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June 18, 2007

Can Anybody Remember As Far Back As January?

Petraeus-Gates

Why does Gen. David Petraeus (visually) supersede the head-down Secretary of Defense in this shot from Iraq on Saturday?  Maybe, because that’s the story.

If Gates says progress is “lagging,” what the hell does he know?  Rather, the image perfectly captures  the Administration spin.  Petraeus, the leader and latest TV star of Gulf War Restart XIV, somehow sees beyond the weeds to a victorious — or, at least, viable — U.S. (9 or 10 year) future in Iraq.

Not that this was the clear-cut choice for today’s image, however.  With Petraeus in mind, I was actually tempted to go with a shot from yesterday’s nytimes.com-leading article on the U.S./Iraqi “Big Offensive” north and south of Baghdad.  Surveying the little group of detainees in Baqouba, I particularly liked how the suspects were only presumed to be al Qaeda.  But even more revealing about the shot, I thought, was how the press is being lured into a misdirection play.  Can anybody remember as far back as January, when the Administration staked its absolute “last chance” on securing Baghdad?

Funny how Bush/Petraus snaps its fingers, and suddenly, attention turns to the provinces.

(And then, what about that “stunning turn around in Anbar” General “Feel Good” has been crowing about?  Abuaardvark explains how alliances in the area with “enemies of our enemies” can only be short-lived.)



(image: Andrew Gray/Reuters.  Baghdad, June 16, 2007. Via YahooNews.  caption:  U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates (C) walks with Army General David Petraeus (R), the top U.S. commander in Iraq, during a visit to a joint security station in Baghdad, June 16, 2007. U.S. troops, Iraqi soldiers and Iraqi police operate from the station.)

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  • Samantha

    What a goofball. Visually, the angle is just perfect for Petraeus. He’s like a camel sticking his head forward, oblivious to everyone around him.
    And it makes sense. Generals have come and gone in service to this administration. Many were stallions. Driven to the finish line, spirited, and rearing up when the environment around them threatens their progress forward. (Horses aren’t suited for the desert, after all.)
    But we can’t change the desert,…the war is what it is and we’re stuck there for decades, right? So what we need is an animal suited for compatibility with the desert, not a beast trying to overcome it. What we need is a camel. Camels aren’t interested in the finish line, or victory. They don’t complain about the heat or the sinking sand. They just stick their necks out and plod forward. No water? No problem. No end to the sand? No problem. The camel will just keep going.
    I didn’t understand at first why Sheehan gave up. But after they are all now openly talking about permanancy in Iraq, now I get it. Even Wes Clarke was on the radio yesterday saying, yup, 10 years. We are not leaving the middle east. This is not about victory, or plans working or not working. That’s all irrelevant. The point is we’re there and we’re going to just “manage” things.

  • ummabdulla

    I don’t understand why it’s even news that the U.S. is planning to be there for a long time. They haven’t made a secret of the huge embassy they’re building there.
    In this photo, Petraeus definitely looks to be in charge; Gates is just following along. Who’s the last guy, though, who seems to have a beard? Is he an Iraqi, or some Blackwater mercenary that they use for protection?

  • ummabdulla

    Samantha, I don’t know much at all about horses, but I have read about famous battles in Arabia, and the fighters did use horses as well as camels. Those Arabian horses must have been well enough suited for the desert.

  • http://www.thehuffingtonpost.com gabriela

    Samantha, I thought your camel metaphor for Petraeus was brilliant. Ummabdulla sez, what about horses, huh? Kind of missing the point. They also have indoor skiing next door in the United Arab Emirates but that doesn’t mean you should open a ski shop. I do remember Tommy Franks 4 years ago, with rummy, on the podium. Full of swagger, piss and vinegar. Petraeus reincarnates that. However, the universe has a way of bringing these shooting stars back to reality over time. The problem is these kids that keep getting blown to bits daily. As an aside, with this new 10,000 troop offensive in Bagdad. Just what the heck are the actual citizens doing to survive on a daily basis? With no electricity, water, sewage and sanitation… not to mention FOOD SUPPLY, when backs get turned, they are flocking to Iran and Syria and all over Europe with those bundles of worthless American greenbacks. Can’t spend it in Iraq but in Switzerland, you can be royalty – if you can get there.

  • http://www.dock.net/fuming_mucker/ Darryl Pearce

    My contact in Iraq sez: “It’s like Groundhog Day.

  • Aunt Deb

    Bag, this is off topic but I was wondering what you thought of the pictures that accompanied Dana Priest and Ann Hull’s articles in the Sunday Post?

  • http://solarray.blogspot.com gmoke

    Nice composition but everybody’s head is cut off. Petraeus is missing most of his brain, Gates is in fuller profile but looking down as if in despair, and the third person, possibly Iraqi (beard doncha know) is most nearly faceless.

  • Robin Lee

    When I saw the pictures and heard the story of the detainees all I could think was “Riiiiight?! Why should I believe that these folks aren’t just a bunch of Iraqi men caught up in a sweep? How do I know that we just didn’t kill 20 more innocent civilians?”
    There’s nothing, absolutely nothing that this government says that I won’t question. There is no reason to believe anything that comes out of the mouths of these people. And you know what, that is going to outlast this administration for years. Even if the Democrats get back in charge the government has been infected by the notion that the truth is optional. The “mooks” will swallow whatever they are told. That’s a dangerous thing to have let happen and wil be the lasting legacy of Bushism. I think that this is one of the really sad things about the last six years.

  • Cactus

    I wasn’t even going to comment on this, but every time I come across this photo, I immediately think of “Joe Camel” ads. The hat, or whatever it is, on the third guy even looks like the cigarette hanging from his thin lips. Apparently the photographer/editor had the same impression. As for Gates, we’d better hope he’s praying.

  • http://home.comcast.net/~sfs73/index.html MonsieurGonzo

    BAGHDAD (Reuters) : “Thousands of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers pushed on with simultaneous offensives in and around Baghdad on Thursday under a new strategy…
    …”If you’ve got it properly cordoned then they’re going to flee into somebody’s arms : it’s a trap,” U.S. military spokesman Rear Admiral Mark Fox told Reuters.
    Surprisingly conventional military thinking apparently persists in the U.S. Officer Corps, despite daily evidence to the contrary (asymmetrical, IED/ambush attacks to military force flows, e.g., roadways, utility & pipe lines; rather than direct, coordinated confrontation of the State) surely flooding in to Central Command headqarters.
    Though certainly there are ‘transient insurgents’ who move from one area to another, they do so amidst an entire population in disarray: mass migration; ethnic neighborhood dislocation; tribes & families gathering at perceived places of sanctuary, etc., their self-preservation taking precedence over any root sense of permanent residence.
    They are, after all, not insurgents at all; rather, they are resident resistances to alien occupation forces. Many are defending, if not their original residence, those residences of their cousins & uncles, the country homes where their fathers & grand-fathers came from; where their extended families have now fled: they need not “flee en masse into a net trap,” rather, they can simply “melt into the population” that after all, they, themselves are (!) And stop fighting outside in the streets, and go back inside, home.
    “winning” for them, is simply surviving. Can you trap that ?
    Until the American political and military leaders come to terms with the reality that ‘The Mission’ is Occupation, and ‘The Insurgency’ is Resistance, in my opinion the occupation will remain senseless; the resistance, mysteriously relentless.
    Apparently, such is our shame at the notion : “we are alien occupiers, they are resident resistance,” that an entire Nation and its Military find it necessary to indulge in this spectacular Folie à deux of strategy being some sort of clever “trap” : while history keeps telling us, daily ~ that all our fire power, this aerial bombardment and armoured assault ~ is nothing more important than impotent smoke : the delusion of our dignity.

  • putnam

    Now in the news everyone we’re fighting is al-Quaeda. The big offensive is said to have cornered hundreds of “al Quaeda” making a stand. It’s compared to the Fallujah battle, which apparently was not against Anbar resident Sunnis, but was against al Quaeda, who have slipped back into Fallujah. And it’s assumed and reported as a given fact that al Quaeda blew up the shrine minarets, although secular Sunni Baathists would also be good suspects.
    Ergo, in Iraq we are at war with al Quaeda. The word is now being used to rewrite history right in front of our eyes in every news report from Iraq.

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