11/28/2005 11:38 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Reading The Pictures: About Face


If George Bush is renown for anything, it's impulsiveness.

Eight weeks ago, George Bush declared that withdrawing troops from Iraq "would allow the terrorists to claim an historic victory over the United States." Eight days ago, Bush said setting a deadline for withdrawal from Iraq would be "a recipe for disaster." The same day, Dick Cheney rejected any troop withdrawal. Four days later, however, the word out of the Pentagon was that plans for sizable troop reductions were in the offing. In the NYT story (U.S. Considers Troop Cuts After Iraq Holds Elections - link), Condi Rice herself said that " I suspect that American forces are not going to be needed in the numbers that they are for that much longer."

When you get shifts like this, the visual media is always quick to respond. Consider the caption to this image circulated just yesterday by AFP:

A US officer take pictures of the last remaining three statues of ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein located inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.... The White House for the first time has claimed ownership of an Iraq withdrawal plan, arguing that a troop pullout blueprint unveiled this past week by a Democratic senator was 'remarkably similar' to its own.

In the new atmosphere, it's not just the three statues that represent held-over relics -- the matching-colored U.S. soldier could fit the description as well. One day you're stuck in endless rotations in a campaign with no clear plan or definition. Next day, you're capturing a visual memento to recall how large an obsession one man can possibly become in a government's mind.

For more of the visual, visit

(image: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP. 27 November 2005. Baghdad/Green Zone. Via Yahoo News)