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A Short Guide to Iraq, Anno 1943

what did the 2003 Guide tell our soldiers?

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, June 20, 2007.

The United States has spent an ungodly amount of money to badly construct its new Embassy in Baghdad. Baghdad is in Iraq, where they speak Arabic, mostly. A grand total of 1000 people are now employed there, 200 of which are foreign service professionals. Still, all would be for naught if none of the 1000 spoke Arabic, or could read it, and because this is our largest and most expensive embassy, how many would you guess employed there can converse well with the locals in a time of war?

Recall, this is the Bush administration, where political correctness and proper resumes of tongue bathing the President counts the most. In a State Department press briefing today, the question was asked: “How many Arabic speakers with 3/3 levels of proficiency are currently serving at Embassy Baghdad?” A 3/3 is a general professional fluency level in reading and speaking. So, including the Ambassador, Ryan Crocker, it seems we have a grand total of ten (10) Foreign Service Officers at Embassy Baghdad at or above the 3 level in Arabic. Fortunately, an additional five personnel at Embassy Baghdad have tested at or above the 3 level in speaking. But not in reading. This isn’t forgivable in the Pentagon, but this is our State Department.

It was not always so. Once upon a time, the United States was rather awesome in its common sense, its competence, its basic honesty. In 1943, while fighting Hitler, a Short Guide to Iraq was prepared as a booklet for American soldiers stationed there. Allow me to read part of it to you, and tell you if you feel like biting a radiator when Bush compares himself to FDR again, I understand.

Quote: As a soldier your duties are laid out for you. As an individual, it is what you do on your own that counts — and it may count for a lot more than you think. 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.

Handshaking in Iraq is considered an important part of good manners. You will be greeted with a handshake on every occasion that you meet an Iraqi …. But do not touch or handle an Iraqi in any other way. Do not wrestle him in fun, and don’t slap him on the back. Any such contact is offensive to his idea of good manners. Above all never strike an Iraqi.

Moslems do not let other people see them naked.

Remember that the Iraqi are a very modest people and avoid any exposure of the body in their presence.

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

The 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, excel him 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!

But you will also find out quickly that the Iraqi is one of the most cheerful and friendly people in the world. Few people you have seen get so much fun out of work and everyday living.

You aren’t going to Iraq to change the Iraqis. Just the opposite. We are fighting this war to preserve the principle of “Live and let live.”

Right now Iraq is threatened with invasion — as America is now. The Iraqis have some religious and tribal differences themselves. Hitler has been trying to use those differences to his own ends.

Iraq has great military importance for its oil fields, with their pipelines to the Mediterranean Sea. Yes, Iraq is a hot spot in more ways than one.

Don’t stare at anyone who is praying, and above all do not make fun of him. Respect his religion as he will respect yours.

Moslems here are divided into two factions something like our division into Catholic and Protestant denominations — so don’t put in your two cents when Iraqis argue about religion.

There are also political differences in Iraq that have puzzled diplomats and statesmen. You won’t help matters any by getting mixed up in them.

Above all, use common sense on all occasions. And remember that every American soldier is an unofficial ambassador of good will.

These are some general hints about manners. But the main thing is the SPIRIT of politeness and courtesy. If you show this, the Iraqis will understand and forgive any lapses you may make through not knowing their customs. END Quote

There was nothing valid then that is not valid now. What the hell have we willingly allowed the Bushies to do to us and our nation?