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March 24, 2008



5 years

4,000 U.S. military dead

Between 82,349 – 89,867 Iraqi civilians lost to violence

The reason Michael Kamber’s photo — appearing in the NYT Picture of the Day gallery, March 6 — is so powerful is because it’s the perfect metaphor.

Our people might look like they can breath easier and have it mostly in hand, but the teetering, tinderbox structure of the country; and the unworkable, band-aid, “made-in-our-name” government; and the temporary “pay ‘em to stand down for awhile” strategy that’s is suddenly not looking so elective anymore represents a guaranteed, if slow-motion train wreck.

While the media and the political establishment refuses to look at the overall picture, the photographer can’t miss it.

(And doesn’t that middle section of the building, in particular, look almost skull-ish?)

Read the Rolling Stone article which sets the record straight.  (And while you’re there, check out Danfung Dennis’s photo gallery, including the completely subtle photos of cooperation/collusion between the U.S. military and the Mahdi Army and Shiite militia-infested Iraqi National Police.)

NYT Pictures of the Day (March 6, 2008)

Iraqi civilian losses (

(image: Michael Kamber for the New York Times.  2008.  caption: At Combat Outpost Carver, near Salman Pak, an Iraqi town, American soldiers ate their evening meals in front a building destroyed in earlier fighting. As the fifth-year mark of the United States invasion of Iraq approached, President Bush spoke in Washington to observe the fifth anniversary of the creation of the Department of Homeland Security.

  • croatoan

    Do you have a citation for “More Iraqis lost than under Saddam’s entire rule”? I’m not disputing it, but I skimmed the Rolling Stone article and didn’t see any stats.

  • The BAG

    The text leading the post under the image originally stated that more Iraqis have been lost during the occupation than under Saddam’s rule.  That is inaccurate, and I thank croatoan for raising the point.  According to stinkzone, it is possible to go so far as saying that Iraqis have been dying at a higher rate under the occupation than they were under Saddam.  Perhaps the most reliable count for what is admittedly a staggering number of Iraqi losses is, and I’ve replaced my original text with their current total.

  • Anne

    You guys might want to look a litter deeper for stats on deaths/disabilities on both sides of the illegal occupation. Well over 1 million Iraqi’s have died (and since ‘official deaths’ of American soldiers in Iraq are limited to those people who die ‘on the ground’ in Iraq – not those who die in hospital after being injured in Iraq and flown out, the ‘official’ death toll is ridiculously low). Here are some links, in case you’d like to find out more.
    And, yes, the center of the building is reminiscent of a skull – and the relaxed posture as these soldiers are eating seems to indicate the same ‘business as usual’, ‘nothing to see here’ attitude that the main stream media also evidences about the entire bloody, illegal fiasco.

  • MonsieurGonzo

    This is what ‘Victory’ is, what to vanquish means ~ and what it has always looked like, fwiw ~ from the POV of the soldiers who survive warfare, which is, after all, what they strive to do.
    This is not news, something new, to anyone save the new soldier, who has never experienced ‘Victory’. We often talk about “Leaders… who have never served in the military,” or “been in combat,” etc., but IMHO it is much more important for Leaders, and for the people they lead into War-making to understand, or realize : to see what ‘Victory’ has always looked like.
    Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, and many other Americans longed for Warfaire, for one reason or another. It was not because they did not understand ~ or “we all failed to remember” ~ what making war was, but that they never knew, and we did forget what ‘Victory’ has always been.
    Mr. McCain is a war survivor, but he has never experienced ‘Victory’ : albeit older, he is as any new soldier might be. ‘Victory’ is not a parade, or peace, or prosperity. ‘Victory’ is this: shedding your kit and eating a meal with your mates in this rubble aftermath . . . There is this strange silence; there is a weird guilt in being a survivor; there is among all and above all else a feeling of Love in the Ruins, in ‘Victory’, fwiw.

  • Esoth

    Something else struck me about this picture, with its group of 3 soldiers clustered together on the right-hand side, pretty much preoccupied with their MRE’s, sitting in the relatively clear space. . . . and then there’s the 4th soldier, on the left, sitting beneath the skull-like building, apart from and unnoticed by the other 3, while he stares off into some middle distance. It filled me with a kind of dread sadness.

  • Asta

    The photo suggests to me that we are on the edge of the abyss and it won’t take much of nudge to send us right over.

  • jtfromBC

    Okay lads, do your bit, dispose garbage in nearest container as we demand ~
    The U.S. and the U.K. accept their special, heavy liability for the destruction of Iraq,offering war reparations as a one-time lump sum in the order of US$ 250-500 billion.
    Nir Rosen is one of the few informed, reliable and fearless reporters, Danfung Dennis pics compliment this excellent coverage of Iraq by Rolling Stones.
    Iraq must be the first terrestrial Black Hole discovered in our galaxy.
    Among those questionable *violence figures* and recording practises, it should be noted that IBC defines civilian to exclude Iraqi soldiers, insurgents, suicide bombers or any others directly engaged in war-related violence.
    Casualties of the Iraq War (fwiw composite of various recording sources)
    looking forward to discovering the lapsometer, thanks, MG

  • gasho

    Past generations may have watched wars on pre-movie “news reels” and on television but for me and many others, the war is unfolding online – on Blogs and news sites.
    This image becomes just another to reinforce the stupidity of getting into a war in the middle east. It’s so obviously part of Cheney et al’s Geo-global-domination plan – but in reality, we’re loosing everything (strength, lives, our wealth and reputation) to become unwanted landlords to broken buildings like this one.
    The large triangle of broken concrete catches my eye immediately and indicates the weight of the mistake and the direction of the whole endeavour.

  • cenoxo

    (And doesn’t that middle section of the building, in particular, look almost skull-ish?)
    And in this image, who is the eater, and who are the eaten? The war-torn building about to devour the unsuspecting soldier brings to mind Saturn Devouring One of His Sons (1820-24), one of Francisco Goya’s black paintings.
    From the New England Review article, The Mystery of Goya’s Saturn by Jay Scott Morgan:
    First comes Chaos; then Earth/Gaia; Tartarus in the bowels of Earth; and finally Eros. Earth gives birth to Heaven, also known as Ouranos, and then bears twelve of his children, the last, “most terrible of sons/The crooked-scheming Kronos.” Earth and Ouranos have three more sons, so fearsome and mighty that Ouranos forces them back inside their mother, burying them alive.
    She forms a sickle, and asks her other sons to use it against their father, “For it was he/Who first began devising shameful acts.” All are afraid, except Kronos. She gives him the sickle, hides him in her, and he castrates his father, preventing him from having more children, then assumes power among the Titans. But fear lives in his heart; a usurper himself, he learns that one of his own children will usurp him, and he devours them at birth:
    As each child issued from the holy womb
    And lay upon its mother’s knees, each one
    Was seized by mighty Kronos, and gulped down.
    Through a ruse by his mother, the last born, Zeus, survives, leads a war against Kronos, and casts him down to Tartarus. Even gods cannot overcome Fate.

    Nor can Jolly Green Giants, walking the Earth.

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