A Tale of Two Photos

You have probably seen the photos of the statue of Saddam Hussein being toppled, and TV footage of jubilant Iraqis rolling the bronze head around, bringing back memories of so many previous popular uprisings – 1989, 1956, 1953…

If there is one thing this war has taught us all, it’s that we can’t believe what we’re told. For Donald Rumsfeld these were “breathtaking”. For the British Army they were “historic”. For BBC Radio they were “amazing”.

A wide angle shot in which you can see the whole of Fardus Square (conveniently located just opposite the Palestine Hotel where the international media are based), and the presence of at most around 200 people – most of them US troops (note the tanks and armored vehicles) and assembled journalists.

The BBC website had the honesty to say that “dozens” of Iraqis were involved, but this grain of truth was swamped by the overwhelming impression of mass joy. The radio and TV were even worse.

The masses are no doubt glad to see the back of Saddam Hussein, but this was a US Army propaganda coup, staged for the benefit of the same journalists it had bombed the day previously, and which the British media have swallowed hook line and sinker. Shame on them.

The photo of Iraqis and Saddam Hussein's statue in Fardus Square that some commentaters said were the war's definitive image
But things look a little different when seen in perspective