A Picture Worth A Thousand Words

US troops guarding the American headquarters in Baghdad stand guard with their rifles as former Iraqi soldiers, protest to demand back wages, Wednesday June 18, 2003. A U.S. military spokesman confirmed that U.S. soldiers killed two Iraqis during the demonstration. AP

Some of the news from Iraq I understand and some of it, frankly, I just don't. Like the other day when I saw this picture on the front page of "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post." Maybe it was on the front page of your hometown paper.

I was drawn to it because you don't often see American soldiers using fixed bayonets to hold off a crowd of protesters. But it was the caption that really got to me. It said the demonstrators were former Iraqi soldiers who'd come to U.S. headquarters to protest because they aren't getting their back pay.

Now wait a minute. The Iraqi soldiers say it's our fault they didn't get paid for fighting us? Maybe I'm missing something here, but I don't remember a scene like that in those closing days after World War II. I thought we were right to topple Saddam, but that picture really bothered me because pictures can sometimes tell us more about war than words.

Seeing the Marines raise their flag on Iwo Jima told us about valor. Seeing Rosie the Riveter showed us changes on the home front. That naked child running from American napalm showed us the horror of good intentions run amok in Vietnam.

But that picture of Iraqi soldiers blaming Americans for not getting paid, to be honest, I'm not sure what it means. But maybe it tells us three things. First, that we're involved in something unlike anything we've faced before. Second, that we're nowhere close to a solution. And third, whether or not we were right to go to Iraq, we're in too deep now to walk away.

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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