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August 1, 2007

Iraq Beyond The Acronyms


(click for full size)

I was struck by the poetry of the language:

end result of vehicles

trying to make something good out of something bad

disposal remediation

small team, big operation

don’t have a spare tire

FOBS starting to fold down

yard utilization

cut it into a million pieces

running out of room

doubled since I got here


return the land back the way we found it

at the end of the day

our footprint

What happens when the government, in the role of guardian, engages in wretched aggression and deceit but pretends — to its charges and to the outside — that harm does not exist and that nothing is out of place?  The balance of the pain, the damage, the loss then becomes that much more freighted in symbolism.

On the one hand, it’s just about a junk-and-salvage yard.  But what opens up — between these images and the simple compassion of its undertaker — is the gaping hole between a mindless neocon fantasy and its incalculable short-changing.

In the wish just to get somebody out there a tire … and to “keep safe,” this atrocity meets its day break.  And at that point (just past the denial), there’s not that much separation between the physical and emotional; between the exploded and the deformed; between the vehicular body, the political body the human one.

Military Times video here.

(h/t: Wayne. image: U.S. Army Camp Al Asad Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office (DRMO) junkyard, December 7, 2006. Iraq.

  • margaret

    Michael, I don’t think anyone really questions the need to end this terrible war. It continues because, as we know, there are entities which want it for financial benefit and/or warped geo-political reasons. The hole in this armored vehicle just proves that no matter how well-armed we are, there is vulnerability. There is no way to fight a war and expect to come out alive and well, either as soldiers, or as a nation. We will suffer the effects of this for many decades to come.

  • Unbreathless

    A very poetic post over all. Though I find a lot of image interpretation requires an air of poetic interpretation. Like analyzing poetry, analyzing images requires looking for hidden meaning in something complete on its own.
    This vehicle is unrecognizable. I can hardly tell what it once was. It seems to mirror the war itself, and even America as a whole. We hardly recognize her anymore. So twisted she has become at the hands of war.
    Each of those vehicles bears the mark of battle, and hints at a story of near-death, if not death itself.
    We have also not even begun to think of the environmental damage this war has caused. When you think of France from WW2, there are still fields today that bear marks of that war, over 60 years later.

  • readytoblowagasket

    What happens when the government, in the role of guardian, engages in wretched aggression and deceit but pretends — to its charges . . .
    The trouble with this premise is that:
    1) the government is not our guardian, and
    2) the people are not its charges.
    As long as we continue to think this way,
    we are totally f*cked.
    As long as we accept the role of helpless child,
    we will be treated like children.
    We are not helpless.
    We are not charges.
    We are not children.

  • Gahso

    War brings death and damage in the current day, but worse still, it plants the seeds of the future wars. We should not forget that. We shouldn’t forget that Bin Laden’s mission was spawned by US interference in Saudi Arabia, and that he himself was trained by the CIA in Afghanistan. We shouldn’t forget that we were an ally of Saddam and sold him those horrible chemical weapons. We change rulers and their heirs come back to hold us hostage.
    War is Ugly. It is Ugliness itself. What we leave behind is this aweful war will germinate it’s own offspring. How many kids have been exposed to airstrikes, machine guns, IED’s, house searches, torture images, dissapeared fathers and brothers, hunger and putrid water, fear and sobbing and desperation? How can these things NOT affect them? They are easy targets for the jihadi trainers to recruit and manipulate into tomorrow’s tragic suicide headlines.
    Anyone who STARTS A WAR of choice has this aweful legacy. What a heavy chain to tie around one’s neck. I want to picture that heavy chain on the neck of George Bush, Bill Kristol, Cheney, and the others, but we’re all wearing it, really. Do something to put an end to this war and you’ll have less of this evil burden around your neck. Call your congressman to support impeachment. Hold a sign on a busy street. Write letters. Drive less. Buy local. Make it known where you stand.
    War is hell.

  • Unbreathless

    Frank Herbert had a great quote regarding that Gahso
    He said “Atrocity is recognized as such by victim and predator alike, by all who learn about it at whatever remove. Atrocity has no excuses, no mitigating argument. Atrocity never balances or rectifies the past. Atrocity merely arms the future for more atrocity. It is self-perpetuating upon itself — a barbarous form of incest. Whoever commits atrocity also commits those future atrocities thus bred.”
    My favorite quote.

  • Rafael

    There where people inside that thing. Men (and perhaps women) exposed to shock, shrapnel and fire. Today its an empty twisted hulk, but there where people inside…

  • paulimorph

    “She was Rachel weeping for her children, because they were not.” p.762

  • PTate in FR

    It has taken me several tries to figure out the subject of the picture, and I finally understand after viewing the video. This is a blasted vehicle photographed on a tour of a US Army salvage operation. We are behind the scenes of war and getting a glimpse of War as mundane logistic operation. The handsome, poised officer is telling us about his job. It’s a ironic juxtaposition, the poetry of his language and the arid images.
    The picture itself isn’t very interesting, imho, unlike most that we ponder. We can use our imaginations to fill in details, but the indignation is from our imagination. The picture itself is a blank canvas. I am confident that the photographer did not intend his military viewers to respond as the people on this thread are responding. In that sense, the neutrality of the picture is informative; It provides a kind of control– It helps me appreciate how the visuals we normally analyze are deliberate and intentional.
    Interesting article in the NYTimes a couple days ago on how the unconscious mind can be primed by environmental events of which one is unaware. Usually, our task on BnN is trying to bring these unconscious associations into awareness. But for me, I bring an obvious mindset to this morning task of seeing, since I have spent most of my morning obsessing over photos of last night’s catastrophic 35W Bridge collapse in Minneapolis, a bridge that is well known to me. All those horrified fat Americans in the photos, those people are familiar to me as well.
    A few days ago we were discussing how the visuals changed after 9/11. I don’t know if the imagery of the 35W Bridge collapse–a catastrophe but not terrorism– fits that discussion, but it certainly influences my perception of the destroyed tank.

  • Unbreathless

    I was having an interesting discussion the other day with my sister, who is a photographer. She was recalling a student she studied with who’s main form of photography was “documentation” photography, and he really disliked “emotional” photography, which my sister specializes in. The crux of the conversation being the emotional interpretation and who’s ’side’ it’s on.
    PTate brings up an interesting point about preconceptions and the reader being “primed” to interpret an image in a certain way. In a sense, this is the course all art takes, whether emotion was intended by the author or not. The difference is that some artists take their photos with intent, and others leave the intent to the reader. Ultimately though, the interpretation is always that of the reader/viewer, no matter the original intent of the author.
    You will hear many authors/artists lamenting that their art was interpreted incorrectly, but ultimately it is that the art was expressed “incorrectly” if there is such a possibility. In a way, this artist’s piece was given meaning by the readers.

  • jtfromBC

    “at the end of the day”
    a junkyard of US military machines
    multiple graveyards for Iraqi people

  • jtfromBC

    rtbag’s link ‘treated like children’ is excellent. A bit long perhaps for those who are rushed or not speed readers. I was fortunate to watch this one hour Moyers special interview. The last 8 minutes sums it up although there are other segments for those you enjoy an animated discussion. If you have difficult with this link
    go to Youtube
    search ‘Bill Moyers Journal: Impeachment Part 5′

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