Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Fog of War

I've spent a lot of time working on paintings from a number of different sources and all related to the war in Iraq. This is a quick sketch from some imagery I found on the web. The original photograph was of three soldiers posed by a destroyed Iraqi tank as a sort of trophy or defeated enemy or something of the kind. The image struck me in a number of ways that I find difficult to put into words; on the one hand here are the victors and our heroes, young Americans bravely serving their tour of duty in a hostile environment. On the other hand one must consider the fact that they are posed in front of what must be the tomb of other soldiers who were, in many ways, doing the same thing only, maybe they weren't as prepared or lucky.

"The Fog of War" is a loose title I've given to the series of works which focus on this subject. Many of those pieces include text found in the newspapers related to the bribery of Randy Cunningham, a decorated Vietnam veteran who sold his favors in congress to a defense contracting firm. In many ways I find it difficult to define the total tragedy of war, or for that matter, even the boundaries of that war. Was the Cunningham incident collateral damage from the war in Vietnam or in Iraq? I think effective arguments can be made for both answers to that question. If this is true, how can we possibly expect to find any real cost to such an action? And if cost is difficult to assess then how can we determine the value of the undertaking regardless of the outcome? One can find more than a little irony in that one thing seems clear: The "fog of war" obscures more than the battle lines.
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