Thanks Roger, good thoughts. I'm in the middle of writing a short essay on war photography and some of the paradoxes outlined in Sontag's Regarding the Pain of Others (caution: ugly images) and evaluating it in the light of the sorts of cognitive-evolutionary analysis done by researchers such as Marc Hauser at Harvard.
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks
Basically, I think that Sontag over-interprets the failures and frustrations of war photography in its apparent inability to halt war altogether. Researchers like Hauser et al, while not studying photography directly, reveal the crucial connection for human morality (which functions at a low level with strong universality, regardless of culture) and the importance of seeing people. Sight, and by extension photography, is (to my delight) a strong moralizing, humanizing force - far stronger than words.
Conservative/liberal left/right politics aside, I personally cannot think of many (any?) visual artists of any merit who are pro-war, even in the presence of great direct threat (Goya and Picasso come to mind as artists who were clearly threatened but whose images did not advocate violence against their self-declared enemies).