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May 25, 2009

To Know and Not To Know

By: Bernard Chazelle

Heard on NPR (paraphrased):

You expressed your disappointment with the Iraqis. Can you say more?

We'd give candy to this boy, and return to our vehicles. And then he'd throw stones at us.

OK, we killed his mom, humiliated his dad, detained his brother, and crippled his uncle. But what about those delicious Mars bars! Doesn't that count for something?

— Bernard Chazelle

Posted at May 25, 2009 07:45 PM
OK, we killed his mom, humiliated his dad, detained his brother, and crippled his uncle. But what about those delicious Mars bars! Doesn't that count for something?

I think they annoyance is rooted is something a whole lot simpler. He didn't have the courtesy to stay bought for the price of the mars bar.

Posted by: angryman@24:10 at May 25, 2009 09:03 PM

i never say no when an armed man offers me candy

Posted by: hapa at May 25, 2009 09:18 PM

Was that the Fresh Air segment with Donovan Campbell? He actually did seem like an exemplary person, but you're right that the takeaway from the interview is that the Iraqis are monstrously ungrateful.

The low point for me was when he claimed we don't torture and Terri didn't challenge him, though he was understandably crying so much that he was essentially untouchable. If she had contradicted him, she'd be fired for being a hippy bully.

Posted by: Carl at May 25, 2009 09:36 PM

Carl: Could well be. It was today. I caught the segment for only 2 minutes in the car, so I have no idea of the context. What struck me was not whether the soldier was a decent guy or a jerk (I couldn't tell) but the incredible cognitive dissonance.

Those guys know tons of stuff about war. But there's one single bit that matters. That any normally constituted human being would get. And they don't get it. That's what's astonishing.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at May 25, 2009 10:11 PM

Well, you know, that's the way it is with candy-dispensing liberators, and the attitude comes straight from the top:

‘It’s important to have someone who’s willing to stand up and thank the American people for their sacrifice in liberating Iraq. I don’t expect us to pick a ‘yes’ man. But at least I want someone who will be grateful.”

George W. Bush to Paul Bremer, quoted in My Year in Iraq, Paul Bremer and Malcolm McConnell (2006) at 359.

Posted by: Not Exactly at May 25, 2009 10:14 PM

Sure, you can give them candy. But watching then run for a bottle of water is even more fun.

Posted by: SteveB at May 25, 2009 10:21 PM

I'm reminded of that interview with George W. in which he stated that he was concerned with whether the Iraqis were grateful for the US toppling Saddam. Apparently if they're grateful there's less need for us to feel guilty about sundry less agreeable aspects of the occupation, or even think about them.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at May 26, 2009 01:09 AM

Perhaps George was suspicious of ALL those Arabs shooting back. Shooting less = more gratitude, surrender and submition = just the bestest gratitudness, WE got ALL the oil = Mission Accomplished. Easy as 1-2-3.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at May 26, 2009 02:44 AM

Carl: what was this Campell fellow crying about?

Posted by: Jenny at May 26, 2009 04:31 AM

I have a t-shirt that says "World domination goes better with Coke!" This story reminds me of that shirt.-Tony

Posted by: tony at May 26, 2009 08:22 AM

Achilles wept.

Posted by: Oarwell at May 26, 2009 09:36 AM

Campbell sounded like the high-minded epitome of a military leader.

He wept real tears at the death of one of his soldiers.

That said, however, He never seems to have doubted, questioned, or criticized the war that killed that kid...

Posted by: Woody at May 26, 2009 12:23 PM