Photographer Richard Mosse has a terrific trail of images from Iraq of the United States’ occupation of Saddam Hussein’s imperial palaces.  It has always bothered me seeing US troops living large on Saddam’s legacy of largesse, and now, after seeing Mosse’s photographs, I understand the why of the disconcerting disconnect.

If we, the USA, are supposed to be liberators — and if we are supposed to stand against Saddam and everything meant to his repressed Iraqi citizens — why are we living in his palaces and taking over his semiotic role as royal dictator?

We should have left every palace as rubble.  We should not be playing basketball in Saddam’s homes.

We should not be working out by Saddam’s empty pool.

We should not be cooking American BBQ on any balcony that Saddam once used to look down on his people.

The semiotic message these images of Americans in Saddam’s palaces send to the world is that we replaced Saddam:  You are rid of him; but now you’re stuck with us.

Obama needs to instruct ever solider to move out of Saddam’s palaces and either destroy the buildings or make them into public spaces for the good people of Iraq who have already suffered enough under a pretentious, and deadly, dictatorial thumb.


  1. I agree that the palace should be completely destroyed and, in fact, homes for the people should be built in its place – or perhaps a happy medium can be found and it can be turned into an apartment complex? (Still for the people, of course.)

  2. That’s exactly right, Gordon. Let the people have the land and the free housing. I know early on after the invasion there was some mention of the palaces being in safe zones and that they were already highly secure — but we’ve been there long enough that we should be able to guarantee our safety without having to use a dead man’s leftovers.

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