What really happened when the statue fell?

As I think I’ve mentioned, my brother, father and I share a subscription to The New Yorker. I’m the final recipient in our troika of magazine readers, and a stack usually piles up before I can get to many issues. So, while this story is six months old, I just read it this week.

It’s a great piece of reporting on the circumstances around the famous toppling of that statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad in the early days of the Iraq invasion. It’s a tale of eyewitness accounts, manufactured celebrations and military propaganda:

In 1999, Marine General Charles Krulak wrote an influential article in which he coined the term “strategic corporal.” Krulak argued that, in an interconnected world, the actions of even a lowly corporal can have global consequences. “All future conflicts will be acted out before an international audience,” Krulak wrote. “In many cases, the individual Marine will be the most conspicuous symbol of American foreign policy and will potentially influence not only the immediate tactical situation, but the operational and strategic levels as well.”

To my mind, this is the sort of long-form (and expensive) reporting we need to preserve in an era of declining fortunes for journalism.

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