“Anniversary” hardly seems like the right word, but that’s what is being used to mark five years of war in Iraq. The New York Times is devoting a lot of print and digital coverage to the start of the sixth year of the war. Their interactive time line is particularly depressing, not least because the Times still isn’t admitting to its complicity in the rush to war. For example, the photo selection suggests that Saddam was a casus belli and that the toppling of his statue was a popular uprising rather than a media event staged by the military in concert with our puppet du jour and international pariah Ahmed Chalabi. Even so, the truth gets through. Like this:
I can barely stand it. Death–stupid, senseless death–is right there in front of us. And mess–the unholy mess of war and especially of this miserable, unnecessary, pathetic war. The whole scene is an allegory: the room obviously is not equipped for the emergency that has developed; the mutilated body (politic) has been bombed and then abandoned, leaving only horror and waste and indignity.
The photograph accompanies notes from the field by the photographer, Max Becherer. The caption reads, “A hospital worker in Kirkuk cleaned up after doctors tried, and failed, to save Mahmood al-Obaidei, a car-bomb victim, in 2005.” What hospital worker? I hardly noticed the orderly, who could as well be a department store mannequin. If you look closely you can see that he is alive but hardly a model of can-do professionalism. Nor can you blame him, as he too is dispirited, pushing a piece of the carnage with his foot like a kid with a mashed toad, not able to leave and not knowing what to do now that nothing really matters any more.
Becherer reports that minutes before the staff had been working furiously to save the bombing victim, who was responding to a defibrillator, only to have the power go out. Mahmood al-Obaidei, Kirkuk, death due to roadside bomb and power failure. The same could be said of the occupation.
Photograph by Max Becherer/Polaris for the New York Times.