03/20/2006 12:29 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Reading the Pictures: Monsters? Or Just a Bunch of Chinooks?


I've been mesmerized by this shot for three days now.  I think I first saw it Friday, as part of the coverage of Operation Swarmer.  It took me some time, however, to figure out the lure.  But, then it hit me:

We're aliens!

Maybe the military and the White House haven't gotten it yet, but we are suddenly absent a coherent story line for being in Iraq.  There are two equally plausible narratives for our presence.  One is to put down the (mostly Sunni) insurgency.  The other is to blunt a civil war.  The problem is, if you plant yourself too far in either argument now, you get people very pissed off at you the other way.  So, at the same time representatives from extremely edgy parties, factions and tribes are in Baghdad trying, in the most tenuous fashion, to stitch together something reminiscent of a  government, these dark, creature-like flying machines are busy dropping from the sky, disgorging Iraqi troops all over the countryside.

But, with what real story line?


Maybe we're just a renegade neocon life form sticking its neck out now.  We're angry -- and trapped.  We've got massive firepower. 

We're aliens.

For more of the visual, visit

(image 1: U.S. Navy/mate 3rd class Shawn Hussong/Reuters.  Near the town of Samarra.  March 16, 2006.  Via YahooNews. photo montage: model via