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September 5, 2007

When You Stand On The Ground Here In Anbar


(click for full size)

Thanks for your messages.  I almost passed this up.

Besides the strange, and strangely uniform expressions (whiff of fear?), it seems like Bush/Gates/Condi must have be been pretty hot in those coats given those steamy Anbar evenings.

And yes, the best commentary on the pic were those two wonderful sentences back-to-back in the NYT write-up:

“When you stand on the ground here in Anbar and hear from the people who live here, you can see what the future of Iraq can look like,” [Bush] said, night having fallen at the base.

During his visit, Mr. Bush did not leave the base, a heavily fortified home to about 10,000 American troops about 120 miles west of Baghdad.

But in terms of the appearance of progress, which is what all this business is about, anyway (for which, someone deserves some congratulations for plunking down a real American fortress as compared to that train wreck they call the Green Zone), the real step forward from a year ago is that Administration folks have actually figured out how  to get their pictures taken on this front line of terrorism without the flak jackets. 

Now, about those heels….

(Briefly updated. 9/6/07)

(Jason Reed/Reuters.  Anbar Provence, Iraq. September 3, 2007.  via

  • PapaProf9

    My first thought when I saw this photo was, “My God, look at Condi’s shoes.” Remember the days of civilians like Rumsfeld and Bremmer hitting the ground with boots. (Boots enough for them, of course, but enough for an invasion force). Given the infamous story of Condi going on a shoe-spree in NYC while Katrina ravaged New Orleans, this image seemed to underscore the impression that she is somewhat disengaged with the reality on the ground. Something can be certainly said for Gates’ shiny loafers and Bush’s hybrid walkers. But $400 heels? On the ground in Iraq?

  • Books Alive

    Condi’s silver jacket drew my attention almost immediately. Knowing that metallic fabrics are in style (again), I wanted to see it closer up to know for sure just how festively she was dressed. Metallic or not, she and Gates are in business dress, but Bush in a black shirt and open collar is most certainly not.

  • bob h

    Actually, the “front line of terrorism” seems to be in Germany as of Wednesday morning.

  • lytom

    Threading lightly, I just wonder how much blood is soaked up in the sand!
    Threading lightly with long shadows emphasizing the stealthiness of their arrival.
    Hummers nicely positioned to cut their silhouetted heads at the wheels.

  • jtfromBC

    Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men ? The Shadow knows.

  • demit

    Tsk, high heels in the desert are the perfect symbol of the perfect uselessness of Condoleezza Rice. But the main feeling that photo evokes for me is foreboding. If you’ve ever had the feeling of looking at something in the present and flashing on the feeling you’ll have looking on it at some point in the future, only with the knowledge of what has transpired in between… The inscrutable facial expressions, the floodlights, those long shadows—this is an ominous tableau. I get the sense we’ll be seeing this photo again—alongside text that will explain it, contextually, in the story of this misbegotten war and the terrible decisions made by those who authored it.

  • Katherine Hunter

    when the surprise visit was first announced i heard about it on the radio and much to my surprise Bush’s first words referring to himself and his companions was / “this is the A team” / has anyone else heard this ? i have not seen it referenced anywhere.

  • Gahso

    Whiff of fear, indeed. No flak jackets and treading on dangerous ground. I’d swear they are half looking for IED’s with each step. None of them would last 5 minutes on an actual patrol – doing the work they are making our soldiers do tour after tour after tour.
    I also get “dark night of the soul” from this shot. The blackness that surrounds them, with almost no context whatsoever. The one thing that’s surely missing are any Iraqi people to interact with. Just like the Patriot Act, or the Ashcroft visit, some things this Administration does can only happen in the dead of night. It also “sheds some light” on the prior post – that’s not daylight with all those happy smiles – it’s a well lit studio shot.
    Bravo, George for being so brave as to visit your troups for 6 hours in the dead of night in a fortified base in the middle of the desert… and still look scared out of your mind!

  • jtfromBC

    In Jan of 2003 I acquired a computer, TomDispatch to Juan Cole’s blog, from where I discovered the brown paper BAGs drawings. These site have remained on my mandatory reading list, so fwiw check out
    Toms recent ‘Empire of Stupidity’ it may be his most *important dispatch* ever.

  • margaret

    This administration has gone in big time for group shots of the players walking. At first, in the early years, they were dressed in cowboy clothes and coming at us like the Magnificent 7. Now, they are walking away….to the left!
    Those long, dark shadows certainly are a contrast to the bright sunshine of 2002-2 Texas!

  • PTate in FR

    They’re all in black and gray. wow, sober. Men (and woman) in Black. I wonder what the sensation was like for GWB, CR & Gates, arriving after a long flight, jet-lagged, getting out and walking around in the desert, the sand, the heat, the different odors and sounds, the night stars. Of course, they were there to do a particular job and aren’t reflective in the first place…but did any of the difference pierce through?
    I wonder if the author of that article intended us to read his text as a profound metaphor: “you can see what the future of Iraq can look like,” [Bush] said, night having fallen at the base. “
    “…night having fallen at the base”, indeed.

  • Rafael

    What with the black. Is Bush marching to the tune of his own political funeral? Or has he finally accepted the role of the black hat villain in his own western?

  • Cactus

    There is something of monochromatic doom and gloom in this photo. Condi’s shoes show a narcissism which, perhaps, matches The W’s. They all cast a long shadow, but it goes where? Into the blackness of Iraq at night, the terror of the unseen. And are those hummers parked thusly to make it impossible to steal them?

  • mcc

    I just can’t get over how strange and unreal these photos look. They look like they were taken on the surface of the moon or something.

  • Tom Bialke

    Look at their positions relative to one another. Looks like someone instructed them to keep a distance between them, so if an assination attempt on one would not affect the others. See how Condi and Cheney are looking down, carefully making sure the do not get too close the Target.

  • Rafael

    I don’t think anyone would waste any bullets on those three.

  • moistened bink

    My first thought was that Bush looks like he expected to be shot at or at least yelled at. He has his head down and his shoulders hunched up like he is trying to to make himself less visible. Condi justs is looking down so she doesn’t trip in those heels. But they all do look mighty guilty.

  • Enoch Root

    “When you stand on the ground here in Anbar and hear from the people who live here, you can see what the future of Iraq can look like,”
    …you mean roadblocked by Humvees?
    Also, those aren’t floodlights, they’re photo flashes. And I betcha ten bux Bush is wearing Kevlar.

  • arty

    Mr. Root: Actually, they’re lights for the video crews, because they’re performing for television. They’re not flashes.

  • KansasKowboy

    I was wondering what is with Bush and black these days. Seems that in Iraq all the photos I saw of him there he is wearing black. I guess it is appropriate though. In the old cowboy movies the bad guy always wore black. As for Condi’s heels? I am speechless.

  • Jacques

    What strikes me is how tall Junior looks, because normally he looks like a bit of a shrimp. Do you think it was a standin?

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