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World's First Iconic War Video?

How many people around the world saw the video of Syrian civilians pelting the (withdrawing) American vehicles with rocks and vegetables? Did those viewers have the same reaction I did? At first, it was pure schadenfreude.

I wondered if that video would be looked back on, someday, as iconic, the 'moment' when Earth started rebelling against the American Empire.  What was it that Emerson said about the Americans at Concord bridge, 'here once embattled farmers stood, and fired the shot heard 'round the world?' 

The Syrians were doing something better than firing at the American "heroes", which would have been counter-productive. The Syrians were expressing disdain and mockery. Much of the world may feel the same way about American "heroes" immured in their expensive military toys -- there is something cowardly and bullying about interfering in the affairs of small countries that are none of America's business.  

There have been iconic photographs of war, over the years, that seem like a shortcut around reading a shelf of books about the war. Matthew Brady's photographs of the American War Between the States, are a good example.

But his weren't the first.  Here is an interesting article about early photographs of war.

Think of the iconic photograhs of trench war in World War I: corpses hung up in the barbwire of "no man's land", or the corpse of a grunt who didn't even make it out of the trench before he was shot, and was now sliding back down into the mud.

Think how perfectly the Iwo Jima flag-raising photograph of World War II caught the mood of American triumphalism.

During the Viet Nam "era" you might remember the grisly photo of the South Vietnamese officer sticking the gun to the head of the Viet Cong prisoner; the little naked girl running from her village during a napalm strike by American "Heroes"; or people clinging to the helicopter skids on the roof of the embassy, as Americans were finally kicked out.

Why did photographs like these become iconic? Perhaps because they resonated with the public. The mockery and disdain shown by the Syrian civilians might help create a global resonance. When people loose their fear of a fading empire, they can start to rebel.

After Gettysburg, photo by Timothy O'Sullivan


Ed said…
..."South Vietnamese officer sticking the gun to the head of the Viet Cong prisoner."

I did not see this picture until I had returned from Vietnam but I heard talk about it during Tet. I was told that the Saigon Police Chief had killed a VC just down the street from my billets that was behind the Capital Hotel in Cholon. When I finally did see the picture the tall white building in the background does look like the Capital.

We had a lot of sniper and VC assassin activity in that area. The ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) received a lot of criticism about their fighting abilities and their courage. However, I witnessed an ARVN squad display more courage than I have as they were flushing out snipers around the PX Complex where my office was.
You left out one of my personal favorites.
May 1, 2003

“Mission Accomplished “

Dubya Bush