12/19/2005 06:40 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Reading The Pictures: Table Talk In Cheney's Iraq


More than four years into the so-called "Global War on (Islamic?) Terrorism," this photo illustration on the cover of Sunday's Chicago Sun-Times points out a reportedly "desperate" and ongoing weakness.

In light of the communication gap, one might specifically ask how Uncle Sam's inability to "speak other people's language" continues to impede the abominably-executed Iraq campaign and contributes to East-West resentment overall.

cheney-iraq-lunch-400.jpg (click here for larger version)

To elaborate, consider this simple image from the front page of today's NY Times. The caption reads:

Vice President Cheney dined with American and Iraqi soldiers yesterday in a visit to Iraq.

On quick glance, the picture might complement the description. Reading more closely, however, the image actually contradicts the suggestion of U.S.-Iraqi "togetherness."

I don't know about Muslim traditions regarding dining and guests. However, you would hope Cheney is not insulting anyone by getting to his chow before the Iraqi soldier beside him gets his silverware open. On the other hand, The fact that Cheney and the Iraqi are actually sitting at different tables seems telling. With Cheney in the mood to chat, his engagement with the American across from him suggests that language and culture keeps the Veep and the Iraqi far apart. (Given the nature of the Administration, one might also consider that the Iraqi is just a prop. Judging by uniforms, insignias and appearance, it's not clear there is another Iraqi soldier in the whole room.)


Lastly, we might take a quick look at the unexpanded version of the photo that the NYT ran on-line (with the same caption, no less). Considering the picture in this form, you might wonder why there is any need to speak Arabic at all.

For more of the visual, visit

(12/21/05: Revised for overpresumption)

(image 1: Flagg/photo illustration. Chicago Sun-Times. December 18, 2005. image 2: Lawrence Jackson/Pool. December 19, 2005. Al Asad Air Base, Iraq.