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‘Not all 'unknown' soldiers are of equal worth as the picture below shows.

Here the British army bulldozer tips the bodies and body parts of Iraqi soldiers, in all probability unwilling young conscripts forced into the Iraqi army, into a pit.

Their names will not be carved on some grand monument nor will their mothers and sisters, wives and lovers ever know where they are buried or even if they are dead.

:: instant burial Iraq 1990

Even today we rarely see pictures such as these. Pictures in which, without a caption, we would be hard put to understand what was going on. Now that we know what the pictures show, what do we feel about them? What story do they tell about war, about the British army, about ourselves?

Susan Sontag argued that photography blunts morality and had an ‘analgesic‘ effect which numbs the onlooker to the point of indifference. Photographs of incidents from the ‘slaughter bench of history’, she argues, induce general pathos and sentiment, and promote a form of stupidity: shots of atrocities become familiar, then dull the senses and may corrupt them. Whatever the feelings aroused, she argues, photographs can never become the source of ethical or political knowledge.


:: collecting body parts in the desert - an exercise in hygiene not respect

:: bodies of British soldiers, on the other hand, are flown back to Britain for a 'miltary' burial.