Archive for June, 2007

You Will Be Thrown Out, Probably With a Severe Beating

June 20, 2007

I just heard on ABC Nightly News (I switched over from a Simpsons rerun during a commercial) that an estimated 4 million Iraqis have fled their country to escape the violence and deprivation caused by the American invasion.

(I doubt we’ll be hearing from George Bush, Condi Rice or any of the presidential candidates pumping up the fact that some Iraqi women have been forced to turn to prostitution to provide for themselves and their families.)

The ENTIRE POPULATION of Iraq was about 4 million during WWII, when American troops were “ordered to Iraq (i-RAKH) as part of the world-wide offensive to beat Hitler”.

That’s according to A Short Guide to Iraq, published by the United States War and Navy Departments in 1943 and distributed to American GIs deployed to Iraq. The document was “for use of Military Personnel only” and “not to be republished, in whole or in part, without the consent of the War Department” (now called the “Department of Defense”).

Among other things the newly deployed American GI was to ponder while being airlifted by his government from Tupelo to Baghdad:

– “American success or failure in Iraq may well depend on whether the Iraqis (as the people are called) like American soldiers or not. It may not be quite that simple. But then again it could.”

– the Guide to Iraq was provided to him “so that [he] as a human being will get the most out of an experience few Americans have been lucky enough to have”.

– “Years from now you’ll be telling your children and maybe your grandchildren stories beginning, ‘Now when I was in Baghdad…’”.

– “That tall man in the flowing robe you are going to see soon, with the whiskers and the long hair, is a first-class fighting man, highly skilled in guerilla warfare. Few fighters in any country, in fact, excell him [sic] in that kind of situation. If he is your friend, he can be a staunch and valuable ally. If he should happen to be your enemy – look out!”

– the document accuses Hitler and “his back-stabbing allies, the Japs” of trying to take control of Iraq’s oil fields. It describes the Persian Gulf as “a back door to get supplies to our Russian allies. And even more, Iraq has great military importance for its oil fields, with their pipelines to the Mediterranean Sea.”

– In fact, “these fields and pipelines are among the richest prizes Hitler would like to grab…. Guarding or defending them may be among your most important military duties, for this oil is the source of supply for the armies of the Middle East and India, and also feeds the Mediterranean fleet.”

Only after these instructions is the soldier told about the Iraqi people and customs. The GI is offered this advice:

– “Keep away from mosques.” [emphasis in original]

– “There are four towns in Iraq which are particularly sacred to the Iraqi Moslems. These are Kerbala (ker-be-LAA), Nejef (NE-jef), Kadhiman (KAA-di-MAYN) (near Baghdad), and Samarra. Unless your ordered to these towns, it is advisable to stay away from them.”

– “The Moslems will immediately dislike you and there will be trouble if you do not treat women according to their standards and customs.”

– “Moslems do not let other people see them naked. … These things may seem trivial, but they are important if you want to get along well with the Iraqis.”

– If you violate any of these rules, “You will be thrown out, probably with a severe beating.”

[Editor’s note: I guess I can stop quoting the document. It goes on for another 20 pages. It’s all extraordinarily sage advice and truisms about what an American soldier might expect in Iraq, based upon the standards and opinions of the US War Department in 1943. I haven’t really read it all the way to the end, but I haven’t come across any advice about what type of reaction a soldier might expect from Iraqis if he invaded their country with what they perceive to be a Crusader army; blew up their most revered shrines; bombed their four holiest cities (and nearly every other city); jailed and tortured the people by the tens of thousands; killed or caused to be killed 650,000 or more of their friends and loved ones; raped and murdered their mothers and sisters; and tried to seize their “richest prizes”. Above all, I have not read anything that might indicate a major change in the customs and beliefs of Iraqis over the last 64 years that would render the advice in this manual moot.]