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May 18, 2013

Afghan War Pictures: Forward Equals Backward, Up Equals Down

If you missed it, this photo by AP’s Anja Niedringhaus from Afghanistan has circulated widely the last few days. Here’s the caption:

A U.S. soldier arrived to the scene where a suicide car bomber attacked a NATO convoy in Kabul on Thursday. Afghan insurgent group Hezb-e-Islami killed at least 15 people, including six Americans, in a suicide bombing in Kabul that the militants said was in reaction to President Hamid Karzai’s recent offer of long-term bases to the U.S.

Just like the Reuters photos by Andrew Burton we discussed a few months back (1, 2), the visuals of the war effort have descended largely into parody. In this case, the degree of muscle and resolve of the American serves mostly (in contrast to this) as a counterpoint to how impotent the mission has become.

  • bks3bks

    Everyone in the picture looks calm except the U.S. soldier. Reminds me of the Sesame Street puzzle: “One of these things is not like the others.”


  • bystander

    I “get” the idea of this photograph being offered as counterpoint to US impotence. If I were the US military/DoD, I’d want this photo out there to serve that purpose. But, what baffles me is why – other than very superficially – anyone thinks it works for that purpose. What, precisely, is this serviceman pointing his weapon at? All I can see from the photo is the burned out hulk of what I presume might have been a vehicle. The soldier’s widened eyes (?) suggests that something might be on the business end of his weapon, but we haven’t a clue what it might be. The context suggests it could only be a corpse, or a part of one.

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