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November 13, 2006

How Much The American Government Cares About American Troops

For Veterans Day Dan Froomkin ran an excerpt from Operation Homecoming, a collection of 100 accounts by American troops of their experiences in Iraq. The excerpt was by Sharon D. Allen, a sergeant in the Ohio Army National Guard, describing her camp's nightly discussions of why Bush sent them to Iraq:

Along with the whole question of mixing faith and politics, we're also dealing with a schismatic religion and people who loathe one another. A Sunni won't even use a toilet after a Shiite has. Now we want them to work together to create a new system of law? Then you throw in the Kurds, who are mainly Christian, of an entirely different culture, and whose claim to fame is that their mere existence is the one thing that brings the Sunnis and Shiites together. The Muslims and Kurds hate each other with a bloodthirsty passion most of us cannot even conceive.

This makes you wonder why the U.S. government can't give American troops a DVD or a comic book or SOMETHING that would give them basic information about Iraq—such as, for instance, Kurds are largely Sunni Muslim with a few Shia and very few Christians mixed in. Beyond the fact it's just polite to take an interest in a country you've invaded, knowing who people are is a big help if you want to kill fewer of them and/or have them kill fewer of you.

UPDATE: En Ming Hee brings up World War II's "How to Spot a Jap". So on second thought, maybe it would be best just to let this concept die quietly on the vine.

Posted at November 13, 2006 10:58 AM | TrackBack

Well cuz the last time they tried doing that, this was the result:

Posted by: En Ming Hee at November 13, 2006 11:02 AM

As Sunnis and Shia intermarry all the time (my sister in law is married to an Iraqi - she's Egyptian Sunni but now sort of Shia in practice after 30 years of marriage - he is Shia) the toilet thing is demonstrably wrong and this woman sounds like she just memorized the most stupid and basic racist points from the Arab Mind by Patai (which I understand all US interrogators were given as background).

Posted by: Anna in Portland (was Cairo) at November 13, 2006 11:07 AM

I think I read somewhere a couple of years ago about the local workers not being allowed to share toilets with the liberators. I'm sure it has nothing to do with fear and loathing, just a reflection of the natural order.

Posted by: abb1 at November 13, 2006 11:52 AM

Fascinating bit of useless trivia: as well as "Terry and the Pirates," Milt Caniff wrote and drew a strip called "Steve Canyon," about a heroic Korean War pilot. He lost the strip because he sent the character to Vietnam and kept his adventures there going long after the war was no longer popular.

Posted by: Sully at November 13, 2006 03:22 PM

How Much the Troops Care About the American Government:

Marines’ Reaction to the News: ‘Who’s Rumsfeld?’

Posted by: dmceleven at November 13, 2006 09:08 PM

Jonathan, I'm so surprised that you would make the common mistake of stating that the Kurds aren't Christian. I remember old Professor Ralph Peters - quite a colorful old codger - back at Stutts, who proved that Kurds were secretly Christian. Not only that - they were secretly Southern Baptist Christians who, like American Southern Baptists in General, recognized the prophetic office of Ronald Reagan and the holy function of the free and unregulated market. On his new map of the Middle East, I believe he put the Kurds together with the Eyetalians as races that, while inferior at the moment, have every chance of being as white as the Japanese and those wonderful orientals from Hong Kong.

I wouldn't want to dispute the point with professor Peters - he's so ferociously learned. Why he's read every issue of the Weekly Standard from cover to cover since it started! I don't think anybody in the International affairs department - Professor Feith, Professor Libby, etc. - could compete with him.

Posted by: roger at November 13, 2006 11:13 PM

The worst part of it is, Saddam knows where Hoffa is buried. That's the real reason the Kurds hate the union-bustin' no-good Sunnis. Or maybe it's the union-bustin' Shias.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at November 14, 2006 02:22 AM