does conveys the emotional laceration these soldiers absorb, then go on to contain in their psyches and bodies.

More quintessential, however, was the image above.  Ruling out paths and roads to pursue their search after suffering the IED, the soldiers end up cutting cross-country.  If there was ever a metaphor to describe our situation right now, Mr. Kamber hands it to us right there.

(image: Michael Kamber/N.Y. Times. May 19, 2007. Iraq.

  • Wayne Dickson

    How do you say “Quagmire”?
    Remember Pete Seeger’s Vietnam protest song, “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy”?
    The Sergeant said, “Sir, with all this equipment
    No man will be able to swim.”
    “Sergeant, don’t be a Nervous Nellie,”
    The Captain said to him.
    “All we need is a little determination;
    Men, follow me, I’ll lead on.”
    We were — neck deep in the Big Muddy
    And the big fool said to push on.

  • Phil

    It is more than a quagmire comparrision. These images look like the soldiers crossing rice paddies in Vietnam. I saw images on CNN where the soldiers were walking through the wheat field because they could not walk on the roads in fear of IEDs. It looked like a Vietnam movie from the 70s. These are not signs of progress.

  • Gasho

    At first it was all air power, shock and awe. Then it was all about the Hummers and armor plates. The house to house urban warfare was originally to be avoided at all costs because casualties would be high and it would be difficult to fight. Eventually, the urban war became the norm. This kind of “dealing with the landscape” image, though, represents a new low for the almighty USA millitary machine. A kid with a slingshot would look like a formidable opponent in this picture.
    I wonder if Iraq will actually change the world balance of power? Fighting in Afganistan brought down the USSR according to some. If we can’t “win” a fight we have picked – after launching a campaign we called “shock and awe” – doesn’t that knock us off the high horse a little?
    Makes me think of the Beastie Boys line: “.. ya can’t cut the mustard when you’re frontin’ it all !”

  • garyb50

    Interesting how the photographer’s narrative regarding the above photo does not fit my first impression. He says they were laughing about it although they were aware that they would be sitting ducks had there been a lurking sniper.
    The feeling I got from watching the slideshow was that it pretty much verifies what I’ve read about war and combat. It may be hell but for many of these guys (those who survive intact, of course) it will be the highlight of their lives.
    Very strange, that.

  • Mesopotamian Scribe

    Enheduanna (c. 2300 BC), a Sumerian poet/priestess

  • tina

    Quagmire, indeed. Or even quicksand?
    Is that my imagination or is that a less heavily burdened Iraqi soldier offering our guy a hand to pull him out of the mud?
    This would make the symbolism in the picture even more poignant, wouldn’t it?

  • donna

    Bin Laden’s stated goal was to bring down the U.S. economically by getting us stuck in quagmire. He thought he might accomplish that in Afghanistan, but world sympathies meant we got a lot of help there, even though of course Afghanistan is still a mess.
    Bush helped him to succeed in his goals by continuing into Iraq, as planned in the PNAC. Some neocons still think they can take Iran, too.
    With a quarter of the world’s oil sitting under Iran, it’s still the big prize. The hope is to set up bases in Iraq and then create confrontation with Iran.
    The plan is not going so well, and most Americans are sick of dreams of empire and what will be our big mistake of trying to control the world’s oil. Germany failed in controlling coal, we will fail in controlling oil. Someone will be smart enough to switch to alternative energy, make the advances needed, and we’ll fall behind.
    Economically, we are at record levels of private, corporate, and public debt. The Chinese still hope we’ll buy their products and so help keep our dollar afloat – but with the housing market cratering, the American consumers may not be able to continue their binge.
    Only stuck in the mud of Iraq? We wish. If that were the problem it might be solvable. NO, we are stuck in the last century, the PNAC “new century”, when what we need is to begin envisioning the next century.
    It will not be an American one, that’s for sure.

  • mullah cimoc

    mullah cimoc say now good time for ameriki remember who starting this war. who make ameriki for to kill the muslim.
    answer: him neocon. him israeli spy operative.
    for this so much the torture and the suffering. patriot ameriki needing for escape control of masters in tel aviv. be free amerika.
    usa media so control now.

  • TexasVietVet

    Let ‘em get bogged down. I’m beginin’ to think that the only way out of the whole mess is for bu$h to destroy the military by gettin’ them in a huge quagmire in IRAQ AND IRAN. The Dems are all for the war now. So, let’s go to Tehran, boys. Head ‘em up, move ‘em out. Start the invasion now. When the military is destroyed, maybe, just maybe, the rest of the country will come to some point where it will finally believe the truth.
    And it’s one, two, three, four, what are fightin’ for? It’s got to be for bu$h’s legacy ’cause the a$$hole ain’t got no honor. ;)

  • lytom

    Wow, those types of footprints and handprints -
    The mud is not the wet concrete of the Hollywood and there is no glory! The pain, footprints, sweat, blood will disappear and the effort of such deeds will remain locked in damaged minds of these men, who had no moral cause to be there. The effort to stay on the course of surge at decider’s bidding.
    The mud, just like the resistance will in the end win.
    Iraq, like numerous other places in time, will slowly write the history of defeat for such as cheney, bush, bliar, … hey even for the democrats and republicans in union of 280 + 80 in lead to such a folly.
    The times of the winter in Moscow, Stalingrad, Leningrad…in the end at such cost, will triumph.

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