The War Photo No One Would Publish

first gulf war




Not long after the Iran-Iraq War ended in 1988 (with more than one million casualties on both sides), Saddam Hussein, then-Iraq’s leader, had his troops aimed, again, at its neighboring country, Kuwait, bringing the exasperated country back at war. The consequences were deadly for both Iraq and Kuwait, and nearly for Saudi Arabia; almost 800,000 US and NATO troops had to be brought in to stop Iraqi troops from invading the wider Middle East region. Thus began First Gulf War in 1991. Nonetheless, the war played upon was all huge mess not only for the military, but also civilians; while hundred thousands of soldiers were either dead or killed under the storms of fires, bombardments, and mortar shells, millions of civilians were also massively displaced. Most depressingly, Iraq had to pay war reparations to Kuwait almost equivalent to 80 billion US$, severely hampering the country’s already fragile financial stability.

But the public worldwide didn’t really have a complete idea about how the war was truly about. Kenneth Jarecke captured raw, real pictures about the worn-out troops, dead bodies, and all gruesome scenery from the battlefields, but none of the mass media wanted to publish his work instead. And much of the public remains concealed by the reality, up to now.

Read the full article in The Atlantic about Jarecke’s photographs.




Not every gruesome photo reveals an important truth about conflict and combat. Last month, The New York Times decided—for valid ethical reasons—to remove images of dead passengers from an online story about Flight MH-17 in Ukraine and replace them with photos of mechanical wreckage. Sometimes though, omitting an image means shielding the public from the messy, imprecise consequences of a war—making the coverage incomplete, and even deceptive.

In the case of the charred Iraqi soldier, the hypnotizing and awful photograph ran against the popular myth of the Gulf War as a “video-game war”—a conflict made humane through precision bombing and night-vision equipment. By deciding not to publish it, TIME magazine and the Associated Press denied the public the opportunity to confront this unknown enemy and consider his excruciating final moments.

The image was not entirely lost. The Observer in the United Kingdom and Libération in France both published it after the American media refused. Many months later, the photo also appeared in American Photo, where it stoked some controversy, but came too late to have a significant impact. All of this surprised the photographer, who had assumed the media would be only too happy to challenge the popular narrative of a clean, uncomplicated war. “When you have an image that disproves that myth,” he says today, “then you think it’s going to be widely published.”

Infographics: how 5 countries could become 14

future map

Actually, combined with the possible city-states, and one ‘missing’ plenipotentiary, the number could be instead 18.

Sorry, I was instead counting ‘Sunnistan’ as two separate countries – Syria and Iraq.

Source: The New York Times

Microscopic country, macroscopic projects.




Having been splashed by seemingly endless oil wealth has turned most of the Middle Eastern countries into something like the hands of  Midas – as though everything it ‘touched’ might turn out into gold. Dubai is not hesitant for a complete, skyscraper-lavished ‘plastic surgery’ of its own, building high-rises almost as plentiful as those in Shanghai or any other new-world meccas else. Saudi Arabia is spending hundred billion dollars on the same thing – constructing utopian-like satellite cities, many of which are later uninhabited. (and one prince even once complained that the government only focuses on ‘building building’, not ‘nation building’)

And Qatar is the doing the similitude as well. Having succeeded in inviting numerous Ivy League universities to set up branch campuses in its futurist-inspired Education City, bought the global voices through that newly-born ‘panopticon’ we later know as ‘Aljazeera’, and rebuilt the entire capital, Doha, through a mushrooming number of skyscrapers worth hundred billion dollars, this country, endowed with the world’s 25th largest oil reserves and 4th largest gas reserves, has never truly discovered its own limits of satisfaction. Indeed, it is planning even more: the most expensive World Cup (scheduled in 2022), perhaps if not in the whole planet, the entire solar system may fit in.

The emirate is not poking fun at the media: 220 billion dollars have been prepared to ensure the success of the world’s largest football competition. Whereas the ‘center-of-the-universe’ sensation, 2008 Beijing Olympiad, had had all the world leaders dumbfounded with its 50-billion-dollar series of projects to modernize, and to ‘redecorate’ the capital notorious for its excessively abundant air pollution.

And this 220 billion dollar thingy? That could be similar to Carlos Slim Helu and his two replicants accumulating the same amount of wealth, and unbelievably, a bit higher than the overall GDP of Nigeria in 2011 (with a population of 170 million, its GDP level currently stands at 200 billion US$), or 60 times more costly than previous World Cup in South Africa. Like Aladdin fairy tale were emboldened into reality.


See 5 things around the planet that may be worthy of such tantalizing amount. Click it here.