Abstract In March 2003 (the eve of Iraq's invasion), the George W. Bush Administration reissued, extended, and enforced a directive prohibiting the publication and broadcast of images and videos capturing the ritual repatriation of America's war dead. This directive (known as the Dover Ban) is exemplary of a wider set of more subtle processes and practices of American statecraft working to move suffering and dead American soldiers out of the American public eye. This is due, I argue, to dominant (government and military) bodies knowing, valuing, and counting generic soldier material as but a “precious resource” with which to fuel the Global War on Terror. However, my investigation into the (in)visibility of suffering and dead American soldiers since 9/11 reveals that subordinate yet challenging American bodies could not be stopped from knowing, valuing, and counting American soldiers differently—in life, injury, and death. Indeed, regarding American soldiers as grievable persons, the challenging actions discussed in this article demonstrate how Americans were moved to demand and take the right to count and account for soldiers’ suffering and deaths in public and in the very face of dominant bodies that “don't do body counts.” Everybody has values. However, different bodies value different bodies differently. Bodies that count—dearly to some bodies—will therefore go uncounted by others. In this article, I explore the politics of value and counting with regard to the (in)visibility of suffering and dead American soldiers since 9/11. As the following pages detail, I find discrepancies between dominant and challenging American bodies over the counting and value of American soldiers injured and killed in action (KIA), engendering intense and continuous contest throughout the Global War on Terror (GWoT). As a microcosmic site explicating what is at stake in this ongoing contest, my exploration begins with the Dover Ban. The Dover ceremony is a time-honored American ritual performed at the Air Force Base (AFB) in Dover, Delaware. Traditionally captured in photographs, featured in newspapers, and broadcast nationally on the network news, the Dover ceremony sees the dead bodies of soldiers KIA returned to American soil. In March 2003, however, on the eve of Iraq's invasion, the George W. Bush Administration reissued, extended, and enforced1 a Department of Defense (DoD) directive known as the Dover Ban. Working to prohibit the publication and broadcast of images and videos capturing any part of the process of the ritual repatriation of America's war dead, this directive states that “there will be no arrival ceremonies for, or media coverage of, deceased military personnel returning to or departing from Ramstein or Dover AFB, to include interim stops” (cited in Gran 2006, 6). Applicable to Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, which, by the end of March 2003, had over 134,000 pairs of American boots on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq combined,2 by 2017 the Dover Ban had disrupted the commemoration of 6,759 American soldiers.3 In this article, I demonstrate that the Dover Ban's 2003 reissue, extension, and enforcement are acts of American statecraft exemplifying a wider set of policies and practices working to move suffering and dead American soldiers out of the American public eye during the GWoT. I do this by detailing specific updates to Army body-disposal policies and repatriation practices that have worked to cleanse death and dying from American vocabulary and vision. I also explain how such practices materialized as soldier body parts being incinerated in bulk and dumped in a Virginia landfill by military subcontractors following the downing of a US Chinook in Afghanistan in August 2011. Moreover, I argue that such policies and practices—which contrast starkly with those enacted by normally allied and militarily aligned British bodies4—are the result of dominant contemporary American bodies’ (namely government and military) coming to know, value, and count American soldiers as but a “precious resource” (Shields 2003, par. 1) with which to fuel the geographically and temporally unbounded GWoT. However, what is puzzling is that the Dover Ban was lifted in 2009. My purpose in this article is therefore to analyze the processes and practices through which suffering and dead American soldiers moved not only out, but also back into, the public eye as the GWoT went on. I do this by scrutinizing a series of challenging actions, including an Army base ritual, two photography projects (Suzanne Opton's Soldiers Face and Ashley Gilbertson's Bedrooms of the Fallen), a 2004 public demonstration march by antiwar activists against the Dover Ban, and a 2009 contest between DoD and the Associated Press (AP) over the eventual publication of a photograph of fatally wounded soldier, Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard. I conclude by reflecting on the contemporary political significance of the ever-shifting and intensely contested value and visibility of suffering and dead American soldiers. To Whom Are American Soldiers Grievable? Presented in this article, my nuanced reading of the visual politics of suffering and dead American soldiers contributes to the literature on the politics of grief during the GWoT (Butler 2004 and 2009; Zehfuss 2009; Gregory 2012; Hutchison and Bleiker in Ahall and Gregory 2015) in three ways. I firstly problematize the notion of the eminently grievable characteristics of American soldier and civilian casualties5 versus those of uncounted and invisibilized enemy casualties of war (see Butler 2004; Gregory 2012; Zehfuss 2012). I secondly illustrate how competing dominant and subordinate bodies have contested the value and grievability of American soldiers injured and KIA in the GWoT. In particular, I draw on Sara Ahmed's work on The Cultural Politics of Emotion (2004) to argue that instead of cultivating feelings in common throughout the body politic6 (as the making visible of American civilian casualties have done since 9/117), dominant contemporary American bodies have worked to prevent an emotional politics touching, gripping, and moving the American populace toward grief and mourning. Preventative efforts discussed in this article include processes and practices of statecraft unvalorizing and removing suffering and dead American soldiers from the public eye. Thirdly, I argue that dominant contemporary American bodies have behaved as such due to unvaluing and uncounting soldiers’ uniquely human characteristics. These constitute what Jenny Edkins (2011) describes as “personhood,” blindness to which leads dominant bodies to regard American soldiers en masse as a material, albeit “precious,”8 resource with which to fuel the GWoT.9 Therefore, where Thomas Gregory (2012, 327) links the uncounting of civilian casualties to “the rhetoric of humanitarianism [which] operates to preclude Afghans from appearing as recognizable human beings,” I link the similar uncounting of suffering and dead American soldiers by dominant contemporary American bodies to soldiers’ ejection from the category of human by the alternate means of having been made into a generic war material. I add that dominant contemporary American bodies have therefore become increasingly blind to each of the KIA's uniquely grievable characteristics. However, building on Edkins’ (2011, viii) argument that personhood “always escapes categories or governance,” I contend that the challenging acts discussed in this article demonstrate how soldiers’ personhood remains visible to, and highly valued by, the American populace. Indeed, it is personhood that—eminently grievable—leads subordinate American bodies to call for the counting, accounting, and commemoration of suffering and dead American soldiers throughout the GWoT. American Soldier: Carefully (State) Crafted and Continually Contested Here again is Marine Sergeant Wilkins, just as he was on the flight from Afghanistan: unconscious, sedated, intubated, and encased in a vacuum spine board. The doctor tells me that the staff at LRMC removed Wilkins's breathing tube, but they had to put it back. He remains in cold storage, like some pod-person in a sci-fi film. You can hardly see him in there, inside the black plastic pod. You can't determine if he is alive or dead without looking at the little needles on the dials of the machines on the SMEED. Are they wavering? Hard to tell. (Jones 2013, 68) Evocative of Giorgio Agamben's (1998, 165) description of “the hospital room in which the neomort, the overcomatose person, and the faux vivant waver between life and death,” journalist Anne Jones’ account of one American soldier's journey home as a C-17’s cargo, illustrates the implication of statecraft in the necropolitical10 administration and management of soldiers’ deaths. However, even death brings no end to the crafting of American soldiers. Historically, the visible repatriation of America's war-wounded and dead has been a definitive and vitally significant feature of the American war story. Thus, due to their high body counts, Carolyn Marvin and David Ingle (1999, 87) declare the American Civil War and WWII “the two most ritually successful wars” because “when we all bleed, everyone is kin” (Marvin and Ingle 1999, 87). However, such national binding in grief can only occur if emotions are intensified in the atmosphere in between the bodies comprising a population11 to the point of making impressions upon and touching bodies (being felt). As Ahmed (2004, 34) explains, in order for bodies to be touched and moved by another's suffering, “such stories of pain must be heard.” However, what I explain in this section is a gradual trend away from such public binding and increasing contest over the (in)visibility of suffering and dead American soldiers from Vietnam onward. Given the vital significance of public repatriations, particular twentieth century events and geopolitical developments go some way toward explaining dominant contemporary American bodies’ efforts to deny the sight of suffering and dead American soldiers. Most significantly, having made their business the material making of war, dominant contemporary American bodies came to increasingly rely upon it. For example, and despite the mobilization of the America First12 committee against American entry into WWII, the 1939 outbreak of war in Europe saw the thorough militarization of the American economy, the creation of millions of American jobs, and US unemployment falling to an all-time low of 1.2 percent in 1944.13 In addition to this, immunity from the air raids plaguing Europe gave American manufacturers the opportunity to transform resources into war materials of all kinds. However, as the twentieth century progressed, subordinate American bodies comprising the American body politic increasingly contested the militarized logic of dominant contemporary American bodies and questioned its human toll. Known as the “living-room war” (Arlen 1997) due to how it became the first war made visible inside American homes, the Vietnam War was found highly newsworthy by the American media and became the first war during which Americans could watch the caskets containing the bodies of the war dead being returned home, live in Technicolor. Dead American soldiers were, as Scott Tyson and Berman (2009) describe it, “rolling off planes at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii as if off a conveyor belt.” Indeed, as the Vietnam War dragged on, the sight of dead American soldiers worked to move the American population from a pro- to antiwar stance. For example, with “immediate and visceral” (Cosgrove 2014, par. 2) consequences, Life Magazine devoted ten pages and its June 1969 front cover to “The Faces of the American Dead in Vietnam: One Week's Toll.” Coinciding with the ever-increasing growth of the anti-Vietnam War movement,14Life’s justification for the publication of “One Week's Toll” was that “we must pause to look into the faces. More than we must know how many, we must know who. The faces of one week's dead, unknown but to families and friends, are suddenly recognized by all” (quoted in Cosgrove 2014, par. 5). Here, Life’s logic elucidates a desire to make unique and grievable persons visible throughout America. Indeed, in the following (Life June 1969, 20) issue, the readers’ comments section revealed the extent to which Americans were touched and moved by the sight of one week's toll. Moreover, being moved as such entailed readers questioning the United State's continued involvement in Vietnam and, in particular, its human cost. Such comments include: “I cried for those Southern black soldiers. What did they die for? Tar paper shacks, malnutrition, unemployment and degradation?” . . . “While looking at the photographs I was shocked to see the smiling face of someone I used to know. He was only 19 years old. I guess I never realized that 19-year-olds have to die.” (quoted in Cosgrave 2014, par. 5) There is extensive debate over the extent to which such casualty sensitivity amongst the populace leads to casualty aversion by dominant bodies.15 However, with the limited Gulf War deployment,16 President Barack Obama's light footprint military doctrine,17 and the more recent hesitation and eventual covering over of American troop deployment to Syria by the President Donald Trump administration,18 the Dover Ban and associated policies and practices discussed in this article are understood as an alternative strategy of American death erasure rather than American death avoidance by dominant bodies with interests in public opinion and electoral popularity. This is especially because contests over the Gulf War—including the New York Times’ direct challenge to the decision to deploy even lightly19—illustrate that even light deployments do not prevent such sensitivity and sentiment. As I have characterized them, dominant contemporary American bodies—increasingly reliant upon war and its making—cannot risk, abide, or afford casualty sensitivity and antiwar sentiment spreading throughout the body politic. Thus, further in keeping with the hypothesis that casualty sensitivity leads to casualty aversion, and expecting American casualties orders of magnitude higher than were actually accrued during the ground campaign,20 the original Dover Ban was introduced on February 2, 1991 (sixteen days after the commencement of Operation Desert Storm). However, the ban went unenforced. The Gulf War's conclusion became the last time the broadcast of Dover ceremonies for the KIA, and the ritual and visible return and parading of living and wounded soldiers through cities across the United States, marked an American war's end. As I explain in the following section, the visual politics of suffering and dead American soldiers engendered by dominant contemporary American bodies during the GWoT is in stark contrast. Missing in Death “You know, we don't do body counts.” —General Tommy Franks (quoted in Antelava 2009, par. 1) Made as commander of Operation Enduring Freedom, General Tommy Franks’ above cited statement—though referring to Afghan civilian casualties—exemplifies the attitude of dominant contemporary American bodies toward suffering and dead American soldiers throughout the GWoT: they go uncounted. However, this is not to say that soldiers have become worthless to the US Government and Army. Quite the opposite, with Auchter (2016b, par. 3) arguing that “how the dead are counted and assigned value matters just as much as which dead bodies are counted.” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Hugh Shelton's description of American soldiers as “our most precious resource” (cited in Shields 2003, par. 1), speaks directly to Nicolas Rose's (2007, 39) posthuman argument that, within contemporary advanced capitalist/neoliberal political economies, bodily matter is increasingly commodified as it is “extracted like a mineral, harvested like a crop, or mined like a resource.” Moreover, Shelton's description reveals that American soldiers as a generic material retain great value in the eyes of dominant contemporary American bodies, as a most precious resource with which to fuel the GWoT. Most crucially however, during the GWoT, such uncounting and remaking of American soldiers (as a precious resource in the eyes of dominant bodies) became fleshed out as updated Army repatriation, disposal, and commemoration practices. Detailed below, such processes and practices provide examples of acts of statecraft working—on top of the Dover Ban—to render invisible suffering and dead American soldiers during the GWoT. President George W. Bush did not attend the funeral of a single American soldier KIA in Iraq21 and only ever referred to American casualties in general terms,22 not counting and therefore failing to take into account—or account for—the suffering and deaths of American soldiers. Even the terminology used by the White House and DoD to refer to dead American soldiers—the fallen—denies that death has occurred and therefore works to erase American death. As a discursive formation, the fallen also works to conflate dead American soldiers, and, in doing so, denies them as unique and grievable persons. Jones (2013, 60) similarly reports that “the word ‘dying’ is never mentioned to the family” of catastrophically and fatally injured soldiers in military hospitals. These linguistic choices illustrate how dominant contemporary American bodies have worked to elide suffering and dead American soldiers throughout the GWoT. However, it is not only from language that suffering and dead American soldiers have been erased. The logic of dominant contemporary American bodies has also materialized as policies and practices working to physically remove from vision and destroy the bodies of American soldiers KIA—making them less visible to the American public eye. For example, in 2003, Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy admitted that planes returning wounded soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq to DC's Joint Base Andrews (from where they would be taken on to Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre for treatment) were scheduled to land under the cover of darkness, thus “making sure the press does not see the planes coming in with the suffering” (cited in Buncome 2003, par. 4). Similarly, Jones (2013, 33) finds that at the US Army's Bagram Air Base, “the suffering are carried into the hospital by the back door.” Here, the rescheduling of aircraft and rerouting of ambulances carrying America's war wounded and dead are acts exemplifying the determination of dominant contemporary American bodies to keep suffering and dead American soldiers out of sight. Moreover, what replaced the Dover ceremony after its 2003 ban (a procedure known as the “dignified transfer”) illustrates the further implications of the uncounting of America's war dead since 9/11. Carried out “as quickly as possible” (Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations 2017, par. 3), during dignified transfers it is not bodies but the remains of the KIA that are collected up and sealed inside a human remains pouch before being placed inside a transfer case and transfer vehicle (Air Force Mortuary 2017, par. 3). Providing another example of American statecraft working to keep soldier suffering and death out of sight, these shifts in lexicon—from “body” to “remains,” from “body bag” to “human remains pouch,” from “memorial ceremony” to “dignified transfer,” from “casket” to “transfer case,” and from “hearse” to “transfer vehicle”—amount to the erasure of dead American soldiers and of death itself from the official narrative of war. Further illustrating the increasingly rapid and focused work of dominant contemporary American bodies to make those KIA less visible is the government and army's response to the downing of a US Army Chinook helicopter in Wardak, Afghanistan, in 2011. Shot down while carrying thirty American soldiers, including fifteen Navy SEALs, the incident became the largest single American loss since Operation Enduring Freedom began in October 2001. Much like the bodies of those who died inside the World Trade Center on 9/11—which went missing due to the intensity of the impact and heat causing an obscene “conflation of boundaries” (Edkins 2011, 19)—the Chinook's crash landing left the dead bodies of those on board indistinguishable from one another and the rest of the debris. As Jones (2013, 168) explains, “their bodies were so conjoined in death with the wreckage of that Chinook that, as the President later explained to their families, the remains of individual men could not be separated out.” However, providing a stark contrast to the painstaking efforts to forensically identify each and every last piece of each and every last civilian killed on 9/11,23 the Washington Times reports that, without familial consent, all bodily remains salvaged from the crash site were incinerated in bulk on the orders of “senior US military officials” (Kuhner 2013, par. 6). However, the mass incineration of dead American soldiers and body parts from the Chinook crash was not an isolated incident. Indeed, in 2011, the air force admitted that, between 2004 and 2008, 976 dead soldier body parts belonging to 274 persons KIA were incinerated at the Dover's Charles C. Carson Centre for Mortuary Affairs before being passed to a Private Military Contractor (PMCs) that dumped them in a Virginia landfill.24 At the same time, it was revealed that air force morticians had “lost a dead soldier's ankle and . . . sawed off a Marine's arm so his body would fit in his casket” (Whitlock and Jaffe 2011, par. 12). Such disposal practices are at absolute odds with traditional military burials and commemoration practices as exemplified by the Dover Ceremony. As discussed above, historically the return of wounded and dead American soldiers has been seen and felt throughout the body politic. However, on their return to American soil (and despite the Dover Ban's partial lift in 2009), there were no Dover ceremonies held for the thirty KIA in the downed Chinook, while the media were banned from attending or covering the dignified transfers at all. Moreover, the practices discussed within this section illustrate how dead soldiers KIA have been treated as literally disposable25 by dominant contemporary American bodies, regarding them as nothing more than an expendable resource and war material. Thus, where Auchter (2014, 31) argues that “what is done with dead bodies is a key part of identity,” the unnaming and refusal to identify the bodies of those KIA in the downed Chinook provides a further example of the materialization of the logic of dominant contemporary American bodies. Indeed, the Chinook case illustrates how “a politics of the what, not the who” (Edkins 2011, 9) becomes fleshed out. In this case, dominant contemporary American bodies’ failure to count or account for personhood materialized as the disposal of bodily, soldier-derived war material in the same manner as nonhuman battlefield waste and debris disposal: as uncommemorated landfill. Suffering and Dead Soldiers Appear “That which is dumped as trash emerges to haunt us, demanding justice.” —Jenna Brager (2015, par. 14) As I have illustrated so far, throughout the GWoT, dominant contemporary American bodies have worked increasingly determinedly to move suffering and dead American soldiers out of the American public eye. The KIA were dumped as trash in landfills by military bodies uncounting and unvaluing of personhood and their regarding soldiers’ physical bodies as a generic—albeit precious—material resource with which to fuel the GWoT. As an example of what Gregory (2016, 7) describes as “exclusionary violence,” the practices and processes of statecraft discussed thus far materialized in forms including speech acts, policies, regulations, directives, and practices working to depersonalize and make the wounded and KIA less visible to the American public eye. However, following Auchter (2014, 170) to understand statecraft as a process that is “never fully and finally completed,” opportunities to challenge its (de)ontologizing work to make and move bodies and things (including soldiers and wars) are possible. Within this section, I therefore turn to appraise the efforts of subordinate bodies and find low-ranking US Army personnel and artists/photographers working to move suffering American soldiers and the KIA back into the American public eye. In the US Army, there is a ritual whereby, after the death of a soldier KIA, their enlistment photograph—a standardized headshot taken in uniform in front of the Star Spangled Banner—is stuck up on base. Jones (2013, 8) comments on the particular dynamic of (in)visibility at play in this ritual, saying that “while the nondescript official photo is mounted on the wall, the actual body of the ‘fallen’ soldier is gathered up and carried away.” As I have illustrated above, throughout the GWoT, dominant American bodies have gone to great lengths to conceal the transportation, repatriation, and disposal of dead soldiers KIA as a means to prevent their commemoration. However, through the act of sticking up a photograph of the KIA on notice boards, Army colleagues demonstrate their alternate desire to pay a personal tribute, by making visible in public the face of the one they knew. These soldiers’ gesture therefore provides the first example of a practice enacted by subordinated bodies that challenges dominant bodies’ uncounting of soldiers’ personhood, by making visible and encouraging the commemoration of American soldiers KIA. Providing a second example, artist and photographer Suzanne Opton's nine Soldiers Face billboards do the same on a larger scale (see Figure 1). Selected by Opton from an archive of photographs of over ninety American soldiers taken at Fort Drum in between tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, Opton's images make American soldiers visible not only to military colleagues but to the wider American public.26 Furthermore, described by viewers as “haunting . . . shell shocked . . . terribly vulnerable” (cited in Casper 2016, par. 3), the soldiers’ faces photographed by Opton challenge the American soldiers’ generic warrior identity so carefully crafted by dominant contemporary American bodies. This is achieved by bringing the traumatic violence of war (normally unseen and unfelt by the American public eye) decidedly into the frame. Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Soldier, by Suzanne Opton.36 Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Soldier, by Suzanne Opton.36 A further photographic series working to challenge the attempted invisibilization of suffering and dead American soldiers during the GWoT is Ashley Gilbertson's Bedrooms of the Fallen. This photo series, exhibited widely, featured in the American news-media and published as a book,27 depicts the empty bedrooms of forty soldiers KIA in Afghanistan and Iraq—the equivalent of a single platoon (see Figure 2). Furthermore, in the book Gilbertson captions each photograph similarly and simply, with details akin to those normally found on a traditional graveyard headstone (the name, age, date, and place of death of each soldier KIA). The photographs themselves are presented uniformly—shot on black and white film and taken with a panoramic camera and an extreme wide-angle lens “so that the viewer could digest as much of the detail as possible” (Gilbertson 2014, 88). It is, however, what these photographs do not show that makes them so very relevant toward my aim in this section (to highlight and analyze practices challenging the attempted invisibilization of suffering and dead American soldiers discussed thus far). Figure 2. View largeDownload slide Bedroom of the fallen Marine Corporal Christopher G Sherer, 21, from East Northport, New York. KIA by a sniper on July 21, 2007, in Karmah, Iraq, by Ashley Gilbertson.37 Figure 2. View largeDownload slide Bedroom of the fallen Marine Corporal Christopher G Sherer, 21, from East Northport, New York. KIA by a sniper on July 21, 2007, in Karmah, Iraq, by Ashley Gilbertson.37 Gilbertson's photographs do not show dead American soldiers and, in this way, seemingly present no challenge to the aforementioned efforts of dominant bodies to move them out of sight. However, by keeping bodies out of the frame, Gilbertson's images follow and exaggerate the dynamic of (in)visibility engendered by practices and processes of American statecraft working to make those KIA since 9/11 invisible and, in doing so, present their challenge. This is because Gilbertson's photographs, while not showing the dead soldier, make each soldier's unique and uniquely human qualities (their personhood) visible through the foregrounding of personal things including books, magazines, band posters, DVDs, baseball cap collections, and dirty laundry. Thus, where Gilbertson (2014, 87) recalls his wife Joanne agreeing that “you need to humanize them, to show us that they were people first, kids even, before they were soldiers,” Bedrooms of the Fallen works to challenge practices and processes of American statecraft by evoking and inviting commemoration of the irreplaceable and grievable persons KIA. In short, while the body itself remains invisible, Bedrooms of the Fallen makes each unique person knowable and visible—glaringly so. What Bedrooms of the Fallen also reveals and shows is the very lack of bodies produced by the practices of statecraft discussed above as, in omitting bodies from the frame, Gilbertson exaggerates the lack, making it the unpictured object of each photograph. In this way, the bedrooms photographed by Gilbertson—and in turn Gilbertson's photographs—are haunted by their former inhabitants and thus exemplify the argument made by Avery Gordon that “that which appears absent can indeed be a seething presence” (Gordon 2011, 17). Bodies Moving In addition to the challenging actions discussed so far, in March 2004 a collective formed of military families and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) gathered in Dover, Delaware, to specifically challenge the DoD's Directive. They would march from the AFB to the White House via the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to protest the ban. The lead organizing group, Military Families Speak Out, stated that the purpose of their march was as “a memorial procession for mourning and truth to pull back the veil, honour and mourn the dead and acknowledge the wounded” (quoted in Devereaux 2004). The coalition demanded that the President George W. Bush Administration “start telling the truth, stop hiding the toll” (Devereaux 2004). Jane Bright, the mother of twenty four year-old Evan Bright (a soldier KIA in July 2003), similarly told the AP that her personal motivation for joining the march was the belief that “we need to stop hiding the deaths of our young; we need to be open about their deaths” (cited in Toner 2004, 191). Providing further examples of subordinate bodies challenging the logic of dominant bodies, in these enunciations (in)visibility is repeatedly evoked as pulling back the veil and revealing the toll and are identified as the movement's motivations. Furthermore, the movement's march works to contest the boundary crafted around what can and can't be seen by the American public eye and, in doing so, begins to move it. In this case, commemoration of the dead KIA moved from private, invisible spaces and into the public. However, despite the challenges detailed above, the Dover Ban would persist until February 26, 2009 (after the election of President Obama, whose administration prioritized transparency from its outset28). On this date, then secretary of defense Robert Gates replaced the ban with a policy allowing the families of those KIA to decide whether or not to allow the news media to attend, photograph/film, and report their dead relatives’ dignified transfer.29 This policy shift conditionally allowing sight of the Dover Ban back into the public eye's sight is significant because it provides a most explicit example of a dominant contemporary American body (in this case DoD) being moved to update a policy due to contestation and challenges emerging from subordinate body parts comprising the American whole. Moreover, the policy update works, in turn, to move dead American soldiers back into the American public eye. However, Gates’ policy update is an exception to the rule, as through it only the dignified transfers of those KIA in either Operations Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom—not Operation Inherent Resolve and/or future operations—are made visible. As an additional limitation to the ban's lift, even when the KIA's next of kin does give their permission for the media to cover a repatriation, they (the KIA's families, etc.) are forbidden by the Army from speaking to journalists. Therefore, while the limit to what may be seen by the American public may have been formally renegotiated in part, the conditions attached to the Dover Ban's partial revoke reveal the determination of dominant contemporary American bodies to contain public grief and keep soldier deaths in the shadows. In the following section I detail how, since the Dover Ban's partial revoke in 2009, contestation over the visibility of dead American soldiers has not ceased but rather goes on and on. In particular, contest between AP and DoD over a photograph—of Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard—illustrates that the Dover Ban's revoke made dominant contemporary American bodies no less determined to keep suffering and dead American soldiers hidden. Conversely, other subordinate, yet challenging, bodies remain intent on counting and accounting for American soldiers’ suffering and deaths in public. Bodies in Contest over Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard “I am the Secretary of Defense and I am begging you not to run that picture.” —Robert (Gates 2014, 363) In September 2009, just six months after personally lifting the Dover Ban, Secretary Gates found himself calling and writing to the AP's then president and chief executive officer (CEO) Thomas Curley for the purpose of, in his own words (included above), begging the AP not to publish a photograph. Depicting twenty one-year-old Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard lying fatally wounded after being hit in the legs by a rocket propelled grenade in Dahaneh, Afghanistan, the photograph (see Figure 3) was taken by Julie Jacobson, an AP photographer embedded with the US Marines and published in the AP's Buffalo News30 on September 4, 2009. Within this section, I detail the significance of the photograph, the controversy surrounding it, and the movements its eventual publication engendered. Figure 3. View largeDownload slide Joshua Bernard, AP Photo/Julie Jacobson.38 Figure 3. View largeDownload slide Joshua Bernard, AP Photo/Julie Jacobson.38 For my purpose of exploring the processes and practices through which suffering and dead American soldiers have moved in and out of sight during the GWoT, the content of Jacobsen's photograph is significant in itself. This is because it places a suffering and bloody American soldier's body into the very center of the frame. In doing so, Jacobsen's photograph of Bernard is emotionally disturbing and disturbing of the (state)crafted American soldier (re)made by dominant contemporary American bodies as generic warriors.31 Jacobsen's photograph disturbs in these ways because it alternatively reveals the absolute vulnerability and precariousness of a soldier's body and makes Bernard's pain public. Thus, adding in his letter to Curley that the photograph should be suppressed because “those of us who have not lost loved ones in war can never know what it feels like . . . I cannot imagine the pain and suffering Lance Corporal Bernard's death has caused his family” (Gates 2009, par. 3–4), Gates also divulges an underestimation of the American bodies discussed within this article. As the challenging images and actions discussed demonstrate, the population of bodies comprising the American body politic know each other as unique, irreplaceable, and grievable persons despite, and in spite of, the war hungry logic leading dominant contemporary American bodies to regard American solders as only war material. The challenging actions discussed in this article have demonstrated that what happens to one body does indeed affect another and that even apparently disparate bodies can become touched and moved by the war wounding and death of American soldiers. In addition to its contents and framing, the publication of Jacobsen's photograph is also significant due to its timing and the very specific military/political context out of which it emerged. To provide more detail, five weeks before Bernard's death, General Stanley McChrystal (at the time serving as the senior American commander in Afghanistan) updated the rules of engagement governing conduct in Afghanistan. These updated rules worked to limit the use of airstrikes and required US troops to break off combat when Afghan civilians were present, even if it meant letting the enemy escape.32 With Bernard's death occurring during what was by then the deadliest month in Afghanistan for American soldiers, McChrystal's updated rules were linked in public discourse to the ever-increasing war toll. Thus, in his justification for the AP's publication of Jacobson's photograph, Curley argues that “the American people needed to know what the strategy was, and we had been looking for some time to illustrate it. And the way you illustrate it is with the personalized version” (quoted in Gilsinan 2010, 16). Thus, in being explicitly linked by the AP to the ever-increasing American toll of the GWoT, the image of Bernard works as an interruption of normally invisibilized soldier personhood in the American public eye. On its eventual publication in the Buffalo News, Jacobsen's photograph was captioned as follows: In this photo taken Friday, Aug. 14, 2009, Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard is tended to by fellow U.S. Marines after being hit by a rocket propelled grenade during a firefight against the Taliban in the village of Dahaneh in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. Bernard was transported by helicopter to Camp Leatherneck where he later died of his wounds. (Allen 2009, par. 10) This framing, like the short captions accompanying Gilbertson's photographs in Bedrooms of the Fallen, further encourages public feelings and the commemoration of a unique person killed. Moreover, the Buffalo News offers a narrative counter to the depersonalized and death-cleansed story of war provided by dominant contemporary American bodies throughout the GWoT. Conclusion “ain't no grave can hold my body down”33 On December 21, 2015, six American soldiers were KIA when a suicide bomb detonated inside Bagram AFB. Its wearer had ridden a motorcycle on to the base and died along with two American civilians and one Afghan when the bomb detonated. Providing a stark contrast to the stories I have told and the photographs I have discussed within this article, and again to illustrate the unending contestation over the (in)visibility of suffering and dead American soldiers, these soldiers’ deaths were publicly mourned in two elaborate memorial ceremonies featured widely within the American and international mainstream news media.34 Exemplary of a stark divergence from the updated rituals of soldier body disposal discussed within this article, at the Bagram ceremony a photograph of each soldier's face was displayed and accompanied an empty pair of desert boots and a helmet propped on top of a gun. Here, reminiscent of the dynamic of (in)visibility at play within Gilbertson's photographs of Bedrooms of the Fallen, the objects on display during the 2015 Bagram ceremony invoke the very flesh and bones of the dead soldier—with the gun standing in by having the soldiers’ helmet balanced upon it. Indeed, since each photograph displayed by the Army was a personal photograph rather than the standard issue Army enlistment headshot, on top of invoking the material body, the Army also make visible, and in doing so invite commemoration of, each unique person KIA. Finally, on their repatriation to New Castle AFB, in scenes reminiscent of the original Dover ceremony, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Air Force Secretary Deborah James not only attended, but with stony faces made the military hand salute as the six flag-draped coffins were unloaded from a military aircraft carrier, carried across the tarmac, and placed into waiting hearses by uniformed American soldiers. These televised and touching scenes, to which the American public bore witness, reveal the GWOT's American toll, cultivate grief, and invite commemoration throughout the American body politic. With my initial interest in this case sparked by the Dover Ban's puzzling revoke, my analysis of the (in)visibility of suffering and dead American soldiers throughout the GWoT has underlined the status of injured, as well as living and dead bodies,35 as social and political actors. I have done this by drawing attention to the often overlooked, yet performative, lively, and ontologically insecure human body in life, injury, and death. Moreover, the case presented has shown that, marking the very limit of the visible in the contemporary American context, suffering and dead American soldiers have time and again forced moments of politics due to being known, counted, and making other bodies feel differently. Indeed, through the Dover Ban's partial revoke, in 2009 the parameter of what can(/not) be seen by the American public's eye was successfully renegotiated by subordinate yet challenging bodies contesting the (re)making of American soldiers as a war material and precious resource and working to visibilize each uniquely grievable person injured and KIA. My discussion of the rival acts mounted has therefore also intervened in debates over the efficacy of the American anti-war movement (Pershing and Yocom 1996; Butterworth and Moskal 2009; Mangahan 2011). As the actions discussed show, regardless of the challenging impetus to make suffering and dead American soldiers visible, the public sight of suffering and dead American soldiers works to move bodies comprising the American body politic toward commemoration, counting, and attempts to account for soldier suffering and death. Therefore, and while it has been beyond the scope of this article to gauge the American public's opinions on ongoing US military operations, the empirical examples discussed suggest that being moved as such involves at least questioning the cost and value of war—its human toll in particular. Acknowledgements I would like to thank IPS's editors and its anonymous reviewers, Jessica Auchter, Victoria Basham, Madeline Carr, and Natasha Danilova for their thoughtful comments on previous versions of this article. Sincere thanks are also due to Suzanne Opton, Ashley Gilbertson, and Julie Jacobson/AP for granting me permission to include their photographs. Footnotes 1 The original Dover Ban was issued on February 2, 1991 (sixteen days after the commencement of Operation Desert Storm) by the DoD, acting under former secretary of defense Dick Cheney. The 2003 reissued ban extends the reach of the initial ban, including “interim stops” such as AFB Rammstein, Germany. 2 See the New York Times’ “American Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq” infographic at http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/06/22/world/asia/american-forces-in-afghanistan-and-iraq.html. 3 See DoD casualty figures as of January 1, 2017 at http://www.defense.gov/casualty.pdf. 4 See Freeden (2011) on the UK's establishment of the elaborate and widely broadcast 2007–11 Wooton Bassett repatriation ceremonies and Zehfuss (2007) on the contrast between US DoD and the more personalized (and grievable) UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) soldier casualty listings. 5 See, for example, Butler (2004) on grievable versus ungrievable lives and Auchter (2014) on the national commemoration of 9/11’s American civilian victims. 6 I follow Stefanie Fishel (2017) to understand the body politic as comprised of lively and nested bodies. 7 See Simpson's 2006 (chapter 3) analysis of the New York Times’ “Portraits of Grief” feature and both Simpson (2006) and Auchter (2014a) on the processes through which Ground Zero became sacralized, hallowed ground from, and the focal point of, national 9/11 memorialization. 8 While serving as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Hugh Shelton asked in 2000: “Is the American public prepared for the sight of our most precious resource coming home in flag draped caskets into Dover Air Force Base?” (cited in Shields 2003, par. 1). 9 Posthuman literature points to science and technology as a means to explain increasingly inhuman characteristics, including the unvaluing and uncounting of personhood described in this article. For example, Nicolas Rose (2001, 1) explains that biopolitics has become what he calls molecular politics because “the truth regimes of the life sciences have mutated,” while Melinda Cooper highlights “growing institutional alliances” (2006, 14) and “conceptual exchanges” (2006, 114) between American biomedical and biotech companies and government and military bodies. 10 In this article, I follow and build on Achille Mbembe (2003) by emphasizing how dominant contemporary American bodies’ necropolitical management and administration of death and ways of dying become shaded and shady as they are purposely obscured. 11 Teresa Brennan (2004, 1) describes affective phenomena as intersubjective, asking: “Is there anyone who has not, at least once, walked into a room and ‘felt the atmosphere’?” 12 Associated with nationalism and anti-interventionism/isolationism, the America First slogan has since been appropriated by Republicans, including President Trump (see Crowley 2017). 13 See Amadeo 2018. 14 Gallup polls measured that between June and October 1969 American disapproval of the Vietnam War rose from 30% to 58%. See Carroll 2004. 15 For literature on American public opinion and casualty sensitivity/aversion, see Mueller (1970 and 1973); Hallin (1986) on the Vietnam War; Mueller (1994) on the Gulf War; and Gelpi, Feaver, and Reifler (2006) on the GWoT. The main finding in this literature is that the number of casualties has not had a direct impact on US foreign policy decisions, with Gelpi et al. arguing that, with regard to the GWoT, the public perception of American “success” matters more. 16 The Gulf War saw only 148 American soldiers KIA and 467 wounded (see Marvin and Ingle 1999, 88). 17 Obama's light footprint strategy entails moving away from soldier deployment and toward increased drone warfare and contracting to private military contractors (see Krieg 2016). 18 See McIntyre 2017. 19 The New York Times’ front cover asked, “Is this worth dying for?” before Operation Desert Storm had begun on January 10, 1991. 20 See Broder 1991. 21 See Milbank 2005. 22 See DiMaggio 2015. 23 See Edkins 2011, chapter 5. 24 See Whitlock and Jaffe 2011. 25 See Giroux 2006. 26 Opton's Soldier Billboards appeared in eight US cities during 2008-2010. The project was sponsored by the Denver Contemporary Museum, Denver, CO; DiverseWorks, Houston, TX; The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta, GA; Forecast Public Art, Minneapolis, MN; SkyLab, Columbus, OH, Sanctuary for Independent Media, Troy, NY; DC metro stations. See http://www.soldiersface.com/. 27 As the sleeve to the 2014 book details, “Gilbertson's photographs have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Stern, and other publications. His work is included in collections of major museums throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia.” 28 On his first day in office, President Obama issued a “Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies” on “Transparency and Open Government”: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/TransparencyandOpenGovernment/. 29 See Bumiller 2009. 30 In addition to its publication in the Buffalo News, other American newspapers—including the Arizona Republic, the Washington Times and the Orlando Sentinel—ran other photos from Jacobson's series, while several newspaper websites—including the Akron Beacon-Journal and the St. Petersburg Times—published the image online. See http://www.politico.com/story/2009/09/gates-ap-decision-appalling-026759. 31 Thus, through a discursive shift occurring since 9/11, the US Army increasingly characterizes and refers to its soldiers as warriors. 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International Political Sociology – Oxford University Press
Published: May 23, 2018
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