February 2, 2006

The Saddest Thing Is That The Girl Is Dead

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:06 pm

Title deliberately blunt as a reminder that we should keep the main thing the main thing.

There’s a kerfuffle about attribution and distribution in a photo shot by Michael Yon that was rather iconic. Yon’s got an interesting fight on his hands. I remember a photo someone close to me took of the Kam that wound up on one of those dot-com military sites that hoover up all the military photos; and an unpleasant series of emails resulting in a decision not to go all lawyer on it. (This is one of the reasons I’m not much of a joiner for those kinds of military reunion or information websites; it’s still a business you’re dealing with, and some are better than others.)

That said, Yon’s a different fish and perhaps one of those people destined to always be in some kind of kerfuffle. I don’t know the whys or wherefores of embedding pictures, but I do see this:

  1. That photo is the most valuable photo Yon has ever taken in terms of impact and money. The value to Army is not as great. I do not think other photos with this impact shot by Newspaper Guild members get this kind of treatment, and my public affairs work (such as it was) clearly delineated attribution and only disseminated with permission–and if someone changed his mind I would stop dissemination and explain.
  2. Army has fouled up several information warfare skirmishes that fall outside of traditional public affairs, mostly involving new media. The Vietnam-era Follies were partially because Army did not understand the implications of what it was doing, and this is a big yellow light to a strategic comms thinker that we’ve got problems in the middle management of strategic comms even if Yon’s merely being a pain.
  3. For all Yon’s prickliness, he’s been a great friend to the Army because of his evocative and honest writing and photography. Army may make small bonus points with traditional press, but loses big by being the Bad Guy here.

Bottom line? Bottom line is different, though.

I wish the little girl hadn’t been attacked by those evil people.

I’m sorry the photo is so evocative, because the little girl in the major’s arms died. The major clearly kept more little girls and boys and their families from being murdered, by working hard on deployment to destroy those nihilist bombers. But this little girl couldn’t avoid the car that drove right at her and her friends, and for this I am sad.

7 Responses to “The Saddest Thing Is That The Girl Is Dead”

  1. 74 Says:

    People need to remember that one of their responsibilities is to not make the service look stupid. Someone obviously lost sight of the objective.

  2. Subsunk Says:

    Won’t comment on the Army and Mike Yon. I love them both. It is sad when family members fight each other, and this is no different to me.

    But your headline is right on. I’m sad for a child who won’t grow older, a mother who lost her baby, and a father who lost his joy. I’m sad our Men had to suffer, had to strive harder and harder against evil men who didn’t care who they killed.

    But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. For every wingnut who says we should have…… done this or that instead of what we did, there is only one answer……… We tried to do the Right Thing. Nothing ever got accomplished by wishing. Great accomplishments only happen after great striving, extraordinary effort, and difficult, hard work. It is easy to be an armchair quarterback and critique the strategy, the tactics, the execution, the plan. But it is hard to actually try to change the world in the face of the greatest evil we have faced in over 50 yrs. Only Men would have the courage and the fortitude to try such a grand scheme, fraught with peril, danger, and Death.

    And that is why Americans are the ones who do so. They are the only Men on Earth with the guts to try the truly hard things. John F Kennedy said, “we choose to go to the Moon not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” America today chooses to change the world for the better, against huge, nearly insurmountable odds. Against the ill-conceived advice of both fair weather friends and deceptive foes. Because changing a culture is exceedingly difficult when all that culture needs to say or do to prevent or limit change is to be stubborn and resist it. But Change is inevitable. For every culture. And the trick is for Men to learn this, and be a part of it, not an obstruction to it. For if you try to stop it, it will crush you.

    And I know who is changing the world today. It is not Islam. It is not Muslims. It is a GI dogface, with a beanie baby in one hand, and an M-16 in his other. And he is an Irresistable Force which cannot be deterred or reckoned with by evil men. For Justice is in his left hand, and Death is in his right. And the children of this world will owe him their thanks in 20 years.

    Press on, gents.


  3. John V. Says:

    Subsunk… you leave me speechless (whihc is no easy thing to do.) Wow. Thanks.

  4. Carol Says:

    I second that – I love Michael Yon too. But I love little Farah as well, as I wouldn’t know her to pray for her if it wasn’t for Michael’s photo. From what I understand that photo helped generate a lot of Mosul people to start phoning in with tips about terrorists, so her death had some value for the people of her community.

    I never thought about the US army as a force for good until that photo – wish they’d do the right thing in this instance and understand that the second word in copyright means something important.

    This particular “kerfuffle” is doing the US Army no good. There I said it. Not deleting it either.

  5. Pundit Review Says:


    What we have here is the ability to communicate! Bloggers have rallied behind Michael Yon in his copyright battle with the US Army in a major way over the past 24 hours.
    Michael was in a stalemate for seven months, getting nowhere, until blogs lik…


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  7. Mike O Says:

    Mike’s response

    is pretty gracious and it sounds like Brooks will being running interference for Yon through the pencilnecks for awhile.

    I is sad that the little girl had to die; however, so many other kids have been slaughtered by these monsters without publicity.

    Let her stand for them all and- if it causes action by some- then Mike has assured that some good comes from the tragedy.

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