…is this one in the Washington Post style section. There’s this:
Among the dissenting voices in the hubbub yesterday were those worried about Zarqawi’s status as a martyr. And here, again, the frame plays a very odd role. In many traditions, a framed picture of the deceased suggests something like an icon, something to be venerated. Photographs of journalists photographing the image at the news briefing showed Zarqawi’s face looming above them. One might believe, for a moment, that they had gathered to bask in its exalted presence.
The framed image of a head also has a disturbing sense of the trophy to it — proof of another small victory brought home from battle — which connects it to what might be called the ultimate self-destructing image of victory: the “Mission Accomplished” photo-op staged on an aircraft carrier on May 1, 2003. Even before the war had definitively turned sour, that single image established a pattern. The war would be politicized.
What began as a war of necessity, premised on the slam-dunk certainty that Saddam Hussein was staring us down with weapons of mass destruction, eventually became a war of ideas. If there were no weapons, then at least it was a war of liberation, bringing freedom and democracy to a land in desperate need of both. And when that war devolved into clouds of dust and pools of blood as the country broke into religious and ethnic factions, and the rule of law was extinguished by terrorists and militias, the war of ideas began to seem more like another thing — a war of trophies.
We may not have victory. Iraq may be a living hell both for those who are fighting to make it better and for those who live there. But we bring home the occasional politically expedient marker of “progress.”