Too Much Reality Appalls Robert Gates

The decision of the Associated Press to run a photograph of a dying U.S. Marine drew fire from Defense Secretary Robert Gates. In a letter he released publicly, Gates called the AP decision “appalling. The issue here is not law, policy or constitutional right – but judgment and common decency.” The AP said it decided to make the image public because it “conveys the griminess of war and the sacrifice of young men and women fighting it.”

Gates is more upset about the image of a dying Marine gaining currency than he is about the multiple wars in which the U.S. is currently engaged. The Bush regime especially has been adept at controlling and sanitizing the images of war, prohibiting photos of flag-draped caskets or military burial services. As if war were a distant abstraction, without bloody, fatal consequences.

What is “appalling” of course, and beyond any rational “judgment and common decency” are the wars themselves, in Iraq – built on lies – and in Afghanistan – purportedly in revenge against a Saudi guerrilla there. Neither conflict can be justified or withstand scrutiny – moral or political – but that does not bother Robert Gates. His brief is to run the wars, test the weapons, keep the military in fighting trim and try to minimize the psychic damage to the American soul. That was why he protested the photo. Psychic damage.

What we need is many more photos, of dead and wounded U.S. fighting men and women. But also of Iraqi and Afghani civilians. Why does AP not show us the torn and bloody children of our “muscular foreign policy”? The American people are not nearly appalled enough by the wanton destruction committed in our name. There is no strategy worth this carnage. Control of petro resources cannot justify this ongoing murder.

AP needs to fill the pages of its clients’ publications with the wages of our sins of aggression. Some Americans will not be affected, but the majority might be angry enough to speak up at last against these obscene “appalling” exercises in futility. The consequences are real, to bodies and minds, of soldiers and civilians. So we deserve to see those consequences for ourselves, to understand the policies rational planners like Gates and now his cohorts in the Obama regime have accomplished, flying in the face of “law… or constitutional right.” Not to mention common decency.

James is the author of Shooting the Truth: the Rise of American Documentaries (Praeger 2006), and Acting Like It Matters: John Malpede and the Los Angeles Poverty Department, (2015). He lives in Quito, Ecuador. Read other articles by James.

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  1. Mulga Mumblebrain said on September 6th, 2009 at 9:52pm #

    Of course, if you know where to go you can find all the ‘death porn’, collected by ghoulish US troops armed with digital cameras, that your twisted little psyche could ever desire. The Quakers, I believe, first stumbled on this amazongly depraved trade early on during the carnage in Iraq. I find the overwhelming evidence that the US, led by Israel, and itself leading the West, is a force for pure, unrestrained, evil, more and more compelling by the day. I need only watch Fox/News for a few minutes, or read our print version of the same, ‘The Australian’,and I get the distinct feeling that I have been in touch with spiritual evil. The latest manifestation is today’s morally sordid attempt to extort more money out of Libya, for ‘the victims of IRA terror’. This is presented, particularly on the BBC, with that insufferable air of absolutely unmerited moral superiority the hacks and toadies of UK state propaganda are so talented at projecting.
    Need I say that there is no mention of the victims of Unionist terror, many slaughtered with the active connivance of UK intelligence. Nor, of course, is there talk of any compensation from the UK to the Libyan victims of the evil Reagan’s attempt at assassinating Gaddafi, that killed over 100 Libyans, and with which the evil Alzheimic Thatcher, was so intimately involved. May she choke on her own drool! Nor is there any demand for proper compensation for the victims in the Iranian airbus, deliberately shot down by the USS Vincennes in the Gulf, or the Libyans aboard the Libyan airliner deliberately shot down over Sinai by Israel in early 1973. These (you could throw in the unknown number killed, but in the thousands, in Panama City, all total innocents, in the operation to ‘arrest’ the rogue CIA ‘asset’ Noriega), are all untermenschen, unpersons, ‘two-legged animals’ if you prefer Zionist parlance, so we forget them, quick smart. Indeed I can just imagine the incomprehension followed by outrage that would greet such demands for compensation if aired on the BBC, CNN or the ‘Bedlam’ that is the FoxNews asylum.