For Our Own Good

If there was a golden age for American media, it was long ago and it was short.

Over at The Atlantic, Torie Rose DeGhett has an excellent, utterly unsurprising article about a photograph taken in the last hours in the first Gulf War.

The work of  the the then 28 year old  photographer Kenneth Jarecke, the image captures a fact of war hopelessly obscured by the shots that angered  Jarecke enough to postpone a planned hiatus from combat photography.  “’It was one picture after another of a sunset with camels and a tank.” — or, once combat actually began, gaudy displays of gee whiz toys, the disembodied beauty of missile exhausts, or bloodless shots of tires and twisted metal.  War as video game, or a spectacle for the folks back home.

Here’s DeGhett’s description of Jarecke’s riposte:

The Iraqi soldier died attempting to pull himself up over the dashboard of his truck. The flames engulfed his vehicle and incinerated his body, turning him to dusty ash and blackened bone. In a photograph taken soon afterward, the soldier’s hand reaches out of the shattered windshield, which frames his face and chest. The colors and textures of his hand and shoulders look like those of the scorched and rusted metal around him. Fire has destroyed most of his features, leaving behind a skeletal face, fixed in a final rictus. He stares without eyes.

Go to the link.  Look at the shot.

It’s a great photograph — great technically, and better as a work of art, in that it tells a story and commands empathy, all  in a single frame.  Most of all, though, it is essential journalism.  It said, clearly, what war costs.  It reframed — really, it guttted — the narrative of violence without pain that was so much the preferred description of the Gulf War in Washington DC.  Its viewers got to see what was done in their names.*

Or rather, it didn’t and they didn’t.  DeGhett documents the photograph’s journey from the battlefield to it’s near complete obscuration.  The in-theater Time photo editor sent it back to New York; Time passed and so did Life.  The AP in New York pulled the shot from the wire.  No one would touch it in the US, and in Europe, only the British Sunday paper The Observer, and the French daily Libération ran the image.

The key here, as DeGhett writes, is that there was no military pressure not to publish Jarecke’s photograph.  The war was over by the time his film got back to the facility in Saudi Arabia where the press pools operated.  The decision to withhold the shot from the American public was made by the American press, by editors at the major magazines, at The New York Times, at the wire service. The chokehold on information at the top of the mainstream media was tight enough back then that most newspaper editors, DeGhett reports, never saw the image, never got to make their choice to publish or hide.

You can guess the excuses.  “Think of the children!” For the more sophisticated, a jaded response:

Aidan Sullivan, the pictures editor for the British Sunday Times, told the British Journal of Photography on March 14 that he had opted instead for a wide shot of the carnage: a desert highway littered with rubble. He challenged the Observer: “We would have thought our readers could work out that a lot of people had died in those vehicles. Do you have to show it to them?”

Why yes, Mr. Sullivan, you do.

This is an old story, and as DeGhett notes, it’s not one that would likely play out the same way today.  It’s not as if, what with Twitter and ‘net journalism and the camera phones and all that, horrible images of value and images that are violence porn are not hard to find.  (As always, for each of us, YMMV in drawing the line.)  But her piece is still a very useful piece of journalism, for two reasons.  For one — the picture is really extraordinary, and it has a minatory value that exceeds the tale of the moment it was not allowed to tell.  When John McCain and Lindsay Graham and their merry band of bombers call for war here, war there, war everywhere — and even or especially when a situation like the rise of ISIS seems to a broader slice of our country to merit the attention of the US military — we should remember what such attention looks like on the ground.

For the other:  this reminds us what it looks like when the media — national press in particular — conforms its narratives to the needs of its sources, or even just to the wisdom that prevails among a handful of fallible, comfortable, Village elders.  They’re doing it still, as best they can — and their best is still pretty effective.  This shot is a reminder of that power, and the amoral disdain for the reader, the viewer, the citizenry with which that power is too often wielded.

Let me (as DeGhett does) give Jarecke the last word:

As an angry 28-year-old Jarecke wrote in American Photo in 1991: “If we’re big enough to fight a war, we should be big enough to look at it.”

*You’ll note the obvious.  Unusually for me, there is no image accompanying this post.  Jarecke’s photograph is under copyright and can be seen at the link.  No allusive work of fine art really works against that shot, I think, so, none is offered.

 

 

 

 

 






58 replies
  1. 1
    Cacti says:

    Most Americans think of Operation Desert Storm as the “good Iraq war”.

    Next to none of them know about the war crimes of “Stormin’ Norman” Schwarzkopf, who ordered the massacre of Iraqi forces, retreating in compliance with UN Resolution 660.

  2. 2
    Belafon says:

    “If we’re big enough to fight a war, we should be big enough to look at it.”

    Bush showed that we were neither big enough to fight a war or look at it (prevented photos being taken of caskets). We just happen to have the biggest toys.

  3. 3
    BGinCHI says:

    Sanitizing war has been good business for a hell of a long time.

    Herodotus knew that very well.

  4. 4
    NotMax says:

    There weren’t (to my knowledge) pictures, just words, about the wounded and half-buried unwounded on the other side whom the ‘coalition of the willing’ bulldozed, burying them alive under the sand. (No links right at hand, but surely I cannot be the only one who read those stories in credible outlets at the time.)

    Flash forward, and significant chunks of funding for ISIS either comes from or is funneled through Kuwait.

  5. 5
    Betty Cracker says:

    When John McCain and Lindsay Graham and their merry band of bombers call for war here, war there, war everywhere — and even or especially when a situation like the rise of ISIS seems to a broader slice of our country to merit the attention of the US military — we should remember what such attention looks like on the ground.

    Peace-loving hippie that I am, I must admit I wouldn’t at all mind seeing a photograph of the ISIS motherfucker who sawed that journalist’s head off fried in a truck. But yeah, we’ve got to be mindful of what bringing violence to bear to achieve political ends really means.

    And it wouldn’t just be that son-of-a-bitch fried extra crispy; it would be kids with their arms and legs blown off. There are damn few situations that make the inevitable innocent victims an acceptable cost.

  6. 6
    BGinCHI says:

    @Betty Cracker: Clean war is the great fantasy.

  7. 7
    Mike in NC says:

    I still recall something a high school teacher told us more than 40 years ago: “The idea that we have a free press is the biggest laugh and the biggest lie”.

  8. 8
    Seanly says:

    We have a long & storied history of refusing to see the true costs of our policies. Initially in WWII, the photos didn’t show any dead US servicemen. As the war progressed, they decided that they needed the public to see the US war dead. The change was brought about partly, IIRC, to prepare the US for the estimated 1.5 million casualties for eventual invasion of the Japanese islands. I believe the Battle of Tarawa was the first where dead servicemen were shown in US media.

  9. 9
    Shakezula says:

    How deranged the U.S. must look to other countries.

    “We’re brave, bold, heavily armed, rugged individualists … who must be shielded from unpleasant photos of dead people, because eww.”

    “Girls and women must be protected from the difficult choice of having an abortion … so we want them to bring an unwanted pregnancy to term and raise the baby.”

    “We believe in justice for all … who are white heterosexuals…”

  10. 10
    MomSense says:

    I still remember reading the beginning of the book Johnny Got His Gun. I hadn’t seen the movie or really heard of it before it was assigned to me for a class so it was absolutely horrifying as I realized the condition of the main character. It is the same idea though. Before we decide to go to war, we should at the very least know full well what that decision entails.

  11. 11
    Belafon says:

    @Shakezula: We’re not the only country that does this, as Tom’s post points out:

    No one would touch it in the US, and in Europe, only the British Sunday paper The Observer, and the French daily Libération ran the image.

  12. 12
    jheartney says:

    Mathew Brady spent a fortune documenting the American Civil War as it happened, using the then-new technology of photography. Because of technical limitations, he didn’t make images of battles in progress; instead he showed the aftermath, including the dead bodies.

    When the war ended, no one wanted to see the images.

  13. 13
    Gin & Tonic says:

    And yet… The Eddie Adams photo from February, 1968, was widely published contemporaneously and won him a Pulitzer. Why the difference?

  14. 14
    Amir Khalid says:

    I remember the scene from The Green Mile where the evil young death-row guard has deliberately botched an execution just for kicks. The condemned man catches fire in the electric chair, and dies a gruesome, agonising death. Before forcing the guard to clean up the result, his supervisor forces him to take a good long look at the horror he has wrought. War, like the death penalty, is a horror that its cheerleaders need to take a good long look at.

  15. 15
    J.D. Rhoades says:

    Amazing, haunting picture. But it’s possible that no one wanted to run the picture because papers don’t want the people reading over breakfast to barf up their oatmeal. Tends to stifle sales.

  16. 16
    J.D. Rhoades says:

    Amazing, haunting picture. But it’s possible that no one wanted to run the picture because papers don’t want the people reading over breakfast to barf up their oatmeal. Tends to stifle sales.

  17. 17
    MikeJake says:

    Ehhh…I don’t know. Would seeing that picture really have spurred sober reflection on the nature of war, or would it have given the people another opportunity to show how stupid they could be?

    Remember that “Collateral Murder” video Wikileaks released, and how stupidly people reacted? Gosh, we couldn’t have soldiers killing people in a combat zone! Especially at a distance, with helicopters. That just wasn’t sporting. And the salty language they used! Break out the smelling salts.

    The problem isn’t that war is ugly, it’s that people think war can be fought surgical and tidy. And when it inevitably isn’t fought clean, rather than question their conception of war, many people will instead conclude that the soldiers are doing it wrong! Strafing fleeing soldiers doesn’t seem very heroic, but historically the rout and the pursuit is when the massive casualties happened, and the Highway of Death was no different, yet you’ve got people today who see it as a crime, when it’s really the fruit of a decisive victory.

  18. 18
    Kathleen says:

    I periodically go to go to a used bookstore downtown which sells old Life and Look magazines (going back to the 30’s and 40’s), which are arranged chronologically in large bins. I like to flip the magazines in order because it’s like viewing a miniature time capsule of US history and culture (classic Look headline: “Should Girls Be Astronauts” circa 1960’s).

    I noticed on one visit that the cover of an issue of Life from the 60’s featured a picture of 2 wounded American soldiers. I remember thinking how I had yet to see in American media a similar picture of US soldiers from Afghanistan or Iraq and wondering what had changed between Vietnam and more current wars.

  19. 19
    Amir Khalid says:

    @J.D. Rhoades:
    Not just possible, but certain. The photo still needed to be shown to the public nonetheless.

  20. 20
    jharp says:

    I feel the same way about capital punishment.

    Let’s show everyone exactly what we are doing if it is working so well. Put it on the TV.

  21. 21
    Gypsy Howell says:

    What a chickenshit country this is. Too delicate to see what our MIC hath wrought.

    I wonder had we seen the photos of the children at the Newtown shooting if gun control could have gotten any traction.

    Nah. Who am I kidding.

    ( And, in that instance, I do understand that there are other highly emotionally-charged issues that we need to respect – parents and families who wouldn’t want photos published, etc)

    But still. Would it have changed how the country thinks about guns?
    Nah. Who am I kidding.

  22. 22
    J.D. Rhoades says:

    @MikeJake:

    Would seeing that picture really have spurred sober reflection on the nature of war, or would it have given the people another opportunity to show how stupid they could be?

    Good point. There were a couple of sites on the Internet showing pictures taken by troops and uploaded during Dubbya’s Wacky Iraqi Adventure. I think one of them was called something like thatshitsfuckedup.com. Some of the pictures were grotesque and nightmarish photos of dead Iraqis. And some of the comments…well, if you had any faith in human nature left before, you’d have lost it after reading those.

  23. 23
    Rex Everything says:

    The key here, as DeGhett writes, is that there was no military pressure not to publish Jarecke’s photograph.

    Not to go all “Free Mumia” up in here, but seriously: This is an utterly perfect mini-example of the propaganda model Chomsky described in Manufacturing Consent.

  24. 24
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Gypsy Howell:

    What a chickenshit country this is.

    Human nature, not US character.

  25. 25
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @MikeJake: The thing is, there’s a bait-and-switch that happens. Before the war starts, it’s all about how cleanly the whole thing can be accomplished, and how pure our intentions are: look at the fine training of our troops, and the precision weapons they have! The oppressed will welcome us! When the war starts and the civilian casualty counts and atrocity stories come back, the justification is “well, war is hell, you expect some of that.”

  26. 26
    RP says:

    @J.D. Rhoades: I agree. The photo was published eventually, and I remember it well. I don’t think it was unreasonable for editors at the time to think that it was a little gruesome to publish in a newspaper. There’s a fine line between truth-telling and gratuitous gore.

  27. 27
    RP says:

    @J.D. Rhoades: I agree. The photo was published eventually, and I remember it well. I don’t think it was unreasonable for editors at the time to think that it was a little gruesome to publish in a newspaper. There’s a fine line between truth-telling and gratuitous gore.

  28. 28
    burnspbesq says:

    @Shakezula:

    How deranged the U.S. must look to other countries.

    And yet, the demand for visas to emigrate here far outstrips both the supply, and the demand in any other country.

    Every year, hundreds of thousands of people who can’t get visas risk their lives to sneak into this country.

    Go figure.

  29. 29
    Mike R says:

    @Shakezula: As long as they support the same causes we do and they believe in the same set of religious dogma. Of course there are more qualifications but we all know you have to be the right kind of American to deserve justice.

  30. 30
    Mike in NC says:

    The Newtown shootings — the media was loath to use the term “massacre” — have disappeared down the national memory hole. Politicians owned by the NRA would have prevented publication of any photographs of the dead.

    The public was outraged not by what went on at Abu Ghraib, but the fact that photos got out. More ancient history. Just a casual look at the TV news today indicates we need to be scared to death of the growing ISIS threat, Ebola outbreaks, and a few Negro malcontents in Missouri who refuse to know their place in society.

  31. 31
    MikeJake says:

    @Matt McIrvin: No question, the war proponents bear a fair share of the blame for the routine ignorance of the realities of war and violence because their propaganda is too good. If we want to be a mature society, any discussion of war needs to begin by accepting that “war is hell.” If you’re going to decide to go to war, you’re going to end up with journalists and civilians getting killed. There’s really no avoiding it, so the war better be worth enough to you to deal with all the other stuff.

    I still genuinely don’t understand the outrage over the Highway of Death. The idea that you make the decision to mobilize for war, put the troops in harm’s way, and right at the decisive moment, when you’ve got the enemy on his back, you…let him go? Lesson learned? I think you see an image like the Iraqi burnt to a crisp, and you want to humanize him. Maybe you imagine yourself in his shoes, in that hopeless situation, and you feel a little sorry for him. Nothing wrong with a little sympathy, but don’t go overboard. He wasn’t a Boy Scout. Granted, he wasn’t pure, unmitigated evil either. He was a typical soldier, and he had just finished doing typical soldier things during the occupation of Kuwait: rape, looting, intimidating the locals, shitting on their floors, etc. So the coalition forces had them on the run? Great, here’s some rockets and depleted uranium in your ass to spur you along. I doubt the Kuwaiti civilians shed any tears.

  32. 32
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The problem has always been if you let the civilians back home see the carnage of war with no blinders, they might lose their enthusiasm for war.

    Raw footage of island hopping the the Pacific war was far too graphic for people back home to see. And combat vets don’t want to talk about it, because they don’t want to relive such a harrowing experience.

  33. 33
    burnspbesq says:

    It is good that war is so horrible, or we might grow to like it.

    If you insulate people from the horrors of war, you get exactly the result that Gen. Lee. predicted.

    In retrospect, doing away with the draft was a really bad idea. It would be much harder for this country to go to war if we were throwing upper-middle-class suburban white kids into the meat-grinder.

  34. 34
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @burnspbesq:

    In retrospect, doing away with the draft was a really bad idea. It would be much harder for this country to go to war if we were throwing upper-middle-class suburban white kids into the meat-grinder.

    I absolutely agree.

    WWII had the sons of the rich and powerful fighting alongside the sons of the not so rich and not so powerful. It was an actual existential conflict.

    We have not had one since then.

  35. 35
    Amir Khalid says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Every year, hundreds of thousands of people who can’t get visas risk their lives to sneak into this country.

    Go figure.

    For all its flaws, the US is still a better place to live than many other countries. And for many people, it still offers (or seems to offer) opportunities not to be had at home.

  36. 36
    srv says:

    I was invited to attend a dinner after GW1, an association of military pilots, active and retired. The speakers were a H.S. classmate (AF SAR medic) and his bro-inlaw (F-16 pilot).

    The F-16 pilot got up and showed all this cool gun camera film that the public doesn’t see, with technical and color commentary and garnered lots of questions from the appreciative audience.

    My classmate followed with slides of low-level carnage, destruction and hundreds of bodies scattered about. His stories included an armless Republican Guardsman trying to fight off his medical assistance with the stumps of his arms and landing at a border site in the east where Iraqi troops hugged the Americans because they thought they were there to help fight the Iranians.

    The mil pilots didn’t have any questions for him and spent most of the talk looking at their desert plates.

    I find it very possible that drone pilots deal with a lot more trauma than zoomies droping bombs from 30K feet.

  37. 37
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @burnspbesq:

    In retrospect, doing away with the draft was a really bad idea. It would be much harder for this country to go to war if we were throwing upper-middle-class suburban white kids into the meat-grinder.

    Liberals constantly say this today, but I’m not convinced of it at all. Which is more likely, that the draft would be a political disincentive to a war that someone can convince us is necessary, or a that the war would be an incentive to enact all kinds of ways for the well-off and connected to buy their way out (just like there always were before)?

    Besides which, the lion’s share of voting in this country is still done by people who are way, way past draftable age. If they won’t approve of the government helping their grandchildren with health insurance, will they care about keeping them out of combat?

  38. 38
    Patrick says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    Liberals constantly say this today, but I’m not convinced of it at all. Which is more likely, that the draft would be a political disincentive to a war that someone can convince us is necessary, or a that the war would be an incentive to enact all kinds of ways for the well-off and connected to buy their way out (just like there always were before)?

    Plus 1. It didn’t prevent the Vietnam war for example.

    I think maybe a better way would be to have a war tax imposed before the war started. This would hit the folks that actually vote, but don’t have to fight the actual war. They might think twice about invading Iraq if they actually have to pay for it. George W Bush had led us to believe the war was free.

  39. 39
    ThresherK says:

    I remember the hoops the US military went through to convince us that one or two US fighter planes were not shot down by Iraqi fighter jets, because it simply can’t have happened that a military like the US’s could have been beaten in this one small part of battle by these nobodies.

    It makes the faked “smart bomb” numbers look like patty-cake by comparison.

    (I blame “Top Gun” and a hangover of the “On Bended Knee” press.)

  40. 40
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Patrick: Agreed, mostly. The draft wasn’t the issue behind public support or not of the various wars. And lots of “rich and famous” didn’t serve draft or no draft.

    There are lots of benefits for a mandatory period of national service by young people, but the details very much matter.

    The way to stay out of wars is to have competent elected leadership. That’s really the bottom line.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  41. 41
    Paul in KY says:

    @Cacti: I think the ‘official’ explanation was that they were not retreating in compliance. Something about looting a bunch of stuff as they were leaving. Do not know if that was true or not.

    Was probably not true.

  42. 42
    Calouste says:

    @burnspbesq:

    America has been fairly isolated from the horrors of war since the Civil War, because all the wars they fought in happened on someone else’s territory, and the casualties were almost exclusively military, not civilians. It’s one thing to hear growing up how, say, your grand uncle died while heroically invading Normandy, it’s another thing to hear, as happened to me, one of your primary school teacher talking about a young girl he knew that was shot by a Nazi guard for gathering coal that had fallen off the trains.

  43. 43
    Paul in KY says:

    @RP: I don’t think it was ‘gratuitous’. That’s what happens when you fire hellcat missiles on targets filled with gasoline/shells.

  44. 44
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Calouste: The Germans got to see war more up close and personal at the end of WWII than anyone ever should have.

    It made a mark.

  45. 45
    Paul in KY says:

    @Matt McIrvin: If people were in the military basically unwillingly (thru the draft), like they were in every war, Vietnam on back, their voting loved ones would definitely not be gung ho to get in wars.

    Problem with the ‘volunter’ military is that regular joes (without any volunteers in their family) just shrug at the casualties, etc. cause those people all ‘volunteered’.

  46. 46
    Paul in KY says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: It’s not the ‘rich and famous’ serving, it’s the sons & daughters of middle class Americans serving (and then getting killed/maimed) that cause them to not be gung-ho about these wars of choice.

    They then communicate that to the politicians (which they would not do, if none of their kin were in harms way).

  47. 47
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Paul in KY: I understand the logic of the argument, I just don’t think it’s the most important piece. There was no draft in 1940 until October. Public opinion (and the opinion of the elected leadership) was to (mostly) stay out of the war in Europe even without a draft.

    The Vietnam war was supported by the US public (even with a draft continuing since the 1940s) until September 1968.

    IIRC, something like 90% of the public wants the minimum wage raised but Congress won’t do it. That’s another illustration of the point – It’s not public opinion on the issues that matters (with or without a draft), it’s having sensible people in elected leadership. Bad leaders will do what they want with or without the public.

    HTH.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  48. 48
    West of the Cascades says:

    Your choice not to post art is a fine one. Goya’s Third of May 1808 and his related etchings of The Disasters of War are about the only things that might even come close to being analogous to that photo.

    The photo is masterful – I wonder if, had it run in the US press, it might have had the same sort of impact as the 1968 photo of General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Viet Cong prisoner in Saigon (everyone can picture that photo, I assume) in bringing home the horrors of war.

    It’s shameful that our mainstream press no longer has the courage to post the photographic truth any more, even as, ironically, more and more sources become available as people can take photos and videos on their cell phones.

    The latest police murder (in St. Louis) of a black man who posed no imminent threat to the officers who gunned him down, which was captured on a cell phone, gives me a little hope, because I’ve seen that video posted in several places with an explanation that it contradicts the police’s story that the victim was within 3 feet of the police with the knife raised over his head when they shot him.

  49. 49
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @West of the Cascades: it might have had the same sort of impact as the 1968 photo of General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Viet Cong prisoner in Saigon

    I alluded to that photo above. I disagree, however, with its “impact.” The US withdrew its last forces from Vietnam over 7 years after that photo ran. 7 years. Kids were being drafted and sent to Vietnam for over four more years after that photo ran.

  50. 50
    Paul in KY says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: Definitely responsible leaders are crucial. Good point about minimum wage. Do think the level of protesting in latter stages of Vietnam War (which dwarfed any current protesting) was amplified by draft & these non-volunteers all getting shot up.

    Of course, many more deaths in Vietnam than in Iraq adventure.

  51. 51
    PurpleGirl says:

    As I read the description of the photo I decided not to view it. Then I remembered a scene from the movie Star Wars: It’s Luke’s Aunt trying to run away from her home as it was attacked by the Emperial stormtroopers with flamethrowers. She is just a burned skeleton. It’s shown as a long shot.

  52. 52

    Jarecke put out an entire book of his Gulf War photos, accompanied by poems from Exene Cervenka. It was released by 2.13.61, the publishing company run by Henry Rollins. It’s out of print, but you can get a copy on Amazon.

  53. 53
    Caroine Usher says:

    Americans during the Civil War were mostly sheltered from the effects of war on the human body. Then Matthew Brady exhibited his photographs from the battle of Antietam in a New York gallery.

  54. 54
    Joel Hanes says:

    The Atlantic may have some value after all.

  55. 55
    Mart says:

    @Patrick: My theory is a universal draft does not stop war from starting; but once there are no WMDs and young affluent Jack and Jill come home in a body bag, upper middle class old white voters figure shit is fucked up and they would stop it in a couple years. I think the lag time would be much shorter now than in Vietnam, when Government was trusted a great deal more.

  56. 56
    Mart says:

    Beheading is rightfully universally decried as an evil act. Heard it on liberal talk radio, NPR, MSNBC, and FOX.

    I do not understand how it differs at all from shock and awe carpet bombing, droning wedding parties, etc.

    Beheading may be more just. At least the horrific murder is to the individual intended; with no collateral damage to innocents.

  57. 57
    Cervantes says:

    @Rex Everything: And Ed Herman.

  58. 58
    jimbo57 says:

    I don’t know about NO allusive work of art doing it justice. A couple from Goya’s Disasters of War series come to mind. Perhaps the one with the French Grenadiers having some jolly fun with a captured Spanish guerilla, bayonets and a handy tree. Plus ca change…

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