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November 15, 2004 3:06 PM   Subscribe

Fallujah in pictures. Graphic images of destruction and loss.
posted by four panels (64 comments total)

 
Thanks, FP,
There was a risk I'd've NOT thought about the situation on the ground there.
posted by Busithoth at 3:17 PM on November 15, 2004


I don't know what just made me feel worse, the gut-wrenching pictures, or the horrible right v. left hatred spewing in the comments section. All of it, just sad.
posted by psmealey at 3:21 PM on November 15, 2004


yeah those comments are awful, but I'm glad someone is collecting pictures and putting them up. This is what the internet does best.
posted by cell divide at 3:30 PM on November 15, 2004


This is what the internet does best.

Yup, it routes right around censorship.
posted by wah at 3:47 PM on November 15, 2004


I was OK until I got to the leis, then I lost it completely, for every precious soul on that page.

Do yourself a favor, don't even bother with the comments.
posted by adamgreenfield at 4:06 PM on November 15, 2004


I have the absolute confidence that our paid-for by our taxes freedom bringer are showing all the necessary restrain in the dealing of the Fallujah matter. Absolute.
posted by NewBornHippy at 4:20 PM on November 15, 2004


1) Why didn't every last soul amscray out of that city?

2) Weirdly, I seem to have become almost completely desensitized to these kind of images over the last few weeks. This was very much not the case until recently.

2) Having said that, it boggles the mind to imagine what it would feel like for me if these were pictures of downtown Indianapolis, Baltimore, Philadelphia, etc.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 4:23 PM on November 15, 2004


I seem to have become almost completely desensitized to these kind of images over the last few weeks.

Good, because I've go the funny feeling that it'll get worse before it gets better, if ever.
posted by NewBornHippy at 4:27 PM on November 15, 2004


Why didn't every last soul amscray out of that city?

I've read that many did, but later went back. They didn't know when the attack was going to begin (the city has been surrounded for weeks) and they didn't have any means to survive away from home. So they went home, and the attack began.
posted by homunculus at 4:32 PM on November 15, 2004


Reality check for those who think:

1. The US media is the best/free in the world.

2. Smart bombs are smart

3. Iraq wasnt a war built on lies for oil

4. Voting Republican is a good idea
posted by skallas at 4:33 PM on November 15, 2004


1) Why didn't every last soul amscray out of that city?

Because it was their home? In one account on the radio, an embed describes a Marine unit capturing and questioning three men found in three different houses on the same street; they'd taken their families out, then come back to protect the homes from looters.

2) Weirdly, I seem to have become almost completely desensitized to these kind of images over the last few weeks....

I have a number of friends here in town who are 5-10 years older than me -- old enough to remember stuff like this on the nightly news from Vietnam.

Indianapolis...Baltimore...Philadelphia....NY. After 9/11, when lots of people thought there would be more attacks, I opined that the way to really have an impact would be to bring the fight into middle America. That it hasn't happened is interesting; they don't seem to have even tried. If you think it through, though, and if you look to the operational details revealed in the 9/11 Commission's report, that's harder than it sounds. They stay, instead, where their logistics and their support systems are strong: Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, and now Iraq. and they make sure that we have to come to them, extending our supply lines and jeopardizing the local population, thus building more hostility toward us. It's as though they'd read Sun Tzu. And as though our Vulcan overlords hadn't.
posted by lodurr at 4:35 PM on November 15, 2004


it boggles the mind to imagine what it would feel like for me if these were pictures of downtown Indianapolis, Baltimore, Philadelphia, etc.

Brace yourself.
posted by homunculus at 4:41 PM on November 15, 2004


Brace yourself.

What brought on this article? Are Bush's numbers slipping again?
posted by keswick at 4:50 PM on November 15, 2004


It's the idea of a watching a foreign army moving through those streets of Baltimore as much as the carnage that I'm imagining here. It's so . . . personal. Plus, it's not much of a stretch to imagine dead young men in the streets; pretty common in Baltimore and Philly, actually. (On an unrelated note, I think it's quite difficult for people who haven't lived in cities with daily violent death counts to know how the local news can affect you; in fact, it's very much like war reporting--but you're watching for your block to show up.)

Of course a 'catastrophic casuality event'--terrorist-caused or otherwise--is in a category of its own.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 4:54 PM on November 15, 2004


This is very upsetting. It makes me think of this poem.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 5:15 PM on November 15, 2004


_sirmissalot_, the people who were too poor, ill, or injured to leave town were kind of trapped in Fallujah. Think about what would happen if your city had to be evacuated; where would, say, a seventy-year-old living below the poverty line with no surviving family members go? And how would he or she get there?
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:20 PM on November 15, 2004


I look at these, and I feel wretched, both for the young marines (19 years old - Jesus Christ) and the people of Fallujah, and I realize many of the men were trying to kill our soldiers, but I still hate the whole enterprise, and then I get to the children...

And I want to say "Jesus Christ" over and over while I feel sick to stomach and think of my little 8-month old daughter curled up in her crib in the next room, but I realize (and I hope for her sake I'm wrong) that if Jesus or God or whomever exists, they likely turned away from us in disgust long, long ago.
posted by jalexei at 5:54 PM on November 15, 2004


Here is a photo that has been much discussed by Dan Rather and other media outlets. Politics aside, just looking at his eyes, think about what that man has seen and done over this last week.
posted by graventy at 6:26 PM on November 15, 2004


I could barely get ten pictures in. So I sat and thought awhile. And what this makes me think of is September. I remember after the attacks--the shock and depression and overwhelming sadness: how awful it all felt (and the only person I lost was some dumb boy who dumped me because I wouldn't partake of some private topiary). Then came all the calls for revenge, etc., and all I could think was this feels so bad, why would I want anyone else to feel that way.
posted by dame at 6:37 PM on November 15, 2004


Amen, dame. On September 12, 2001, I felt exactly the same way.

I still do.
posted by psmealey at 7:02 PM on November 15, 2004


"U.S. Marine shot and killed a wounded and apparently unarmed Iraqi prisoner in a mosque..."


The latest shit to hit the fan.
posted by jaronson at 7:14 PM on November 15, 2004


jaroson: apparently your link is either wrong or has been pulled or moved

You’ve requested an abcnews.com page that does not exist.
posted by elpapacito at 7:29 PM on November 15, 2004


My mistake. Thanks, elpapacito.
posted by jaronson at 7:36 PM on November 15, 2004


My video stream in the background moved from "This Fire is Out of Control" to "Peace Now" to "Nobody Gets Out Alive".

jaroson's link, corrected: Marine kills wounded Iraqi. Guess where.

Reported by Kevin Sites, who is embedded in Fallujah.
posted by dhartung at 7:39 PM on November 15, 2004


Why didn't every last soul amscray out of that city?

Because if you were a male 15-45 you're choice was stay or be arrested. Since Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and this has made a few Iraqis doubt the wisdom of voluntarily surrendering to US custody, I guess some of them have decided to risk staying. If it was me, I'd have gotten my wife and son out of there as quickly as possible, and tried to find a deep hole to hide in. But I don't blame people who don't want to split up a family during wartime - you may never see your loved ones again.
posted by bashos_frog at 7:49 PM on November 15, 2004


Why didn't every last soul amscray out of that city?

Because if you were a male 15-45 your choice was stay or be arrested. Since Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and this has made a few Iraqis doubt the wisdom of voluntarily surrendering to US custody, I guess some of them have decided to risk staying. If it was me, I'd have gotten my wife and son out of there as quickly as possible, and tried to find a deep hole to hide in. But I don't blame people who don't want to split up a family during wartime - you may never see your loved ones again.
posted by bashos_frog at 7:49 PM on November 15, 2004


apologies, was trying to correct. Damn that button was fast.
posted by bashos_frog at 7:51 PM on November 15, 2004


Amscray to where? It's 30+ Celcius, there's a wicked lack of potable water, food is damn scarce, and it's not like the countryside is particularly hospitable to a bunch of city-dwellers.

Fallujah was a city of 300 000 inhabitants. That puts it on par with Wichita or St. Louis. And like any city that size, it was filled with people who work in offices, stores, schools, and the like. Not exactly people who are prepared to rough it in the wild.

And, too, what the hell are the people who did leave going to do when they get back? The city infrastructure is destroyed. Houses are being blown up, looted, or otherwise rendered unusable. There won't be any water. There won't be much food, and what there is will be unaffordable. There won't be any electricity.

Imagine, if you dare, Missouri being invaded, such that the roadways are controlled by a foreign military. St. Louis has been without reliable electricity for months, food supplies are poor at best, the water supply is fubared, and electrical service is more or less random. The invaders, who have a reputation for shooting vehicles (not that you've any gas for your car) have told everyone to clear out of the city. Oh, and don't forget there local gangs have joined forces for the time being to fight against the invaders and aren't at all shy about looting you if you leave your house.

What the hell are you going to do?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:52 PM on November 15, 2004


Die.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:53 PM on November 15, 2004


Turtles, thank you truly for remembering that poem.
posted by melissa may at 10:21 PM on November 15, 2004


I'd like to echo all the sorrow-filled sentiments expressed above, and also express my dismay over the god awful 'watermarks' splashed all over the images. Especially with something of that nature, it just seems so tawdry to splash it all over the image.
posted by The God Complex at 11:11 PM on November 15, 2004


Regarding God Complex's comment about the watermarks:

Those watermarks are not on the photos generally. They're only there on the crummy web quality ones that they don't want you stealing, because they are owned by Getty Images. They watermark images on their website because of IP concerns, but if you were to request that photo for use in something, it wouldn't have the watermark.

On one hand, I totally see your point, but the watermarks are just there on the images on getty's website for their own protection, and it's probably done automatically by a computer program without much thought by anyone.

For reference, go to gettyimages.com and go to view some of their pictures -- once you click to get the biggest one they'll let you download for free, you'll see the watermark.
posted by twiggy at 11:43 PM on November 15, 2004


It's interesting to note the lack of commentary of Postroad, et al...
posted by tomcosgrave at 3:08 AM on November 16, 2004


Americans, look at those pictures and realize that a majority of the people in your country who bothered to vote, voted for a government that will continue to pursue a policy of violence and aggression that will result in far more deaths and horrific mutilations.

You claim to be fighting for freedom, but when you take someone life, you take their freedom from them irrevocably.

A when there are no more "foreign" enemies to shore up government support, who next do you think will become the enemy? The peoples of your nation. You may lose your freedoms a little at a time. A little here, a little there, and just like boiling a frog, eventually your loss of freedom will be complete.
posted by Meridian at 3:41 AM on November 16, 2004


It's interesting to note the lack of commentary of Postroad, et al...

OK, I'll do the dirty work for them:

"9-11! Nevah forget!"

"We're making progress in Iraq"

"Sour grapes! You lost the election! Suck on this!"


after all, the new rule is, "if the US does it it is not a war crime".
posted by matteo at 4:16 AM on November 16, 2004


FYI, fff, St. Louis is funny as far as population goes - sure, the official number is 300k, but that's only the city core. Imagine if the population of NYC were only downtown Manhattan. The metro area, which due to sprawl includes not only St. Louis City and County but also half of two other counties (not including Illinois) is more along the lines of 2.6 million.
posted by notsnot at 5:22 AM on November 16, 2004


From these pictures and the scenes they portray – the fact that there have been insurgency, coalition and civilian casualties (including those of women and children) during the Fallujah offence and/or the fact that said pictures are not widely or at all available from mainstream US media outlets; none of the following conclusions follow:

1. The US media is not a free and/or unbiased media.
2. The use of smart bombs will not result in substantially less or even any fewer civilian casualties than achieving the same ends by using their counterpart, unguided weapons.
3. The Iraq war was entered into under false motives in the interests of forcibly obtaining further oil resources.
4. Voting Republican is not a good idea

While I’m fairly sure that there are valid reasons to believe that at least three of these assertions are true – these pictures certainly are not those reasons.
posted by ed\26h at 6:56 AM on November 16, 2004


Meridian: You're not helping, so cram it. Those of us who agree with you (i.e, myself) already have the message, and are suffering plenty over the whole mess, thank you very much. Those who support this administration are only going to take your comments as fuel for their pathological xenophobia.

I wish people would stop generalizing about "Americans". There are something like 300 million of us, and fewer than 60 million voted for Bush. What more do I have to do to divest myself of this rotten administration? Would it be more moral of me to emigrate, rather than staying here and doing what I can to change things?
posted by Fenriss at 8:03 AM on November 16, 2004


Meridian, the old saw about the "frog not noticing that the water is getting hotter" has been debunked.

And it must be wonderful to live in Japan, a nation that certainly doesn't have any history of entering into unjust wars or military atrocities.

ed\26h, the conclusion I draw from the footage of the Marine shooting the injured man in the head in a mosque is this--this war is so completely fucked up and unwinnable that it is leaching the humanity out of our young servicepeople. And I have a strong, strong sense of deja vu from my childhood. IraqNam.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:10 AM on November 16, 2004


Well, it doesn’t seem that either of those conclusions follow from what we can know from the footage you mention either – but anyway I wasn’t referring to that footage or those conclusions in my previous post.
posted by ed\26h at 8:39 AM on November 16, 2004


Having just seen said footage of a soldier shooting an injured man in the head (in a mosque) on the Danish national news, I think Sidhedevils conclusion can be true. The soldiers words before shooting: He's faking dead, this one is breathing, he's faking dead (or words to that effect) Then *blamblam*.

It's pretty disturbing viewing for a regular newscast. Did they show that footage on your newschannel as well?
posted by dabitch at 9:24 AM on November 16, 2004



Did they show that footage on your newschannel as well?


Of course not -- are you kidding? The last thing you want is to have the American public informed. Showing what really happens in Iraq would be treason.

(Note that I'm just talking over my head -- haven't watched the "news" last night, but I'm sorry to safely speculate that it hasn't been shown.)
posted by NewBornHippy at 9:46 AM on November 16, 2004


On CNN they showed footage of the incident up to the point of the shooting, then there was a freeze frame followed by a narration of what happened next.
posted by Devils Slide at 10:18 AM on November 16, 2004


On Swedish news they blacked out the moment/seconds of the shooting but let the sound run, then returned the image rolling after the shots had been fired.
posted by dabitch at 10:36 AM on November 16, 2004


Since I'm on the border I get two countries national channels and often watch both Danish and Swedish news
posted by dabitch at 10:37 AM on November 16, 2004


They showed all but the last two or three seconds on CBS Evening News; they omitted the actual bullet-strike by freezing the picture, but they left the audio on.

More striking for me, were images of soldiers walking past bodies in the street. Bodies that had decayed and bloated suffiently that they appeared to be oozing streams of liquid in the heat...
posted by lodurr at 10:52 AM on November 16, 2004


One of the reasons that all civilians didn't leave, might be that American soldiers shot at them while they were trying to flee the city, according to an eyewitness AP photographer:
"I decided to swim ... but I changed my mind after seeing U.S. helicopters firing on and killing people who tried to cross the river."

He watched horrified as a family of five was shot dead as they tried to cross. Then, he "helped bury a man by the river bank, with my own hands."

"I kept walking along the river for two hours and I could still see some U.S. snipers ready to shoot anyone who might swim. I quit the idea of crossing the river and walked for about five hours through orchards."
posted by talos at 11:04 AM on November 16, 2004


I wonder about how Kevin's relationship with his marine unit is now?
posted by srboisvert at 3:15 PM on November 16, 2004


I've been wondering about that too. There's got to be some resentment.
posted by homunculus at 4:52 PM on November 16, 2004


I read that up to 5,000 civilians may have been killed in Fallujah, with the low number in the 800 range.

It's funny, because most of the crimes that Saddam is accused of happen to do with brutally putting down revolts....

And while I do believe there IS a difference between putting down revolts in service of the greater good, and putting them down in order to keep you and your family rich, powerful, and in control, I can't help but notice the similarities between any brutal supressions.
posted by cell divide at 5:25 PM on November 16, 2004


....the similarities being keeping the family rich powerful and in control?
posted by dabitch at 5:34 PM on November 16, 2004


.
posted by dejah420 at 6:36 PM on November 16, 2004


[good use of the ".", dejah.]
posted by lodurr at 5:51 AM on November 17, 2004


Of the mosque shooting incident, "They're Called Security Rounds" is a minority opinion by a guy who sounds like he's Been There And Done That. Who knows...plenty of folks think that Marine ought to be keelhauled for what he did, but Frog definitely got me thinking about the situation from the Marine's perspective. Combat can force you to make some terrible choices.
posted by alumshubby at 7:58 AM on November 17, 2004


What about the Geneva Conventions and all that Law of Land Warfare stuff? What about it.

Good answer! A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, and anybody who objects is a fucking pussy who's never been in combat. Shoot those old men and little kids! Better an entire dead civilian village than the slightest chance of one dead Marine -- because Marines are more important than gooks hajis! I don't know why that's so hard to see.

I waded through this macho bullshit during Vietnam; I don't need any more, thanks.
posted by languagehat at 8:15 AM on November 17, 2004


A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do

I don't get the name-calling. Is it being a fucking pussy to wonder what had been going on in that Marine's world the last five minutes before the videotaped incident? Is it macho bullshit that the Marine might not to want to risk getting blown up by somebody who might be faking and/or booby-trapped? (Wouldn't be the first time a trick like this got used -- my dad told me about how the Germans would booby-trap some of their own and American GI dead during the Bulge.) Maybe the Marine deserves to get nailed to the wall for what he did. But maybe --maybe -- he had some justification for his action in its context. I can't tell yet and, unless you've got more information than I do, you probably can't either.

I wasn't there and you weren't either. You mention Vietnam. Were you there? Did you participate in a similar scenario? Do you even accept the possibility that the Marine was trying to make sure he didn't get blown away as soon as he turned his attention from the guys lying there?

If I were that Marine, I'd definitely consider myself more important than any "haji" simply from the standpoint of self-preservation. It's horrible to think that that might equate to putting "security rounds" into people who might just be innocent and in the wrong place at the wrong time. Like I said...terrible choices. (Old men have nightmares about things they had to do when they were young men on Iwo Jima or in the Ardennes, but if they hadn't done them, they wouldn't have lived to get old.)

This war shouldn't have happened, and sure as hell, lots of innocent people are getting killed for reasons that sound like total chickenshit. Maybe Frog's wrong and you're right. But without enough information about the incident in question, I'm not going to be as quick as you are to start flinging poop.
posted by alumshubby at 9:20 AM on November 17, 2004


A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, and anybody who objects is a fucking pussy who's never been in combat. Shoot those old men and little kids!

Has anyone actually made this argument?
posted by ed\26h at 1:58 AM on November 18, 2004


Not on this thread, ed\26h, but I did hear someone saying something very similar on a phone call to a radio show last night.

However, I heard several Vietnam veterans calling to another radio show saying more or less the same thing (which I paraphrase)--"We can't judge that Marine's actions out of context, because he was a terrified young man who had been wounded just the day before, and who had lost several members of his unit to sniper fire in the past few days. As a combat veteran, I remember that place of absolute fear and determination you get to when the only thing that matters is that you and your unit survive the day. "

One Vietnam veteran said that his heart broke to see that footage, because he believed that that Marine would carry the guilt from that split-second decision for the rest of his life, but he understood exactly how the young man had come to the place of making that kind of desperate decision.

Either you draw the conclusion that a) that Marine was a stone killer and psychopath, or b) that that Marine was a young man in way over his head being asked to do an impossible task. I prefer b), and although I think it's appropriate that he be held accountable by the military for his actions, I think it's more important that society hold accountable the people who put him in that situation. Out of IraqNam now.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:00 AM on November 18, 2004


alumshubby: I think you may have misinterpreted my comment. I was not calling anyone a fucking pussy, I was summarizing (but not, I think, distorting) the thrust of Frog's discussion, and by extension similar arguments made by tough guys since the beginning of time: if you haven't been there, you don't know what it's about, so shut up and let the real men handle it. I agree with Sidhedevil that the people who put the grunts there are the ultimate criminals, and that "that Marine was a young man in way over his head being asked to do an impossible task." But that does not absolve the Marine (and all the others who have been committing war crimes, largely without documentation) from responsibility. I was a conscientious objector during Vietnam, and one reason is that I understood very clearly that the purpose of the military (in its instructional/managerial capacity) was to turn me into a killing machine, someone who would unhesitatingly shoot anyone defined by my superiors as "enemy" (old folks, pregnant women, children, anyone could be carrying deadly weapons, a cute little kid just like that one over there tossed a Molotov cocktail into a jeep last week and killed two GIs, better safe than sorry). Arguments just like Frog's have been used by soldiers in every army that's been involved in messy interactions with hostile civilians, including some that I won't name here for fear of being accused of the Sin of Godwin. But use your imagination; I'm sure you can find empathy for all such soldiers, but perhaps the exercise will draw the line of responsibility a bit more clearly. Going of your own free will into an institution where you may be forced by the logic of the situation you're sent into to do terrible things is a life decision like any other, like deciding to climb mountains or get married or take that first hit of hard drugs. Some outcomes are unpredictable, but some are clear as day, and you accept responsibility for them from the start.

And the whole manly ethos of violence as a tool and combat as a test is responsible for a great deal of the mess the world's in, and I reject it root and branch, no matter how much great writing it's inspired. I love that Joanna Russ story where a twentieth-century man wakes up in a peaceful future and complains that it's dull, he needs to face danger to prove himself. They shake their heads but decide to accommodate him, so they inject him with a disease he has a 50-50 chance of surviving. Take that, Sgt. Rock!
posted by languagehat at 2:03 PM on November 18, 2004


A relevant NY Times op-ed piece by Errol Morris; he cites an analogy that had occurred to me as well:
John Keegan, in "The Face of Battle,'' writes about the Battle of Agincourt. Henry V has invaded France out of political ambition. He would like to be more than just king of England. (Shakespeare gives Henry the line: "The signs of war advance, no king of England if not king of France.") At a point of crisis in the battle, Henry orders the killing of his French prisoners. There are too many of them. And if the tide should turn against the English, the French prisoners represent an unacceptable threat. Mr. Keegan writes about Henry's decision: "Comprehensible in harsh tactical logic; in ethical, practical and human terms, much more difficult to understand."
Some commenters here are all about the harsh tactical logic; some are concerned about the ethical, practical and human terms.
posted by languagehat at 2:54 PM on November 20, 2004


If we don't have ethical, practical, human terms, we have nothing.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:27 PM on November 20, 2004




The Sites link was great homunculus, thanks.
posted by dejah420 at 9:47 PM on November 22, 2004


Damn. Thanks for the closing Homunculus.
posted by Dick Paris at 3:05 AM on November 23, 2004


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