The Poster or the Wire
The title brought to mind a classic Frank Stockton short story, The Lady or the Tiger. I include the opening sentences for your enjoyment, as what will follow is not very enjoyable:
"In the very older time their lived a semi-barbaric king, whose ideas, though somewhat polished and sharpened by the progressiveness of distant Latin neighbors, were still large, florid, and untrammeled, as became the half of him which was barbaric. He was a man of exuberant fancy, and, withal, of an authority so irresistible that, at his will, he turned his varied fancies into facts. He was greatly given to self-communing, and, when he and himself agreed upon anything, the thing was done."* * *
Today's New York Times ran a story featuring this photo with the tag: "Workers put up posters in Bagdad Sunday extolling the police." They read, we are told, "we will do our best for the sake of Iraq, our pride and our glory." I'm so glad they translated it, as I might have guessed it said something like, "Don't be a chump..."
In the photo we see a spiffy policemen--looking not unlike Western Union men of yore, or maybe a Park Avenue bellhop or Mr. McFeely, the speedy deliveryman on Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. He is holding and protecting a young child, perhaps from the IED's which might detonate behind the razor wire in the left of the photo. The message is clear: we are protecting this child, who is, in effect, Iraq itself.
Here's the disconnect from reality: it is extremely rare to see a photo of any Iraqi police without a balaclava or mask protecting their identity. The police fear public recognition. Also, the public fears the police, and that is why there are militias in Iraq. If this were not so, the police wouldn't need blast protection and defensive postures for their police stations.
Most all of the non-prop photos of Iraqi police show them in full combat gear, to include helmet, body armor and full military kit. Not the Officer Friendly picture that is depicted.
Regarding the razor wire seen blocking the street where the pictures are posted: razor wire is a military obstacle to deny access to this area. Are the indigenous populations to believe the poster, or the wire?