20 July 2006

The Costs of War

These horrifying images (photographs: Sebastian Scheiner/AP) show young Israeli girls writing "greetings" on artillery shells destined for Southern Lebanon.

The images have appeared on several blogs adjacent to images of dead Lebanese children whom the bloggers portray as the recipients sof the girls' messages. The blogs I have seen are irresponsibly inflamatory. You can find links to some of them as well as a set of initially anguished but increasingly vituperative and unfocused reactions at The Guardian Unlimited which also offers a plausible account of why we might imagine the girls as innocent rather than as hateful.

What is horrifying is that there are parents who would allow their children to do this. I am not under bombardment and never have been, so you may think it naive or incredible for me to say this, but I am confident that I would never allow, let alone encourage, my sons to do such a thing. The very thought makes me sick.

I close with a prediction. These girls will be haunted by these images. Their parents have placed them in the position of forever being hunted down by journalists or historians or others and asked "How Could you have Done Such a Thing?" I think that is an unforgiveable legacy.

[Thanks once more to an anonymous commenter for calling my attention to this topic!]

10 Comments:

Anonymous Art said...

While I really do appreciate the careful texts you bring to the photographs you show, and your overall intention to avoid the empty rhetoric so often associated to war images-gone-propaganda... these are disgusting images, because of their clinical feeling, their preplanned taskwork, the children pictured standing in for society and future.

The girls though, will never regret them, I would venture to say. This is the issue that has been argued about forever, that is, it is their ideology, that which structures the meaning in the representations, and so they will never "see" what you see, neither as adults, nor as kids.

I find the way you have handled discussing the imagery of this particular set of battles fair and insightful because one senses you have some unresolved conflicts that make up your own interior dialog - and that is part of the politics of the images, to concern both subjectively and with criticality, so not with stereotypes and cliches, but supported by conciousness.

21 July, 2006 16:14  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Thanks very much. It is interesting to read the description on the Guardian blog page - a description from one of their contributors - about how the photos came to be. I recommed it insofar as it gives somes credence to your view of the "clinical" nature of the images. You can find a link in the original post if you like.

21 July, 2006 16:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is obvious you don't know anything about the Middle East, if these images offend you. Apparently you have never seen the ways in which children of the Arab world are manipulated into becoming bloodthirsty, Islamic fascists. Apparently you have never seen demonstrations in Gaza, and Iran, where large groups of kids march with Kalashnikovs, and bombs strapped to their chest, as young as 6 years old. A few little girls writing on rockets with a marker "horrify" your western, bourgeois sensitivity; what a joke.

I suggest you start browsing in here: http://memritv.org/Search.asp?ACT=S5&P1=165

21 July, 2006 22:35  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Anon: Thanks for your insightful comment. It always is nice to have someone with such astute views share their observations!

21 July, 2006 23:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the last post, I would suggest that there is nothing exclusively western bourgeois, or indeed necessarily sensitive about being horrified at photographs of children writing on missiles. To argue that these ideals were western on the other hand might be problematic.

On another subject - I recently came across some images you may find interesting. They are by Michal ronnen Safdie. She has visited a refugee camp in Darfur and also some of the truth and reconciliation commissions in Rwanda. Some of her photographs of the latter seem to specifically depict a political dialogue. They are images that go beyind the notion of fostering compassion for victims.
http://www.guernicamag.com/art/68/the_bahai_refugee_camp/
http://www.visiontv.ca/RememberRwanda/Photogallery/Photo_Gallery.htm

21 July, 2006 23:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"To the last post, I would suggest that there is nothing exclusively western bourgeois, or indeed necessarily sensitive about being horrified at photographs of children writing on missiles. To argue that these ideals were western on the other hand might be problematic."

The point that I'm trying to make is that these images wouldn't ruffle a feather in the Middle East. When one considers the volatile Middle Eastern framework, with its ethnic strife and fascist fanaticism, these images are absolutely silly. What's more, these images indicate antisemitism and hypocrisy on the part of the author because he chooses to advertise these images to the world and ignore the vile hatred that is being pounded daily unto Arab and Persian childrens' minds, thereby establishing a perception in readers' minds that Israel is the fanatic state; I find that highly objectionable and utterly ignorant. That's okay, according to his sarcastic reply it is obvious he only wants comments from people who agree with his emasculated, bourgeois, vegan view of the world. Have a nice day!

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/images/20001110_xndku_piggygun.jpg

21 July, 2006 23:35  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Thanks once again. The second series of epithets is even more persuasive than your first offering. I am sorry that my sarcasm offends your sensibilities - I hope you appreciate the irony!

21 July, 2006 23:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Offended by your sarcasm? highly unlikely, Jim Johnson. Admittedly, I am entertained by your pseudointellectual jabberwocky. But, what does offend me, is your underhanded, and hypocritical antisemitism. Why don't you bring to your readers' attention some of the filth that is being propogated by the Islamofascists instead of vilifying democratic states acting out of self defense?

Also, I was disgusted by your "prediction":

"These girls will be haunted by these images. Their parents have placed them in the position of forever being hunted down by journalistss or historians or others and asked "How Could you have Done Such a Thing?"

What are you suggesting here? That Israeli actions are the equivalency of Nazi Germany? What do the girls have to regret, or be ashamed of? That the Isreali government is protecting Israel's sovereignty from Hizbollah?

I'm sorry to inform you that Israelis are united against Hizbollah, and this campaign will not end, once again, in a limp ceasefire - ceasefire with terrorists? - that will bring us back to this situation in 5 years. I'm sure you know that UN "troops" have been monitoring the "buffer zone" for 6 years. Ironically, not only did their presence not deliver "peace" but some of the international troops, that hail from Islamic sympathizing nations, actually aid Hizbollah's adventures. Furthermore, the Lebanese government is impotent within their own borders. Therefore, they can not successfully see to it that resolution 1559 is met. With this in mind, I ask you, what is Israel to do? Just accept it?

We all know the Iraq war has opened hell's gates in the Middle East, by creating the "Shiite Crescent." However, this new dimension in Middle Eastern power politics, is creating new and unexpected alliances. For the first time in the history of this conflict, we are seeing Arab Sunni states side with Israel against Islamic aggressors. I guess there is something Arabs fear and loath more then the "Zionist entity": each other.

My personal view is that this "crisis" is a Cold War-esque, proxy war between the United States and Iran. Certainly, if Israel loses in Lebanon, and the US deserts the Sunnis and Kurds of Iraq, like it deserted the South Vietnamese, the Somalians, and the Lebanese, in the past, Iran walks away the big winner, and a nuclear Iran is just around the corner.

22 July, 2006 00:49  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Just one observation since you seem convinced that I am anti-semitic. You should read the echange between myself and another commentator on the post that accompanies this one. He is persuaded that I am simply an apologist for Israel! (Precisely because I criticise bloggers who DO equate Israeli policies with Nazis.) Perhaps you two should talk? You might also check out some of my earleier posts starting with 7/14 .... After that decide whether literally everypne on the Guardian site who finds the images I've posted here similarly horrifying also is anti-semitic. Smply put, your charges are baseless rantings made behind a veil of anonymity. Quite impressive. It is a shame because the end of your post suggests you actually have things to contribute to the discussion.

22 July, 2006 06:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Children are and have always been part of war. You cannot have 'protected war' in a way that you can have protected sex. If you want to procreate you need to take off the condom. If you want to go to war you need to kill people.

31 July, 2006 11:25  

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