Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
December 3, 2007

All Over But The Looting


This latest NYT photo from Baghdad draws a parallel between a city recently riddled in violence, and a Baghdad that has been subdued — and is now simply lawless.  The accompanying article (“Nonstop Theft and Bribery Stagger Iraq”) — profiling a guy running a car wash with bootlegged city water, who sleeps in a nearby abandoned government building without paying any rent — is meant to showcase a city cited as the 3rd most corrupt in the world.

With this man fixing his aim and covering his face like a desperado, the analogy is that we’re pretty much back where we started.  But then, what are we to expect in the way of order in Baghdad after completely undermining the structure that was in place, sitting back and watching, then spending four years and tens of thousands of lives before finally tamping down the explosion that ensued?

In the video that accompanies the article, the “proprietor,” Abbas Wadi Kadhim — obviously defensive and ashamed about what he’s doing — angrily asserts to the camera that, desperate to support his family, he could be doing far worse things.  Perhaps the bigger issue at this point, however, is who are we to even be hinting at his morality?

(…Oops, I forgot.  The photo above is just a thumbnail.  You have to click on it to get the whole picture.)

Article link.

(image: Michael Kamber.  December 1, 2007.  Baghdad.

  • Rafael

    I commented on my podcast that at best, the Surge would simply “reboot” the situation in Iraq, and that appears to be the case here. As we say in Spanish “Borron y Cuenta Nueva”.

  • KingElvis

    It’s hundreds of thousands of lives but who’s counting? Other than the Lancet Medical Journal that is – they said 600,000 dead as a result of the war and that was over a gear ago.
    Point taken though.

  • jtfromBC

    “stuff happens” eh
    Declaring that freedom is “untidy,” Def/Sec D. R. said Friday the looting in Iraq was a result of “pent-up feelings” of oppression and that it would subside as Iraqis adjusted to life without Saddam Hussein. April 12 2003 – CNN

  • gabriella medina

    you talk about lawless, this stolen water and squatting in a gov’t building is lawless” light”. This guy could be shot dead by almost anyone, anytime… that didn’t like his service or his price of they splashed water on the upolstry…. and who would hold the murderer accountable for their actions? Maybe a relative if they were interested in retribution, but these 600,000 murders that were committed, along with every other crime of violence, corruption, theft, intimidation. Nothing! That is the lawlessness I’m talking about. What individual hasn’t committed some crime to survive. They didn’t make it this far in Iraq by being model citizens and going to work every day and paying their taxes and utility bills.

  • jtfromBC

    gabriella medina, your correct concerning *lawless light* the 600,000 figure is the lower estimate the higher is 1,200,000 by now its probally closer to one million. The 600,000 figure appeared in the LA Times once I think. Reporting a 40,000 Iraqi death count is exceptional and about as adventurous as the MSM gets, folks who should know better like Bill Moyers get tongued tied and stay far away from this reality.

  • gmoke

    The baseball cap and bandana could be anywhere. I flashed on Mexico but it could be in Latin America too.

  • rn

    To me, it was strange that a Times article about the extent of bribery and corruption in post-surge Iraq focused instead on a guy who’s created a car wash business by siphoning water from a leaky pipe. The car wash entrepreneur is part of the informal economy — he’s engaged in totally legal trade but doing it in an illegal way in that he’s not paying for the water. This is not criminal behavior. Bribery, extortion and corruption, of course, are.

Refresh Archives

Random Notes