Raising the Flag – WW2 v. Iraq

Viewing an image like the flag raising of Imo Jima in World War 2…

Rasing the Flag in Imo Jima

… can instill emotions like pride for the great nation we stand for. Pride for the nation that protected the world from terrible dictators and the inevitable loss of personal freedom as well as the loss of our way of life.

Now, let’s look at another image that, on first glance, looks not too much different (intentionally so, I would guess) but conveys a very different message…

Raising an Oil Pump in Iraq

A very convincing example of  ‘one picture is more than a thousand words.’ The initial reaction is the realization of how different the goals and objectives were then and now.

But I can not help thinking if this is really so different. Often the history books glorify past accomplishments, and I believe that this is mainly so because the victors write the history book combined with the fact that paper is very patient.

Let us take a look how different the two situations really are. In the second example we went to Iraq for some altruistic reason, to protect the world from a terrible dictator who was threatening the world with his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. And we got him and wiped him out. At that point we erected a symbol for our right to be there, a demonstration that we are in control now. And it looks like we will be there for a long time to maintain that foot-hold.

About sixty years ago, didn’t we do pretty much the same thing? We went in there to eradicate a terrible threat to the civilized world in form of one main and a few secondary dictators that threatened our way of life. We wiped them all out, erected our symbol of victory and stayed there for a long time. In fact, we are still there to some extent.

I am speaking here as if the heroic country was my mine, but I actually grew up on the other side and I remember that even after several decades of guarding these guards of the world of freedom looked out of place for me, and that even though I grew up with GIs and their bases being part of the German landscape.

The only real difference I can see is the type of symbol used. The first one actually being much broader, and when looking what it brought the occupied countries – it was much broader – everything from white bread to psychiatry.

I don’t know what was more destructive to the occupied, though.