Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
January 15, 2008

Now Diyala

(click for full size)

080111 Ps10 Wide-HorizontalFor about two weeks, I’ve been collecting different variants of this same image.

Typical of the home raid photos that were so prevalent in 2004-5, the hostilities north of Baghdad offer "more of the same" for a country experiencing basically the same rate of chaos as the year before last.  (As WAPO Pentagon reporter Thomas Ricks described the other day, the surge was successful because “Iraq is no longer on the front pages every day.”)

Why this pic trumps the others is because of how intensely it captures the other-wordly ferocity of our "big boot," wack-a-mole campaign to forestall an all-out civil war.  With occupation forces tearing through Sunni homes in Diyala (some of which, yes, are rigged, earning the new designation of "house bombs"), what is tragic is how much the shoeless Iraqis come off here as the bigger aliens.

image from: In Diyala, A New Offensive (Newsweek)
Ricks: Baghdad Only Seems ‘Peaceful’ Because 2006 Was ‘Pure Hell
’ (Think Progress)

9 U.S. Soldiers Killed in Sunni Strongholds (NYT)

(image: Danfung Dennis / WPN for Newsweek.  Diyala, Iraq. 2007.  newsweek.com)

  • gasho

    Check out the look on the iraqi dude’s face. He’s mesmerized by the unearthly being who’s been planted in his living room. The train of though inside his head must be incredible. He looks like the image before his eyes must be burning a permanent memory in his mind. There is no chance that this “other” can be seen as human. They (probably) don’t speak the same language, they don’t look remotely similar. Who would even guess that they both have hearts that pump and to misquote shakespeare.. if you cut them, do they not bleed? That soldier, I have to say, looks like Rummy’s “Army of One” with all that high tech weaponry strapped on.
    The question I’m left with though is this..
    What is he doing there? Is he there to take over this man’s country? No. Is he there because he’s looking for WMD? No. Is he there because this guy wants him there to protect him? No. Is he there securing oil contracts for his home country.. hmm. I’m not even sure. He’s looking for dangerous people that are blending into the population and blowing things up. Is he looking for them because they’re dangerous to his home country? I’m not sure about that, either.
    I wonder if the Iraqi man knows why the soldier is there.
    I wonder if the soldier knows why he himself is there.
    Does anybody understand why this “Army of One” is in this guy’s livingroom??

  • lytom

    This is the “window” to why US can never win the hearts and minds. The future is not yours! That goes for all time occupiers, past, present and future!
    Invasion of country, invasion of home. Threats to life, to family, to nature. Stealing the resources. Ignorant about customs and language. Aggressive and obnoxious behavior and attitude of superiority. Advantage in technology, yet cold in heart.
    Brainwashed, believing their leaders that they are the answer to the country, that happens to have more culture and history, than the USA.
    My heart goes to those who are occupied by the beasts.

  • garyb50

    Reminds me of the opening of ‘Brazil.’

  • http://solarray.blogspot.com gmoke

    This is Star Wars. The soldier looks like a larger version of the midget scavengers that try to take C3PO and R2D2 apart in the first movie. We are the Imperial Storm Troopers.
    Incidentally, I just watched an Argentinian film about the children of the disappeared. There’s a montage as she studies the history of that period and the School of the Americas and Henry Kissinger figure prominently. That is what they know of the United States, along with Britney and Madonna and Tom Cruise.

  • frances

    I was struck by how much the soldier resembled the Borg of StarTrek fame. How horrible an experience for all of them and how totally miserable all of them must be to be in that time and place.
    Thank you by the way for the consistently sensitive and great job you do.

  • KansasKowboy

    we are there in Iraq so that the Military Industrial Complex call sell the US Army all that gear.

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

    ref : “…what is tragic is how much the Iraqi’s come off here as the bigger aliens.
    in a recent poll, one-half of Americans believe: “the U.S. is at war with Iraq.”

  • NinaBerman

    Amazing photograph. The sandals and the message being sent — remove shoes prior to entering a Muslim home — adds a nice detail to a great picture of cultural transgression already apparent in the space monster (US Soldier) vs. humans (Iraqis) set up. Not only has a space alien invaded the living room, but he didn’t remove his shoes — an expected act of courtesy when entering a Muslim home.

Refresh Archives

Random Notes