Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Bells

Joe Rosenthal didn't know what was in his camera the day he snapped the flag-raising at Iwo Jima. There are times when a single picture captures the essence of an entire campaign. Maybe Michael Yon's picture from Baghdad has done it for the Surge. (Hat tip: Instapundit)


Yon writes:

"I photographed men and women, both Christians and Muslims, placing a cross atop the St. John's Church in Baghdad. They had taken the cross from storage and a man washed it before carrying it up to the dome. A Muslim man had invited the American soldiers from 'Chosen' Company 2-12 Cavalry to the church, where I videotaped as Muslims and Christians worked and rejoiced at the reopening of St John's, an occasion all viewed as a sign of hope. The Iraqis asked me to convey a message of thanks to the American people. 'Thank you, thank you,' the people were saying. One man said, 'Thank you for peace.' Another man, a Muslim, said 'All the people, all the people in Iraq, Muslim and Christian, is brother.' The men and women were holding bells, and for the first time in memory freedom rang over the ravaged land between two rivers. (Videotape to follow.)"

Photo on the right by Michael Yon


It is strange that in history every true victory is about the same thing -- not territorial expansion or power -- but the affirmation of the essential equality and brotherhood of man. 

"All the people, all the people in Iraq, Muslim and Christian, is brother."

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

"It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

All just wars are about the restoration of peace. But it's important to remember that the flag raising on Suribachi occurred on the fourth day of a campaign that would last a month longer. In the War against extremism, as in Iwo Jima, the worst may be yet to come. But it's good to take a deep breath and remember what the journey is all about.

32 Comments:

Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Thank you for posting this, Wretchard.

Sometimes it's hard to keep smilin' while ducking all the tossed cow patties.

I want to say something profound, but ascii characters cannot express the tumult of passion and hope that such images and expressions provoke in my heart.

11/07/2007 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger Patm said...

what a wonderful picture and you're right a historic moment. How does one get Drudge to take his focus off of his Hillary and weather fixations and post this picture up on his site? If he did it just once, it might change the whole momentum of the press.

11/07/2007 03:45:00 PM  
Blogger Smitten Eagle said...

As a side note, and because of the mention of Joe Rosenthal's image of the Marines and the Sailor on Mount Suribachi, I want to make mention that the birthday of my Corps of Marines is 10 November. The US Marines will celebrate their 232nd Birthday.

So, if you know a Marine, tell him Happy Birthday. You will touch his or her heart.

Semper Fidelis,
S.E.

11/07/2007 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger DWPittelli said...

This cross-raising scene was potentially as moving an image as Flag Raising Over Iwo Jima. However, to achieve its potential, the camera would have had to be moved up and to the right, probably on a boom crane, so that the human figures would fill more of the frame, and that something of or on the horizon would be visible. And the horizon would have to be beautiful, ideally with clouds as in Iwo Jima, or some ancient backdrop.

All that achieved from an artistic standpoint, the image would be iconic, albeit probably ignored by most of the press.

11/07/2007 05:31:00 PM  
Blogger F said...

W:

Your words regarding this image are as moving as the image. Thank you. F

11/07/2007 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

"All the people, all the people in Iraq, Muslim and Christian, is brother."

I wonder if we'll ever reach the point where a quote out of the Middle East will include "Muslim and Christian and Jewish".

11/07/2007 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Didn't they go back and re-stage the Iwo Jima picture so it showed up better? Retook it at a later date?

I think Yon's version is just fine the way it is.

11/07/2007 07:08:00 PM  
Blogger deepinjuncountry said...

The image is simply not powerful enough. Alone it does not speak. Rosenthal's image needs no caption. However, your juxtaposition of Yon's copy with Lincoln's address is extremely moving for those of us who believe in sacrifice. De oppresso liber.

11/07/2007 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Nahncee, the original flag was a small flag and was ordered to be changed to one that could be seen further. The first cameraman didn't go back up if I remember correctly and the civilian got the shot but it wasn't staged, it was the real raising of the second flag.

11/07/2007 07:30:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Smitten Eagle, Ooh Rah!

11/07/2007 07:32:00 PM  
Blogger dobson said...

Two trillion dollars buys this... but What exactly is it?

A symbolic gesture? A feel-good moment? A prize for photography? or a sentimental tear-drop?

The normally excellent Instapundit has missed the obvious fact that Churches and Christianity has never actually been illegal in Iraq unlike nearby Iran and our allied nation Saudi-Arabia.

This photo would really be remarkable if it had been taken in Saudi-Arabia, but given that this is allegedly in Iraq, it's not all that important at all.

Didn't they go back and re-stage the Iwo Jima picture so it showed up better? Retook it at a later date?

Yep, the famous flag was the 2nd flag to be raised, however the intent was never to fake history. It was just that the first flag was too small to be seen from the whole of the island.

Naturally the media ignored the context and got carried away with the emotion, rather like you guys making goo-goo eyes at this vastly inferior photo.

DOBSON

11/08/2007 07:07:00 AM  
Blogger rasqual said...

"Vastly inferior photo" won't be on the mind of AQ leaders who find symbolic frustration in the image of a cross being lifted in a multicultural effort in a land they'd targeted so confidently.

The interesting thing about the comparison between the two images isn't so much whether they resonate symbolically for the allies (so to speak), but rather how AQ sees them, and whether their meaning to AQ might be even more profound than what the Iwo Jima shot might have meant to the Japanese.

11/08/2007 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger dobson said...

The fact is that the churches were never shut-down in Iraq during the Saddam regime. Churches may have closed in Iraq, but not because of Al-Queda.

Al-Queda was never a major player in Iraq, however the Shiite islamist militants (affiliated with Iraqui Arab nationalists rather than the Saudi led, Wahabist Al-Queda) are now confident enough in their control over the territory that they've stopoped bombing with such vigor.

Churches can re-open. So can shops, cinemas, etc. This image is not particularly remarkable unless you choose to interpret it to mean something which it blatantly does not (e.g. the dawning of religious freedom in Iraq).

Now explain to me how this is worth all the billions of dollars we spent on Iraq?

Like I said, you focus on the emotion but you ignored the context. You made this image mean what you wanted it to mean.

Bad you.

11/08/2007 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

dobson, I note that you're going to a great deal of effort to focus on whether or not it's a good picture, and whether or not Christinity was specifically outlawed in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, and chose not to go near the "thank you, America" quote. Recent events in Iraq must hurt like a bitch to an anti-American moonbat such as yourself, I'm betting.

11/08/2007 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger Texas Gal said...

Al-Queda was never a major player in Iraq, however the Shiite islamist militants (affiliated with Iraqui Arab nationalists rather than the Saudi led, Wahabist Al-Queda) are now confident enough in their control over the territory that they've stopoped bombing with such vigor.

Hahahaha!

Glug!

Glug!!

11/08/2007 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger dobson said...

Not really Nancy, and congratulations for being the first to lower the conversation by name-calling.

On reason why I like Belmont Club is that it is a haven for sober, sensible debate and not the kind of fruity-name calling that makes liberal sites such a drag.

I admit to being a recovering ex-liberal. Funny how that happens to many of us as we get older. Values like fiscal responsibility now appeal strongly to me. I just do not like it when I see the same kind of big-government thinking from the Right that I tried to escape from the Left.

It's great that some people appreciate America, however as somebody with a vested interest the long-term economic health of America I hope that I'm getting more value for my tax-dollars than a simple thank-you.

As I am sure I mentioned before, I paid off my mortgage some time ago and while I'm still earning a living, my savings are diversified and a substantial proportion are not in Dollars. That's looking like a good bet.

I'm not a rich man but I've got a good credit-rating because I always paid off my debts. That used to be an American value.

Patriotism is great, but not so great that I should have my savings harmed - our first duty is to look after ourselves and our families.

11/08/2007 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger rasqual said...

Dobson: My point prescinded entirely from whether AQ was a major player or not. I was merely observing that among those having a perspective on the picture, AQ would find it especially grating. And I don't think ignorance about churches under Hussein was, or is, as widespread as your dismissal of legitimate interest in the meaning of this photo -- and your relegation of such interest to the realm of emotion only -- has it.

And of course you're right that Sadrists are confident about the future. It's difficult to know what that portends, and personally I'm not fielding augury from any sources just now.

11/08/2007 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger rich said...

Dobson google this: Baghdad College.

From Wikipedia:

". . . . In 1968, the Baathist coup drastically changed the country's political landscape. Private schools, Muslim and Jesuit alike, were nationalized (as had been done a decade earlier in Syria). Rejecting the pleas of Muslim professors at Baghdad University, the Baathist government - and the first government of Iraq to do so - seized Al-Hikma University and ordered the Al-Hikma Jesuits out of Iraq in November 1968. Ignoring the warnings of the Baathists, hundreds of students gathered at the airport to bid farewell to the Jesuit Fathers, affectionately referred to by the Iraqis as fadheria. The government subsequently took control of Baghdad College on August 24, 1969 and gave the remaining 33 Jesuits three days to leave Iraq. In total, 145 Jesuits worked at Baghdad College. Five are buried next to the school's chapel, land that still belongs to the Society of Jesus. Baghdad College has remained a public institution since the Jesuit expulsion, and has retained its elite status. . . . "

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baghdad_College

11/08/2007 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger dobson said...

Yes, the Jesuits were banned form teaching at this college (and other Universities in Iraq), however Christianity was not banned and Churches were not dissolved. The Baathist ( arab-nationalist ) party even had a few Christians in it's administration.

My point stands - this photo would have been remarkable if it had been a Church in Saudi-Arabia. More so if it had been taken in Iran as these countries have strict prohibitions against religions other than Islam.

As it stands it purports to show a church re-opening in Iraq, however there were already Churches in Iraq until shortly after the chaos that followed the most recent war.

Cinemas and banks also closed and then re-opened but I do not see movie-buffs and bankers getting all teary-eyed over their favorite institutions.

I honestly hope this Church stays open, because the way a society tolerates it's minorities is a good indicator of it's health. Unfortunately I suspect that this building will now become a target for islamists, and the men (who are probably just building-workers) may be targeted for revenge attacks.

11/08/2007 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

The photo illustrates an instance of reconciliation. As you may have recalled, extremists have driven many Christians, as well as Sunnis -- anyone not of their strict persuasion -- into exile or at least into lying quiet. The photo isn't a summary display of the effects of the campaign. However it is one more nail in the coffin of those who predicted or who still predict an eventual victory for al-Qaeda.

The power of the picture is not in itself, but in what it might portend. For those who are cheering for a relatively democratic, multiethnic, pro-American outcome in Iraq it is encouraging. For those who wish the opposite it must be a chilling sight. What they wouldn't do to keep from more such instances breaking out.

11/08/2007 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

What they wouldn't do to keep from more such instances breaking out.

You mean like denigrate its composition, and nit-pick its meaning?

11/08/2007 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

You mean like denigrate its composition, and nit-pick its meaning?

More than that. Reinvent it's meaning, as part of a larger effort at reframing the debate. Andrew Sullivan recently described why he, a Conservative, supports Barack Obama. Why, because Conservatives and Liberals are at each other's throats and only Obama, of the available candidates can bridge the gap.

How has a black, urban liberal gained far stronger support among Republicans than the made-over moderate Clinton or the southern charmer Edwards? Perhaps because the Republicans and independents who are open to an Obama candidacy see his primary advantage in prosecuting the war on Islamist terrorism. It isn’t about his policies as such; it is about his person.

Obama has the 'hands of the King'. He is person is a healing person. What does he offer? First and foremost: his face. Think of it as the most effective potential re-branding of the United States since Reagan.

And Obama will heal the wounds because he is only candidate who can be reliably counted upon to withdraw rapidly from Iraq.

The other obvious advantage that Obama has in facing the world and our enemies is his record on the Iraq War. He is the only major candidate to have clearly opposed it from the start. Whoever is in office in January 2009 will be tasked with redeploying forces in and out of Iraq, negotiating with neighboring states, engaging America’s estranged allies, tamping down regional violence.

Etc. Is it a serious argument? Or is it hogwash? The points seem interesting enough, abstractly considered. But is it really about a transformational candidacy or more of the same?

In politics re-invention is about retention. It's about warming over. Creating red herrings like being a post-boomer. Supporting certain things by opposing them. It is a word game above all. When explanations are offered that are too clever by half, when someone is against you for your benefit; is "happy to see certain developments" but sad to note they come too late one is left to wonder whether it is the 21st century version of the Voice of Saruman, the fictional wizard whose garments seemed to constantly change without ever changing, who ever counseled surrender while seeming to advocate reason.

When in debate there are two kinds of opponents. The one who truly believes his point of view and the one who secretly doesn't care. The first really argues. The second only pretends to. The other night, heading to Canberra, we were listening to a debate over the Vlaams Belang issue in Belgium. And I argued that the key point was not whether you thought Vlaams Belang's argument that they were no longer a Nazi-tainted party was logical but whether you believed Vlaams Belang. Sometimes a debate is about more than words. It's a narrow line, but knowing which side of the divide you are on is essential to deciding whether you are really in a dialogue or simply in a truce between battles.

11/08/2007 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Both Obama and Sullivan are idiots. A man like Ayman al-Zawahari or Ahmadinejad will care that Obama was raised in Indonesia or his Grandmother lives in a mud hut in Kenya?

Absurd. Only a totally clueless, upper class, socially isolated, pampered, spoiled, elitist Liberal would say or believe anything along those lines.

Hard men with guns in the Third World more resemble Cesare Borgia than they do say Maureen Dowd.

Obama appeals to spoiled, clueless upper class people, i.e. Liberals, because his "authenticity" "guarantees" good results, the touch of the king as Wretchard points out. Yet Obama himself is as clueless as they are.

His time in Indonesia should have taught him that the Third World is ruled by the man with the most guns and most hard boys to use them. But he's internalized his pampered upbringing for most of his life as representing the wider world. Truly pathetic.

11/08/2007 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger dobson said...

The photo illustrates an instance of reconciliation. As you may have recalled, extremists have driven many Christians, as well as Sunnis -- anyone not of their strict persuasion -- into exile or at least into lying quiet. The photo isn't a summary display of the effects of the campaign. However it is one more nail in the coffin of those who predicted or who still predict an eventual victory for al-Qaeda.

... as I mentioned before Al-Queda are one of the SMALLEST islamist factions in Iraq. Why worry about Al-Queda, when the Shiite factions have already *almost* won.

Some background for you - Al-Queda is an organization run by a famous Wahabi-sect Saudi-Arabian. Do you think Iraquis would ever take orders from a foreigner like him? It's kind of like expecting you to take orders from the Pope. It's not going to happen.

The people who predicted a victory for Al-Queda in Iraq were stupid and plain wrong. The people who predicted that the political forces behind the Shiite islamist militias would win might just be right.

This was a civil war folks - Al-Queda were very small players in a much bigger conflict.

Now the Shiite islamists are in control they can allow Churches to do what churches have always done in Iraq. There's no reconciliation because there never was a religious war except for between rival Islamist groups and the the American soldiers who got in their way.

I hate it when people who should know better use the name "Al Queda" as a catch-all name for Islamic Militants. Not all Islamist fighters are Al-Queda affiliated.

11/08/2007 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

The first really argues. The second only pretends to. The other night, heading to Canberra, we were listening to a debate over the Vlaams Belang issue in Belgium. And I argued that the key point was not whether you thought Vlaams Belang's argument that they were no longer a Nazi-tainted party was logical but whether you believed Vlaams Belang. Sometimes a debate is about more than words. It's a narrow line, but knowing which side of the divide you are on is essential to deciding whether you are really in a dialogue or simply in a truce between battles.

Isn't what you're saying that most of us have already made our minds up about most issues and are then casting about for arguments (preferrably, logical) to back up those gut feelings? So therefore, it's not a matter of believing in the righteousness of the Belgium Nazi's themselves, but whether what they are saying resonates with what you already believe personally, so that you're willing to back and defend them.

11/08/2007 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Christians are being driven out of Gaza and the West Bank. Christians are being driven out of Egypt and Iran. Christians are being killed in Turkey. Maybe this picture shows that things can change.

BTW Dobson, I believe that bin Laden chose 'the base' because he wanted turn the individual militant groups into modular components in the fight for the Caliphate. So get perturbed but recognize that that's his rational for the name.

11/08/2007 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger fatima said...

There are hundreds of Churches with crosses available in Iraq , now more and more christian iraqis are fleeing iraq and going to syria and jordan . (google can show you the churches )

Hamas has helped elected Janet Khoury a Christian lady the new mayor of ramallah , without hamas help she would not have made it a mayor
Hamas has saved 50 million dollars last year from their meagre money , to help the christians celebrate christmas 2007. (google can help easily )

11/08/2007 03:53:00 PM  
Blogger fatima said...

mike

did you know there re hundreds of thousands of christians in Iran and 35000 Jews living in Iran ?Yep that s right IRAN . they have been offered money by jewish groups to move to israel , they have been offended and refused the money and Maurice Motamed an iranian Jew at the Iranian Parliament said the same we are iranians whose faith is judaism and we love our country iran .
the israelis on the other hand have been persecuting Muslim and christian palestinians , and going to Christmas mass at Betlehem last christmas was a nightmare . the israelis wont allow them via the Check point . there is a good article that said if jesus came back to Betlehem he would cry to see how the christians are being treated by the zionits .

11/08/2007 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger fatima said...

nahncee

christianity ,was not outlawed by saddam hussein . He protected them and was generous towards the christian community they worshipped freely as he was secular . Tariq aziz his vice president was christian (now in Abugraib ) and was religious too. Now since 2003 most iraqi christians have fled for their lives to syria and Jordan where they can worship in Aleppo and Amman . (google can be a wonderful place, try it dont let others give you wrong info )

11/08/2007 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Fatima, in America where we have had actual dead tree newspapers for 200 years and have had TV news programs since the 1950s (along with the technology to put the satellites in space to beam those programs to other less enlightened parts of the globe) we learned a LONG time ago that just because something is printed in a newspaper or spoken on a TV news program does not necessarily mean it's so.

Likewise ... just because you can Google anything your little heart can think up to desire does not mean it's necessarily the truth, or even that the person it claims to be quoting actually said it. Indeed, some countries and religions are actively involved in rewriting history, so that we're seeing ludicrous claims like the following:

According to Columbia University Arabic and Islamic Studies professor George Saliba, if it weren’t for Muslim scientists we’d all be living in caves and eating rocks: ‘All modern discoveries are by Muslim scientists’.

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/

Yeah.

Right.

11/08/2007 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger Mastiff said...

Fatima,

Yes, there are 35,000 Iranian Jews still in Iran.

But you neglect or willfully ignore the hundreds of thousands of Iranian Jews who escaped the country in a continuous stream starting in 1978, many of whom live in Israel today, or else Los Angeles and other American cities. (There are a few communities in Europe, but nowhere near as large.)

Don't try to prove a point by referring to the few remnants in Iran who, whether out of inertia, fear, or satisfaction with their material position, have not decided to risk death and cross the border.

I know from what I speak on this. Some of my friends are Iranian Jews, and they have told me of their cousins who were shot trying to cross the border. You disgust me.

11/09/2007 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger Gary Rosen said...

Fatima,

Compare the rights of Muslims and Christians in Israel with the rights of Jews and Christians in the Arab world and Iran. Bring it on.

11/10/2007 11:30:00 AM  

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