The US (and specific US policy makers) are directly responsible for that.
There's a LONG list of people referenced here, including a number of military, intelligence, and foreign policy experts:
A key part to understanding this is remembering that blaming it on intelligence failures was the defense which the George W. Bush administration settled on to replace their earlier failed excuses. Before the invasion started, the intelligence claims used to justify it had fallen apart and the U.K. & U.S. Senate reports noted that significant pressure was placed by the White House on the intelligence agencies to justify what they were already planning to do.
(The former Treasury Secretary noted that is was planned starting before 9/11: http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/01/10/oneill.bush/)
The Downing Street memo (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downing_Street_memo) had a similar conclusion, quoting the Foreign Minister:
> Bush wanted to remove Saddam Hussein, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy
The pattern through all of this was the White House choosing to ignore, override, or replace professional civil servants with political appointees who would produce the desired results. When the CIA and other analysts would not support those claims, Donald Rumsfeld setup a sham intelligence unit which did produce the claims they later used (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_of_Special_Plans).
This happened with the planning for the invasion and occupation.
When the military sensibly pointed out that they needed to plan for the occupation:
> In fact, said Brig. Gen. Mark Scheid, Rumsfeld said "he would fire the next person" who talked about the need for a post-war plan.
> Rumsfeld did replace Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff in 2003, after Shinseki told Congress that hundreds of thousands of troops would be needed to secure post-war Iraq.
When the State Department accurately predicted that the invasion and occupation would not be a cake-walk, it was largely ignored. As one example, that was the conclusion in 2003 — well before the full scope of the botch had become clear:
The logic of my question lies in the fact that the US played the biggest role in recent Middle East history. Why would a country with the biggest economy/military complex in the world bother to involve itself? This is an open question I don’t have an answer for. I’m sure that anyone in power does not do anything in altruistic nature though. That certainly includes Feds/governments.
You’re right on point though, free will is an illusion.
Seriously though, I’m not saying I have all the answers but let me ask a simple question. Why would the country with the biggest military industrial complex in the world be involved in the regions all over the world, especially on the other half of the planet? You don’t see soldiers from Bashkiria hanging out in your yard.
All the information I consume is not necessarily true nor fact-based. I don’t know, I wasn’t there. My point is that we don’t know 100% of the information as any information might be false. No channel, source, a journalist is 100% trustworthy nor bias-free. Thus, my only choice is to think about the global picture by consuming and sharing my thoughts based on both true and false news.
So, blinders off.
You say that “entity” fights ISIS. Why do you say that? What’s your take in this? Do you personally support that war? Is it because you read/saw it somewhere or personally went to war? Let’s imagine you did go to war. Did you lay out the orders or followed them? These are rhetorical questions.
I read articles about how the US is the one doing the bid in stopping terrorism, but I also read articles on how the US is sponsoring state terrorism. I heard what the UK officials say, but I also listened to what Iran officials have to say. I read that the US sells billions worth of military stuff to Saudi Arabia, but I also saw that Saudi Arabia might be sponsoring ISIS.
Where’s the truth?
Let’s just consider the possibility that both of our arguments are right as in “ISIS is sponsored by local partisan groups with finance coming from the US”.
Where does that leave you and me? Nowhere. We are simply watching the game those in power play. To hope that any of our governments care about us is a fool’s errand. We are simply economical units and numbers in their vote ballots. The same as citizens of Iraq and Syria. Look what happened to them. It can happen to any of us. The goal is to be prepared and have an “Exit”, that’s all I’m interested in.
If I drop an egg on the ground, can I blame the egg for cracking? If I rest an egg on an uneven bench top, and it subsequently rolls off the bench and splatters on the floor, who is to blame: the egg, gravity, or the floor?
If I give a suicidal person a gun when the rest of the community has been actively preventing that person getting a gun, and openly told me not to give the person a gun, who is most directly to blame for them killing themselves using that gun?
If I leave food on the kitchen bench after Mum told me to put it away, who is to blame for the ant infestation in the kitchen: the ants, my Mum or the pest eradicator?
It doesn't matter that we came back and tried cleaning up the mess later.
Perhaps because there are more US government supporters than ISIS supporters browsing this website?
And while it seems we pretty much all agree that ISIS are bad guys, not that many Americans appear to be bothered by the fact that the politicians they voted for are bombing other countries at will.
To say that the invasion of Iraq did not fuel the escalation in Syria is a little naive.
There is an endless debate between keeping Saddam Hussein in power and letting Iraq slowly reconstruct itself, and removing him and letting all the bad stuff loose.
Wake up. The political situation in Northern Africa, the Middle East and the Sub-Continent is DIRECTLY the result of Western actors going back over a hundred years and continuing today.
Bringing up incidents of rape in the abstract like that is unwarranted and inappropriate in the context of the point you're trying to make.
Think about how you'd feel if you were in the situation of migrants/refugees.
As you should be able to tell from my earlier comment, I do empathize with the migrants. It's a shitty situation, and were I in one of these war-torn country, my top priority would be getting my family out of there. But the laws and immigration policies of Western countries are crafted by the current citizens and should be moulded to their benefit, not a universal altruistic ideal. By my interpretation, that would be limiting immigration to a number that can be reasonably integrated to the host culture. Immigration to Europe currently far exceeds this.
I'm sorry if my mentioning rape offends, but I don't think we can have an encompassing discussion of migrants without at least mentioning it. I could have also mentioned migrants' attitudes towards women, LBGTs, freedom of speech, or freedom of religion. These are not views I want any sizable number of people in my democracy holding.
I too feel strongly for the refugees.
I'll be happy to pay more tax if it helps solve the problem.
However I see Merkels let-them-come attitude as dangerous feel-good politics.
1. Because moving that many people around creates dangerous (for us and them) conflicts.
2. Because for every refugee we help in Europe we let down 100 in the middle east. Why? Because it costs enourmously much more to help people here than to help them down there.
So - IMO - today's feel-good let-them-come policy should be replaced with a targeted approach aimed at helping them where they are or in neighbouring countries.
As I said I'll be happy to pay more a little more tax for this.
I still think we should close the borders and focus on helping the neighbouring countries handle the situation.
Why would a person who care enough to
- want to pay more to help refugees and
- want to help the refugees who are already here
want to do that?
In my case simply because todays solution is very suboptimal:
It creates dangerous situations for refugees (paying huge amounts to criminals to be smuggled across Europe, crossing the Mediterranean in inflatable boats etc etc.)
It creates problems here as well. Lets not understate that either.
And last but perhaps not least: we are letting down the people who are hit hardest by spending the money on those who have the resources to cross Europe already instead of helping neighbouring countries.
Will be interesting to see if long term certain psychic diseases (bi-polar, depression, etc.) get less prevalent on the Arabic peninsula.
I disagree with people saying these are good shots. In the collection another user posted ( http://www.kainoalittle.com/mosul ) there are better shots technically and artistically. Yet that the photographer chose these shots for the article speak tons. These aren't photographs to make you feel better, these are photographs to make you understand (even a tiny bit) what real war looks like and it is ugly.
 ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Alan_Kurdi)
The shots from this story though, I can relate. I can imagine myself (as a middle aged male) in a war going against live rounds and it is very scary. I can imagine both being a civilian, unable to do anything or a soldier going at the heart of the conflict and I hope I will never have to be in such a position.
Let's not forget war is freaking horrible and there is nothing worth idealizing one way or another about it. That's my personal belief, but I don't think art has its place here. Any form of heroic spectacle are truly misleading about what the people and soldiers truly endure.
We might respond positively to the efficacity and skill with which that feeling or emotion is conveyed, but still be disturbed by the message that it represents.
On the other hand, that may be my personal attitude, others certainly feel different about it. Some people profit off if it (not in the multinational way, I mean people making a living bringing provisions in, etc).
On a detached unemotional level, I think there is no reason not to record these events. Be they fire, earthquake, floods, disease, war, etc.
James Nachtwaydoes good on that front by me.
The painting was commissioned before Guernica's air raid. After the bombing Picasso remade the paint. This is the true history.
Another interesting article about Picasso.
It really hurts seeing little kids caught in this crap.
You could have explained a little about the death of newspapers and other media outlets, and how much existing footage/photography there is of conflict in Iraq (to say nothing of Afghanistan, Syria etc). They should have been under no illusions as to the likelihood of any particular photographer getting their work paid for and published. It's like the Simpsons joke about space missions. The first guy landed on the moon and it's the story of the century. The 12th lunar mission though? Meh - what else is on. Trying to get a western, especially an American, audience excited about another batch of photographs about fighting in the Middle East seems like something of a tall order. Even outside of the news photography has died a death. Anyone can take an adequate photograph nowadays with cheap, simple equipment so few people are willing to pay a professional.
The vast majority of this footage is admittedly uploaded in service of one agenda or another, but that's just a lateral move from the status quo ante of the 1991/2003 Iraq invasions. The critical Western press coverage of war in the Vietnam era did not seem to endure. (And that was itself a bit unusual; American press coverage of WW II and Korea was by-and-large aligned with the aims of the American government in those wars.)
I visit them once a week and go through the photos. Quite amazing.
> If you’d like to support my work, you can purchase prints of my photos. You can also learn about and support the world of the Free Burma Rangers here.
To be clear, their methods involve actively seeking out firefights. See http://www.freeburmarangers.org/international/kurdistan/ for some idea of how they think about this.
(Not religious, and not a "security contractor" -- we ran wifi and satellites and such -- but zero interest in being kidnapped and beheaded in a crappy video like one of my high school classmates. Never had anything bigger than a .30cal, and generally low profile vs big armored trucks, but also never got kidnapped.)
Given the lack of US QRF in the conflict areas of Iraq today, the case for every humanitarian or commercial entity being armed is even stronger now.
Some form of neutral, armed-for-self-defense entities for both commercial and NGO services would make a lot more sense than relying on foreign governments. While I love a lot of what MSF does, they have been criminally negligent in securing their personnel in places like Afghanistan.
I'm guessing you get blessing from Iraqi and/or American embassies in advance? How do you ship arms without falling afoul of carrier and export issues? Or are there arms corporations that allow for pickup on location (or on US bases)?
I was locally contracted with DOD/etc and had letters from my customers authorizing me to be armed. (There was policy that such authorization had to come from the combatant commander, but in reality it got delegated pretty far down, and even if people in my customer orgs were not individually authorized to sign, no random MP would challenge those orgs.) It was a pretty ambiguous situation, but being American, I was essentially exempt from local law, and private citizens (Iraqis) were allowed one rifle for self defense in any case. There were some US bases where I wasn't allowed to carry, but the commanders were able to authorize that as well. The absolute worst thing that could happen from the US side would be "sent back to the US", but there was really no risk of that, and the most routine thing was at worst "please deposit your weapons with our office until you leave our base, if you don't have weapons authorization" on the biggest bases toward the end of the occupation -- and those are the places where I would have just secured it anyway in an armory because I didn't want to carry it around, and in any serious incident I would have been around professionals or could have picked up M4s off the ground.
Most private contractors were prohibited by their US issued contracts and their insurers from being armed, unless they were security companies. Many outside the wire contractors still armed themselves the same way I did.
The international shipping of arms is really the only problem; within a country like Iraq it really isn't a big deal. I did end up learning to do armorer level maintenance on the AK and Hi Power platforms while there, and made friends with a gunsmith.
I'm glad you were able to make it out okay. :-)
Fighting armed Christian groups fits perfectly with the ISIS narrative of a religious war.
As far as the OP photos go, this one here shows them as a well armed militia: https://petapixel.com/assets/uploads/2017/07/J9bqC3X.jpg
In Burma they fought for sure:
Yes, FBR allows members to arm themselves. They provide training that might be militarily useful to anti-government groups in Burma. They're clearly not pacifists. They're clearly not as genocidal-government-friendly as ICRC. Maybe you disagree with their methods philosophically, but that's no excuse for basically making stuff up.
They put themselves on the front line and fire on the enemy. I agree with their goals, but that's precisely the definition of an armed combatant.
This isn't a media conspiracy, it's the groups own video footage.
I don't see anything indicating that the charity money isn't being used to pay for weapons.
What's with the aggressive accusations of (not sure what exactly)? I'd note that what I said is precisely true. You seem to be reading a lot of things I didn't say into your reaction.
Again, I'm not making things up here.
Covering fire is defensive, and that's all the video shows. They're not initiating any action, they're not even aiming directly at an enemy, and there's no evidence anyone was even harmed. That fits a pedant's definition of "armed combatant" perhaps, but using that to put them in the same category as ISIS just isn't useful. Note also that they were victims of a war crime, specifically firing upon those providing succor to the wounded. Is it your position that they don't even have a right to defend themselves against war crimes?
> I don't see anything indicating that the charity money isn't being used to pay for weapons.
You mean despite the repeated statements, in things you've cited yourself, that they don't arm recruits? They're very clear that they only let recruits arm themselves. You're making a pretty strong accusation there, contrary to rational expectation, with not even an attempt at proof. That's not "precisely true" at all.
So you think aid groups should be so "neutral" and "apolitical" that they effectively let governments - even the worst ones - decide when and how and to whom they provide aid? Wonderful. That's the ICRC's position. It's defensible, but they've also drawn criticism for it. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Hell of a position to put people in while they're trying to save lives. If you had just said that you believe FBR is wrong for adopting the methods that they have, that would be fine, but making up new wrongs still isn't going to fly.
Your claims have gone from they don't fight to you can't prove that they killed anyone when they fight. Mine has been they fight, and I'd note you seem to have conceded that, and yet still are accusing me of making stuff up.
I think that there is a difference between the work a hypothetical charity which pays for bodyguards for protection, and this, where charity workers are laying down covering fire.
There another version of that footage around where they are clearly aiming at ISIS snipers when providing covering fire. To me that doesn't make any difference, but perhaps it does to you?
I'd be interested in your views on the various Hamas and Hezbollah affiliated charity groups? To me they are clearly terrorist groups, but if I'm reading you correctly they are legitimate because they provide medical aid?
I don't think that we're the only ones here who want to send him some cash.
I would gladly donate. Also, would be neat if they also took Bitcoin and Ethereum as a donation option.
I can see it being hard as a news photographer of any sort these days, as papers are going through a very hard transition that may see them completely vanish at the other side of it.
Have you considered finding some writers on Medium? Their new concept is to be the platform without the paper, readers select writers more organically and writers get paid more directly, photographers don't fit directly into this model yet but you could at least sell to writers there. Maybe medium will come up with a way to have multiple contributors to articles that photographers could be a part of too.
this alone is a seed of conflict: unnatural borders that don't reflect a social reality. throw in prized resources to compete over, and it's incredibly fertile ground for violence.
now, look where else you can see these national border geometries for a glimpse into the future...
Let's not even start with the fact that news staff jobs are basically non-existent, so most of these photographers are going into war zones with no backup support, no insurance provided for them, and it's all done on spec, so it's literally laying their life on the line with, if you're lucky, $3k for two weeks worth of getting shot it. We could then get into the mental health aspect of working for very little, very hard, while also facing the very real prospect of death every day (remember, probably no insurance for therapy or zoloft back stateside).
This is just for war photographers. For your day-to-day working photojournalist it's actually worse for pay and you have to be on call 24/7 or else they'll move on to the next guy/girl and you're out of rotation. Good luck going on holiday.
The short answer is that we do not publish unsolicited imagery from war zones, especially imagery from a completely unknown photographer randomly approaching us via email. In the same way we wouldn't publish a quote from a random citizen claiming to have interviewed Donald Trump, we do due diligence to learn the context of unsolicited images.
Lots of people make the assumption that images are unbiased and truthful representations of an objective reality, and I see many comments here supporting Kai for his "distinct" perspective. I encourage you to read Errol Morris' book "Believing is Seeing", where he discusses the importance of context as related to truth in photography.
Furthermore, especially in a conflict like Iraq or Syria, we do not want to encourage random photo cowboys to show up without the resources that our organizations offer true professionals on assignment in these stories. As journalism got particularly crunched in the early 2000s, we tried this for a brief period and it resulted in many young photographers heading to war zone s to "make a name" for themselves. They were killed and we were blamed for encouraging them.
Lastly, my professional opinion is that Kai's work is amateur. It's what we see from young photographers, relying way too much on aesthetic and situation to try and make an abstract point. Study the work of James Nachtwey, the late Chris Hondros, Don McCullin, even Robert Capa, and you will immediately see (and more importantly, FEEL) the difference.
I am happy to share more if there is interest in starting a dialogue.
Maybe these pictures go against the prevailing vision the media wants to disseminate.
For many people seeing photos sends across very different emotions than reading words.
Source: I hire and direct photographers in war zones professionally.
Journalistic photography is slowly moving away from being a profession towards an expensive hobby where you may sell some pictures sometimes, but not enough to earn a living or even cover the hardware.
At least it looks like this ploy by the photographer has worked - search his name and loads of online media have published something similar to this link. The idea that people don't care and the media won't pay has made it a story. Good on him for outside the box thinking.
Ownership of traditional mainstream media is cloistered in few hands and those hands have agendas for editorial policy and friends in high places.
Chomsky's Manufacturing consent well demonstrates how this is achieved bottom up: i.e. one isn't so much told what to think but hired because of ones views and worldview.
Over constraining your hiring, ( i.e. the aspect of "culture-fit" that is antonymical to diversity ) can lead an organisation to blindness to the true state of things ( i.e. not having diverse perspectives on customers due to a lack of diversity in employee backgrounds ).
This is why diversity is not just about fairness but also highly pragmatic.
Diversity makes for wiser corporations which makes them anti-fragile and gives them new edges in competition.
It is also why the subtle method of subverting democracy outlined in Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent as a practice to create an organisation ( or newspaper ) that outputs a world view concurrent with ones own makes for fragile democracies and administrations.
That it can happen "unconsciously" because it is easier to recognise competence in those who are like you means organisations and democracies must be vigilant against entrenched political and journalistic class evolving.
In short: critics are better friends than an echo chamber.
Or contemporaneously: firing scientists does make climate change less true.
Still, it's great that the author decided to share them for free. They have great value even without being top quality - it's just that many publications want to keep the photos quality top notch.
Try the author's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/isawgold/ or personal website: http://www.kainoalittle.com/mosul if the Petapixel link is not loading for you.
Whining about it in an extremely passive aggressive blog post really isn't going to help his career along.