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August 30, 2007

More September Wallpaper: Ducks In A Row

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“W” offered congratulations, and Monday’s headlines spoke of a political deal.

Inspecting more carefully, however, the decision reached among Iraq’s factional leaders to restore military and civil service privileges to former Baath party members was far less than meets the eye. The agreement was not only the least significant issue dividing the warring factions, but even this understanding remains tentative, subject to formal ratification by the overall Parliament.

It was Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi (second from left) who announced the “breakthrough,” even though the decision by his Iraqi Islamic Party to abandon the government remains in effect.

But no matter that al-Hashemi called out these agreements as trivial (“a wedding without a bride” was his analogy), of larger significance– to our government by PR — was the picture.  Besides hyping a claim  the Iraqi government had crossed some benchmarks off its list, what it also evidenced documentation of was an otherwise unreconcilable lineup of Iraqi leaders announcing collective progress at the same table.

If Vice Presidents Adel Abdul-Mehdi and Tariq al-Hashemi, President Jalal Talabani, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and the Kurd leader Massoud Barzani look mostly miserable, however, it was because American pressure forced their appearance, just as the pressure has ratcheted up for every other arbitrary American deadline and milestone.  Along that lines, perhaps the equivalent metaphor for Mr. Hashemi’s “bride” expression, as well as the entire group photo, might be “shotgun wedding.”)

Iraq-Administration

Being back in country, I’m enjoying the chance to look at daily news in hard copy once again, especially when print content diverges from what’s on-line.  In this instance, for example, the on-line photo has been cropped at the table line.

On one hand, it’s doesn’t seem unusual that Talabani, as President, would hold down the center and even preside over the presentation.  At the same time, however, with the Administration looking to toss the Iraqi Prime Minister, doesn’t this read like Malaki (second from right), eyes downcast and legs pulled in, has actually already been deposed?

(image: Associated Press.  August 26, 2007.  Baghdad, Iraq.  via nytimes.com)

  • margaret

    At first glance, even without the feet, the central figure gave me the impression that he had authority of the real kind. I mean, a force of personality, someone with self-confidence. Maliki always looks so worried and introverted, thinking to himself, worried thoughts. The picture with the feet really emphasizes that impression.
    There is not unity at this table. How difficult it is to “make” a new government. I would imagine that there might have been such pictures at our earliest Constitutional conventions, when our Founding Fathers were hashing it out. They not only had to contend with Great Britain, but they also had an unruly mob with slavery, frontier ethics, sympathizers with the Tories, etc to deal with, not to mention legitimate arguments of reasonable people. Bush really gave the poor Iraqis an almost impossible task to achieve democracy within a certain time frame. (And, they are doing it in a region of the world which hasn’t centuries of Enlightenment philosophy as a foundation.) It took us over ten years to get something together which could begin to stitch the former Colonies together, and even then, there were rocky years ahead of us. Which tells me that we should leave the Iraqi’s alone. They are brilliant people and can work it out, within the context of their civilization, without our meddling and propping up the weaker players at the top.

  • lytom

    House of cards. These heads are in prominence only because they have been approved by the foreign ruler – USA -, who is there only because of lies and military might.
    What other qualifications do they have?
    They have been accepted by the media, after all who dictates to the media the “truth”?
    Who represents Iraqi living outside Iraq?

  • jtfromBC

    Lytom, interesting questions especially your last one.
    Here we observe two pieces of Saddam’s furniture hastily shoved together for this publicity stunt. Its fitting that our old invasion buddy Jalal Talabani our man from Kurdistan is physically and symbolically centered giving the illusion or impression of pulling the tables and factional leaders together The “strongman” Iyad Allawi trusted former CIA asset and terrorist is in the political wings preparing to return for the final act. If he is successful I suspect like Vietnam’s President Thieu he will be “our” next man in and “our” last man out when the green zone is overrun.

  • Joseph

    This is a stretch — but the arrangement of flags against the staircase looks like a strangely misshapen “W” in the background while the lone stars on the flags call to mind Texas swagger over substance.

  • PTate in FR

    The man in the middle seems comfortable, but the other four! I’ve seen more enthusiastic non-verbals in adolescents at family gatherings.
    Cropping the legs is interesting–the legs (hattip, John Lucaites) communicate the disagreement. One curled up as close to a fetal position as a public posture can be, one spread out as if he is about to push away from the table. The two men bookending the table have interesting expressions, the one resigned and sad, the other cynical, angry.

  • itwasntme

    Somebody needs to ’shop this as the Last Supper, with Bush as Judas, of course.

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