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Photos of Mosul 2017 (petapixel.com)
365 points by wfunction on July 8, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 131 comments



The recent drone footage from Mosul is some of the most mind blowing, surreal stuff imaginable. God help anyone trapped in that city.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IW_F2ntQOcQ


I was there in 2010 and it was pretty peaceful. Now it's a total disaster, along with most of Iraq.


I was there in 2005-2007 and it was peaceful at times, punctuated with violence. I can't imagine what it would be like to have lived there from Saddam days through today without being able to leave -- at least 5 big waves of violence.


USA Military Indistrial Complex strikes again.


Why is this being downvoted with explanation?


I didn't downvote, but my guess would be because ISIS is responsible for this escalation, not the US.


ISIL (or something like it; the name/identity couldn't be predicted) as a substantial force with territory, was a foreseeable consequences of the US invasion of Iraq, the inadequate allotment of troops for occupation compared to pre-invasion expert-identified requirements, and bungling of details of the occupation like de-Baathification, particularly the wholesale and disorderly dismissal of security services.

The US (and specific US policy makers) are directly responsible for that.


I want to believe that this result was foreseeable. I want to believe that some people at least are wise enough to see consequences of actions. Can you point to some piece of writing explaining this prior to or contemporaneous with the US invasion?


I suggest to you read "I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad", Specially chapter 3 & 4. It has all the details you want.

https://smile.amazon.com/Was-Told-Come-Alone-Journey/dp/1627...


I'll try to take a look at this later, but Amazon says the publish date is 2017. I'm really looking for something that prognosticates.


James Fallows was one of the better known journalists and he got a lot of attention:

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2002/10/proceed... https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2002/11/the-fif...

There's a LONG list of people referenced here, including a number of military, intelligence, and foreign policy experts:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opposition_to_the_Iraq_War#Opp...

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.

http://articles.dailypress.com/2006-09-08/news/0609080088_1_...

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:

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/19/world/struggle-for-iraq-pl...


Not sure I'll be able to find the detailed stuff I saw at the time, but here's a reference to General Shinseki's estimate of the needed troops and the (manifestly false; Iraq had a long history of ethnic and sectarian militia conflict) administration response.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/20/opinion/mills-truth-teller-ira...


And who’s responsible for ISIS?


I'm not defending the US, but that's a dangerous slippery slope you're on that ends with no one being responsible for anything because free will is an illusion.


Your attempt to short circuit any rebuttals with infinite regress aside, this didn't happen organically or spontaneously - humans caused this, and I can give you the names of many of them.


I asked a simple question and I’m already on a slippery slope? That way any counter-argument is a slippery slope.

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.


Please give me name and phone number of the one person that is responsible. Thank you. I'll call him/her and tell him/her that he/she did all that.


You’re overdoing it a tad, but let’s just imagine you had a number of that “evil person”. Why would you call him/her and tell he/she did all that? Wouldn’t it be pointless?

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.


so why are you blaming the US specifically and not any of the disparate partisan groups that directly built ISIS? the islamist militants from MENA, the saudis funding wahhabist madrassas abroad, the gulf monarchies giving arms and funding, the former iraqi ba'athists that make up its officer corps... and instead you choose an entity directly fighting ISIS? why is that? almost as if you have ideological blinders on...


I don’t know all the details, I just see arguments from both sides and want to explore the possibilities so that I have a rational non-biased opinion anyone can have. I’m not from the US nor from the Middle East. I’m not religious nor in support of anything close to it.

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.


The US deliberately caused a power vacuum and did nothing to fill it.

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.


>so why are you blaming the US specifically and not any of the disparate partisan groups that directly built ISIS?

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.


Basically you can rewind things at a certain prison where many islamist insurgent were kept, including al baghdadi. This prison was managed by the Iraqi or I don't remember who.

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.


Many, but I'd like to add Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot to the list of names we're considering.


I've been watching live combat footage on the Internet. War is an astounding phenomenon.


where is that available?


YouTube, for a start.


anti refugee sentiment is so unconscionable, what the hell world do we live in


Please at least make an attempt to try to understand the other side. When any immigrants come, they change the country they immigrate to. With these particular refugees, they're refugees in no small part because of shortcomings their home culture has. It's not evil to want to preserve your own culture in the face of this. You can feel empathy for the people trapped in a hellish warzone just as you can feel empathy for the girl raped by migrants. The refugee debate is not good-vs-evil; it's competing virtues.


However, it is evil to colonize people, use your economic, military and political might to support corrupt and tyrannical leaders for your economic (and military and political) gain and then be upset that the very people you helped subjugate/oppress and/or create an environment in which life and liberty is impossible shouldn't then be able to seek asylum.

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.


You can simultaneously preserve your own culture and let people have a place to live.

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.


You can't perfectly preserve your culture when you let in immigrants on the scale that, say, Germany is. It's sort of a sliding scale; the more you let in, the more you change. Europe will be changed for this.

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.


Defending you here:

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.

Why?

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.


this is not wrong, but to me, its out of scale. tons of people are getting injured, dying, and unable to live anything resembling a normal life. i just think the need to address that is much greater than the risks you outline. i think we (the usa) can certainly do more to help refugees before that is thrown out of balance.


I guess thanks for not calling me evil.


Not sure why you got some downvotes. Maybe the wording? But still.. I share your sentiments regarding other's anti-refugee sentiments: seeing things like this video, and having met and talked to actual refugees (seriously, I wonder how many of the antis actually did that? Or would even want to?) and having heard what they went through, it is painful to see others shouting refugees aren't welcome (or worse). Ok I get it, it is not always practical and sometimes even problematic to allow thousands in your country, and yes they have a different culture, and yes some of them might not be on the run for actual war. But my feeling of compassion for their problems, which I as a 'standard' western can only begin to feel related to (e.g. how many of use even ever came close to an actual proper bomb, or the constant fear for it?), is still too big to jump on that bandwagon.


yes. sometimes i wonder... is the magnitude of the suffering that refugees are trying to escape so great that its just lost on people? its impossible to relate to for some people like me. the fact that i was shaken by watching these war videos is evidence of this, perhaps. so maybe some of us just dont empathize at all because the truth is too painful. then its easier to say there will be lots of problems so lets just not bother. i guess its incumbent on all of us to remind each other what i think the truth is.


I hope I'm not to special but I'm in the position where I'll happily do something for those people (e.g. pay more taxes so we can help them, or give my xbox to the local refugee center - actually I did that : - )

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.


Moralizing is cheap. How about you stop voting for politicians who keep bombing and destabilizing countries and producing more refugees?


i do, and i hope other do too. its hard to know who is going to do what when people lie to get elected, but i do my best.


The one upside is that all those suicide attacks slowly wipe out all young men mentally unstable enough to do this.

Will be interesting to see if long term certain psychic diseases (bi-polar, depression, etc.) get less prevalent on the Arabic peninsula.


You're (likely incorrectly) assuming that the rate of extreme radicalization is lower than the rate of annual suicide attacks.


These shots capture the harshness of human conflict and how we (human beings) change in the face of it. Thank you.

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.


I have to (respectfully) disagree. These pictures are good, but imo they are still arguably war porn- lots of concrete rubble and men in the heat of battle (videogame stuff essentially). They don't really capture the true consequences or horrors of war. Pictures like the Napalm girl in Vietnam or more recently the picture of the drowned refugee boy on the beach[1] and that picture of that Syrian boy covered in blood and dust[2] . Those pictures are painful to look at (but not too graphic to be nonpunishable) but still tug at the heartstrings and inspire people to action or make them reconsider their actions.

[1] ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Alan_Kurdi)

[2](https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/18/boy-in-the-amb...)


For me it works a bit differently. The photographs you referred to (and I do know them) make me very sad but also it is difficult to relate (not sure if it is the proper verb), maybe because I don't have kids.

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.


I always found disturbing the way a mixing "art" with this kind of subject. It's giving a much more positive feedback, as in "it looks cool" or the feeling of emotions you get in a movie (because it doesn't look real).

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.


Art certainly has a place here. The purpose of this are isn't to look cool. The purpose of art is express and/or provoke a reaction. In this case, it's a reminder that these people exist and are suffering due to war. Most of us know war is horrible, but we don't know it the same way someone who has experienced it has. Part of the reason these pictures exist is to give us a glimpse of that understanding. And maybe if we're lucky next time around, people won't choose war.


"Art" obviously means different things to different people, but I know that in my case, and likely in the grandparent post's case, "good art" is a form of expression that effectively evokes emotion, feeling or idea, be they positive or negative.

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.


I both agree with you and disagree with you. On the one hand war just or unjust results in destruction and death, so anything that comes from it is tainted by it.

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 Nachtway[1]does good on that front by me.

[1]https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Nachtwey


Does there exist any acceptable mixing of art + war in your view? What are your thoughts on Picasso's "Guernica" [1] ?

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guernica_(Picasso)


When I think about Guernica I think about opportunism.

The painting was commissioned before Guernica's air raid. After the bombing Picasso remade the paint. This is the true history.

https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=en&js=y&prev...

https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=en&js=y&prev...


fascinating. yet must the history of a painting always overshadow its current emotional impact & message?


Years ago I learned to separate the art from the artist. There is too much art that I love made by despicable people, like Picasso. He was a really awful person but I leave that aside when enjoying his work.

Another interesting article about Picasso.

http://www.nytimes.com/1999/02/05/arts/art-review-occupied-p...


https://petapixel.com/assets/uploads/2017/07/PwUqoz6-800x534...

It really hurts seeing little kids caught in this crap.


Agree. A lot of this cannot be truly understood just by the facts, it seems you somehow need to feel it too.


"But the soldiers had fed me and given me a seat in their Humvees, and the refugees had tolerated my presence on some of the worst days of their lives. They very rightly expected that I would tell their story."

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.


"death of newspapers and other media outlets" decreases supply of such images - armchair bloggers have less means, infrastructure and connections to do it.


The proliferation of mobile devices that record videos and pictures has IMO made up for it with sheer documentation volume from people on the spot. The Syrian civil war is far more thoroughly documented than the first Gulf War even though the first Gulf War took place in an environment where Western news-gathering organizations were in a much better financial state. You can see combat recorded from the the Syrian Arab Army, the foreign military powers intervening in the war, and the rebel factions. Not just combatants, either; the aftermath of attacks on civilians gets recorded/uploaded as well. They're all uploading stuff for the world to watch.

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.)


But they are free to misattribute some video on youtube as something different or exaggerated and build their "news" on that


These are great pictures, and makes me realize that while we hear a lot (though not enough) about these conflicts around the world, its usually just accompanied by a photo or two or a few seconds of video capturing a firefight or an explosion. But such things are cliche at this point and don't hit home. Seeing real soldiers taking a break between firefights, and real families fleeing their homes with their children and a few belongings really makes the reality of the situation much more graspable. I think we need to see a lot more of these candid photos (and video too) of the real people whose lives are being devastated by these conflicts.


There is a great short film about the yugoslav war that depicts this really well. You can find it on youtube, type in "10 Minutes, a short film".


I'd never heard of the Free Burma Rangers before, and these photos helped me learn. I guess that means the author has succeeded in his admirable mission to tell others' stories.


I too had never heard of the Rangers and their work. Here's their site: http://www.freeburmarangers.org/


A consistently excellent place to view photos of this sort, though not exclusively about war, etc, is the Atlantic "In Focus" page:

https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/

I visit them once a week and go through the photos. Quite amazing.


I would love to donate to this person, and I couldn't find a way. Any suggestions?


For what it's worth, you can buy prints at their website: http://www.kainoalittle.com/prints/


From the last line of the article:

> 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.

http://www.kainoalittle.com/prints/


While I strongly support this journalist's work, I'm extremely hesitant to support the Free Burma Rangers. In Iraq they are an armed religious group, and while their goal of supporting refugees is admirable, their methods seem likely to make things worse.

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.


They are armed and they are religious, but they don't seem to be acting as combatants. The article you cite doesn't indicate that FBR members participated in any fighting. Yes, they actively seek out firefights because - rather obviously - that's where their services are likely to be needed. There are arguments for and against being armed in such an environment, but none of that suggests they're an "armed religious group" in the same sense as ISIS or the Badr Brigades. Perhaps you could explain why you think their methods are likely to make things worse, more than is true for any foreign group up to and including Red Cross/Crescent or MSF.


Not being armed in such an environment is insane. I spent most of a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan, and unless I was on US bases with vastly better security, was armed in any situation where it was possible (there were a couple exceptions in Afghanistan and they were horrendously stupid.)

(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.


Aside from the political/ethical discussion here: logistically, how did you arm yourself when abroad as a private citizen in the Middle East?

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)?


In Iraq in 2003-2004 it was "send one of my guards to the market to see what was on offer". I spent the entire time I was there trying to get a Sig or Glock; had a Browning Hi Power pretty early on, then upgraded to a CZ 97B once I found a way to get .45acp ammo. Also spent the entire time trying to get a decent AKM, never found one, ended up with an RPK. I saw some MP5s as well, but they were $3-5k, and 9mm isn't really a great round in FMJ, so I never got one. Obviously everything remained in country when I left.

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.


Fascinating stuff, thank you for sharing.

I'm glad you were able to make it out okay. :-)


They are armed and fight. Look at the OP photos, or Google for news coverage.

Fighting armed Christian groups fits perfectly with the ISIS narrative of a religious war.


There is nothing in the OP that shows them fighting. Couldn't find anything on Google either, or on their website. If you have any actual specific evidence of what you claim, show it. Otherwise I'd have to conclude you're either delusional or deliberately defaming a humanitarian group.



Covering fire while they're visibly rescuing wounded? Your "well armed militia" is two out of twelve carrying weapons in a group photo? News stories that repeat others' complaints about FBR members being armed, but still no evidence of a single person ever having been hit by an FBR bullet? And yet you put them in the same category as ISIS. You're going way out of your way to exaggerate what you from your comfy armchair see as problems with how they go about saving lives.

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.


I disagree completely with civilian groups arming themselves and entertaining war zones when their posture is no longer defensive only.

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.


> their posture is no longer defensive only

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.


It's your words that pit them in the same category as ISIS, not me (or rather you keep claiming that is what I'm doing, but it isn't what I've said anywhere).

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?


They're a bunch of ex-military cowboys running around playing saviors, but they're not humanitarians. They're missionaries with guns. They endanger probably more lives than they save and screw things up for the actual humanitarian agencies who have to clean up their mess, while they get their egos stoked on puff pieces on the Omaha evening news. Do NOT support FBR.


Me too; I've dropped him an email to see if he has a paypal or patreon or something :)

I don't think that we're the only ones here who want to send him some cash.


These are amazing images. Images aside, photographers like these put their lives in danger everyday to get images like these.

I would gladly donate. Also, would be neat if they also took Bitcoin and Ethereum as a donation option.


Good shots Kainoa, I really wish I could read the story that goes with them.

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.


To clarify with the Medium thing, I guess what I mean is when you sell to papers you don't consider it your job to find the writers that your photos go with, but maybe now that is part of the job.


Apologies for the confusion, this isn't by me -- I was merely sharing the page and wasn't sure what else to title it than what it had originally. I just posted a note to that effect.


Some really good photos. War is tragic, but it sure allows for people to capture amazing photography. What does this say about us?


For photos by a pro check these out: www.asmaawaguih.com/albums/liberating-mosul/


It's weird because I've read several times over that violence in the world is decreasing on average, so it would seem the middle is the last violent place. Still quite violent...


you see all those weird straight lines when you look at the political boundaries on a map of the middle east? those are lines drawn by former colonial masters. they look inorganic because they aren't natural.

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...


There seems to be a few more photos in the collection on his site too:

http://www.kainoalittle.com/mosul


Curious why the photographers pictures didn't sell? Is there an oversupply of stuff material? Is the source questionable?


Why would no one buy these amazing photographs? Either OP is bad at finding a buyer or photography is one tough job.


Photography is a tough job. It's wracked with internal politics, people playing favourites and in general just a lot of work. Honestly, it's easier to get $250k in VC funding than to sell your first break out photo essay (even if it's brilliant). I'm not an actor, nor a novelist, but I imagine it's a lot like trying to get your first big role or your novel to even get read by an editor. It's a painful grind on a day to day endless cycle of rejection.

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.


I am a photo editor at a major publication that's been around for more than 100 years, and I have been responsible for sending photographers to Iraq, Syria and other conflict zones over the past seven years.

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.


There are things that are not supposed to be shown on the traditional media, dead soldiers being the first one that comes to mind.

Maybe these pictures go against the prevailing vision the media wants to disseminate.


Tell that to the BBC, ITV, and Sky News here in the UK. They show dead bodies all the time. I find it distasteful. I get it - people died, you don't have to show me their bodies to get your point across.


> I find it distasteful. I get it - people died, you don't have to show me their bodies to get your point across.

For many people seeing photos sends across very different emotions than reading words.


A media's distaste for violent images is not the issue here. Photographs very similar to these are published every day by tens of thousands of outlets around the world. The issue is that these photographs are coming from an unknown source and not many editors are apt to trust unknown sources randomly emailing with conflict images these days.

Source: I hire and direct photographers in war zones professionally.


Lots of supply and little demand - doing photography is one thing but selling photography is one tough job.

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.


I'd guess that there is fatigue or disinterest in the West at continuing to hear/see this sort of story. It doesn't sell so editors run with whatever local non-drama captivates people.

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.


Perhaps these photos do not 'fit the current narrative' or go against the editorial policy of the news outlets.

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.


The correspondence of Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent and the practice of "culture-fit" in Hiring Practices should be a note of caution to growing companies.

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.


[edit] Or contemporaneously: firing scientists does NOT make climate change less true.


Mosul is basically Aleppo done by the good guys, but looking much the same in terms of dead civilians and destroyed buildings. Not as popular a story.


Or there is an active interest in resisting on-the-ground journalism about this conflict. Photos of soldiers killed or wounded are still subject to restriction.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/27/world/americas/27iht-photo...


I suppose you mostly tried US papers? I see a better audience for this in Europe


Apologies for the confusion, this isn't by me -- I was merely sharing the page and wasn't sure what else to title it than what it had originally. I just posted a note to that effect.


Note: Just to clarify in case anyone misinterprets, these are not my photos! I merely copied the title from the page. If there's a better way to title pages like these, please let me know, since I was confused as to what title I should put while avoiding it being misleading.


It'd probably work to prefix the name of the author before the title, so something like "Kainoa Little: No One Would Buy My Photos, So Here They Are For Free: Mosul 2017".


Ooh, that's a good idea, thanks!


I hope this thread doesn't get hijacked with political discussions. I'll spare my comments at least. Let the story be told through the images...


What else should we talk about in this thread? About how sad it is that nobody wanted to buy her photos, or about how great it is that she's giving them away?


FYI, Kainoa seems to be male. It's an easy mistake to make, since names ending in "a" strongly tend to be female in many (especially European) languages, but this one is Hawaiian.


To be honest, sounds like a plan, because I'd like to know the former and I agree with the latter.


It's just my personal opinion, but I think these photos are poor quality. Many of them were not in focus and post-processing was used to make them look better. And that's based on the really small versions available. So I don't think it's surprising they were not accepted by some newspapers (especially that we don't know the asking price).

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.


Excuse the photographer for the fuzziness of a photo taken while BULLETS ARE FLYING AROUND.


getting the shot correctly while BULLETS ARE FLYING AROUND is the job. Blurry photos don't get printed, and they certainly don't win Pulitzers.


I'm not saying the job isn't hard. I'm just saying that some people do it better (or have better hardware) - and having a choice, publishers choose the best option they can get.


The photographer is a man.


Wildly off topic: this site redirected my mobile chrome to some advertisement with a screen blocking scammy alert and closed all other tabs. What the hell?


I think you have some malware on your device; closing all other tabs isn't something a website should be able to do.


The device rebooted like 10 minutes later so I'm breaking the tinfoil hat out. Anyone got good advice on how to handle possible infection on an android phone?


Factory reset


I'm also having this issue, so I can't even view the photos.


His website won't load. No wonder they're not sold.


The article has received both the Reddit and HN hugs of death, it might be a traffic problem. And it loads fine (quickly, even) for me...

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.


Very nice, but could have used higher resolution.


They're decent pictures, but not "GREAT" pictures. Even in warzones photojournalism is a highly competitive field. Editors at Reuters, AP and other news agencies get tons of sets offered every day.

Whining about it in an extremely passive aggressive blog post really isn't going to help his career along.


I'm sorry, but where is the whining? He simply said that no-one would buy his work, and that he felt he owed it to the people who kindly shared some of their lives with him to try and get their story out there. The headline 'no one would buy my photos...' is catchy, truthful, and has obviously been effective at drawing attention.


As a foolish man that had not experienced war.these pictures remind me of Call of Duty a lot!!???.I am kind of wonder the magics advance VR can do in training of soldiers?




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