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April 30, 2008

Green Zone Fireworks


Dramatic shot, yes?

This image, from yesterday's newswire, was taken over the embattled Green Zone in Iraq.  I offer the photo less as documentation of battle, however, than as evidence of how the MSM, in small ways as well as large, continues to censor itself in collusion with the government.

What am I talking about?  Well, can you tell what's happening just from looking at this image?  From WAPO's caption in its April 29th "Day In Pictures" slide show, you can get some of the meaning:

April 28: A U.S. Army medevac helicopter flies over rising smoke in the heavily-fortified Green Zone in Baghdad. At least 38 died in some of the most violent clashes in the capital in weeks.

Still, isn't it curious why WAPO fails to describe, let alone even mention, those projectiles below the helicopter?  Is it enemy fire (the news of which would potentially stir people up, seeing the nerve center of our Iraq mission — as well as the HQ of our installed government — subject to such dramatic bombardment)?  Is it coalition fire?  Are they flares?

Well, I went searching for the original caption that AP distributed with the photo, and it reads as follows:

A U.S. Army medevac helicopter flies over rising smoke in the heavily-fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq, on Monday, April 28, 2008. Shiite extremists lobbed rockets or mortar shells at the U.S. protected Green Zone on Monday, as U.S. and Iraqi troops engaged militants in the most violent clashes in weeks in Baghdad, killing at least 38.

Funny what the presence or absence of a few words can do.  What the WAPO caption does, in this case, is relegate the image to a visual genre the Administration established in Iraq from Day One.  You can file it under fireworks show.

Friday's MSNBC piece is a must read:  New U.S. embassy complex in Green Zone lacks adequate housing. Hundreds of U.S. workers living in unprotected trailers.  More than a dozen killed in latest series of attacks. New U.S. embassy in Iraq short on housing. (

2 US Troops Killed, 21 Wounded; 37 Iraqis Killed in Baghdad Clashes (Juan Cole)

(image: Khalid Mohammed – AP.  April 28, 2008.  Baghdad. via WAPO)

  • sly civilian

    well, there might have been mortar fire at the time, but those really do have a pretty strong resemblance to flares. i could be wrong, but it looks like the helo dropped them a few moments earlier (note that the smoke trail back levels off at the hight of the helo). otherwise, it’s just plain long odds to get two projectiles directly underneath, visually framed like that.

  • black dog barking

    We see damage (smoke), casualty (medevac), and the perception of imminent danger (if, in fact, the flares are meant to beguile heat-seeking anti-aircraft munitions). Another day in paradise.
    I’m starting to lose my patience. If the Iraqis don’t step up in the next 10-15 years I think we should take a long hard look what we’re doing, maybe cut back or buy our oil someplace else. Some people just can’t handle freedom. Or civilization.

  • DC

    Got to be flares dropped by the helo. The unasked question is why is it that US helos have to drop defensive flares after all these years of progress and hard work and the blossoming of peaance and freeance?
    I though we had the dead-enders on the run.

  • catfood

    Why doesn’t anyone talk about all the GOOD things happening in Iraq, such as the the 23 new Starbucks that have opened in Sadr City?

  • R

    Reminds me of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 80s. Aircraft would start dumping flares the moment they entered Afghani airspace because they feared attacks from Stinger missiles.
    The fact that the insurgency still has these kinds of weapons (Saddam’s supply of old SA-7s Strelas must have run out a some time ago) shows their ability to resupply and the vulnerability of U.S. forces, even in the heart of Baghdad.
    Progress, ya gatta love it!

  • T. Moynihan

    I haven’t seen any reports that any Iraqi actors have Stinger-type missles (or other heat seekers). I think you would see much higher losses of both fixed wing and rotor craft if they did, ala the Soviet experience. I think it is done out of an abundance of caution and a desire not to be the first craft shot down if heat-seekers do suddenly appear on the (urban) battlefield. IIRC, until the US changed tactics more than a year ago, air losses to hostile fire were mostly due to lucky RPG hits and/or “ambushes” by heavy machine guns waiting under known US low-altitude flight paths. Is there newer info out there?

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