10/17/2005 12:05 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Reading The Iraq Pictures: Big Foot, No Footprint


Perhaps the most ironic thing about President Bush's staged videoconference with American soldiers last week was that the soldiers happened to be stationed in Tikrit.

You would never know it from the mainstream media, but Tikrit has been a focal point in the increasingly mindless, futile and horrific campaign of horror and violence perpetrated by U.S. forces against the largely innocent citizens of the Anbar Province. ( See more on my latest BAGnewsNotes post: Extreme Home Make Over: Iraq Edition - link).

The day before the national referendum to vote on the well-hyped Iraqi constitution, this picture showed up among the political photos at YahooNews. It, too, was taken in Tikrit, and depicts U.S. soldiers conducting one of their ubiquitous raids. If this shot came out of the file, however, what instinct compelled the editors to chose it and run it on the eve of the voting?

The caption only adds to the curiosity. Rather than any mention of the supposedly momentous event the next day, it refers to the upcoming trial of Saddam Hussein.

The symbolism is so straight forward, you have to almost lean back to avoid being trampled by it. Clearly, the Bush-driven military has created a giant footprint in Anbar, as it has in Iraq overall. The firmly planted suggestion here is that, no matter the cost in political logic, American casualities, and the profound human suffering and dislocation of Iraqi civilians whose hearts and minds have been long lost, American punishment will just keep coming, one set of boots after another. (Of course, the image also warns that those acting on our behalf do so largely out of sight.)

The American media may be completely oblivious to its own country's military maneuvers and methods, but the photographs can hardly contain themselves with the size of the clues.

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(image: Jewel Samad/AFP/File. Tikrit, Iraq. photo date unspecified. Published October 14, 2005. Via YahooNews.)