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"Fruitless for the Americans, and humiliating for the Iraqis."
October 21, 2006 5:50 PM   Subscribe

On the ground with the 101st in Iraq, a video by photographer Sean Smith on the lives of US soldiers and their complex relationship with Iraqi civilians.
posted by bardic (35 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I saw that earlier, powerful stuff.
posted by delmoi at 5:57 PM on October 21, 2006 [1 favorite]


Good lord. Should be required viewing at all the schools. Nobody in America is covering this stuff.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:03 PM on October 21, 2006


Now this is good Iraqfilter. Kudos.
posted by dhammond at 6:06 PM on October 21, 2006


Should be required viewing at all the schools.

I fear that if educators were to present this (or related) material to their class, they would quickly lose their jobs.
posted by Fruny at 6:26 PM on October 21, 2006


I fear that if educators were to present this (or related) material to their class, they would quickly lose their jobs.
posted by Fruny


Unhappily, in many school districts in the US, I agree that your fear would be realistic.
posted by taosbat at 6:37 PM on October 21, 2006


Excellent video.

(Thanks delmoi. I saw it here first, but it does belong on the front page to get a good wide audience.)
posted by caddis at 6:48 PM on October 21, 2006


Fwiw, via in my case
posted by bardic at 6:55 PM on October 21, 2006


oh god, we are screwed.
posted by CaptMcalister at 7:00 PM on October 21, 2006


Interesting. It does an excellent job of the American soliders look like idiotic rednecks, even though they aren't. It seems like the the various sides are butting heads and since they all have guns or weapons, stuff just ends badly.

And the Iraqi solider who admitted to wanting Saddam back in exchange for regular electricity and running water--whoa. That's just a sad comment on humanity.

Is numbering prisoners on the forehead a common pratice in armies or is this something new?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:06 PM on October 21, 2006


Reminds me of the video shown on The Daily Show:

Uniformed, freshly-trained Iraqis standing at attention being told where they would be stationed, after which they all immediately start yelling, ripping off their uniforms, and deserting.

Honestly, there's nothing left to give up - just leave.
posted by odinsdream at 7:09 PM on October 21, 2006


Nobody in America is covering this stuff.

So true.

There are those here on MeFi who maintain that continuing posts and discussion are not worthy of our attention. I, respectfully, disagree. This post -- and those by y2karl -- illuminate the complex set of affairs in which we (Americans) and others on the global stage face these days.
posted by ericb at 7:16 PM on October 21, 2006


There are those here on MeFi who maintain that continuing posts and discussion *regarding the situation in Iraq* are not worthy of our attention.
posted by ericb at 7:20 PM on October 21, 2006


And the Iraqi solider who admitted to wanting Saddam back in exchange for regular electricity and running water--whoa. That's just a sad comment on humanity.

I would say that it's a sad comment on the US's totally ineffective efforts to improve Iraqis lives. Think about it. We've managed to screw things up so bad there that people are nostalgic for Sadam's regime. I'm under no illusions about what a completely evil and despicable person Sadam is and was but imagine how fracking bad it must be there now for people to think that they want him back.
posted by octothorpe at 7:35 PM on October 21, 2006


It looks like Afghanistan and Pakistan are becoming nearly as hopeless:
As I traveled through Pakistan and particularly the Pashtun lands bordering Afghanistan, I felt as if I were moving through a Taliban spa for rehabilitation and inspiration. Since 2002, the American and Pakistani militaries have focused on North Waziristan and South Waziristan, two of the seven districts making up Pakistan’s semiautonomous tribal areas, which are between the North-West Frontier Province and, to the south, Baluchistan Province; in the days since the 9/11 attacks, some tribes there had sheltered members of Al Qaeda and spawned their own Taliban movement. Meanwhile, in the deserts of Baluchistan, whose capital, Quetta, is just a few hours’ drive from the Afghan city of Kandahar, the Afghan Taliban were openly reassembling themselves under Mullah Omar and his leadership council. Quetta had become a kind of free zone where strategies could be formed, funds picked up, interviews given and victories relished.

...

Most madrasas in Pakistan are run by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, the religious-party alliance that has joined with Musharraf to keep the popular parties of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif from regaining power. The J.U.I. madrasas usually endorse jihad, although even here I met madrasa students who were against the war. They subscribed to a vision of jihad as a struggle for self-improvement and the improvement of society. Mawlawi Mohammadin, a cleric from Helmand, went so far as to tell me that these are the true roots of jihad, though he confessed that his is a lonely voice. He was afraid of everyone — Taliban, Pakistani intelligence, even his pupils. “If we start openly supporting Karzai, we could be killed by our own students,” he told me with nervous laughter. Only a month earlier, a Taliban official from Helmand who had reconciled with Karzai’s government was gunned down by assassins on a motorbike in Quetta.
posted by caddis at 7:41 PM on October 21, 2006


I fear that if educators were to present this (or related) material to their class, they would quickly lose their jobs.

That's nothing, check this breaking news out:

Mr Fernandez, an Arabic speaker who is director of public diplomacy in the [US State D]epartment's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, told Qatar-based al-Jazeera that history would decide how well the US had done.

"However, I think there is great room for strong criticism, because without doubt, there was arrogance and stupidity by the United States in Iraq," he said.


That's going to be fodder for the Sunday morning talk shows, teehee!
posted by furtive at 8:35 PM on October 21, 2006


I would say that it's a sad comment on the US's totally ineffective efforts to improve Iraqis lives. Think about it. We've managed to screw things up so bad there that people are nostalgic for Sadam's regime. I'm under no illusions about what a completely evil and despicable person Sadam is and was but imagine how fracking bad it must be there now for people to think that they want him back.

Remember, too, that the US was responsible for putting Hussein in power in the first place.

So that's twice you've fucked them over with evil intent.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:45 PM on October 21, 2006 [1 favorite]


I would say that it's a sad comment on the US's totally ineffective efforts to improve Iraqis lives.

Na, this is bigger than US or Iraqi. Think about how many people here in America swallowed lies because of 9/11. Think of the rationals people used : "Well if we fight them over there, then we're not fighting them HERE". People will sell their souls for three squares and a bit of quiet, without even thinking.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:08 PM on October 21, 2006


WELL, PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SWALLOWING THAT LINE SINCE BEFORE THE US EXISTED. IT'S NOT NECESSARILY NEWS.
posted by IronLizard at 9:58 PM on October 21, 2006


I am not startled about people putting up with much to have "normalcy" as in regular electricity, flushing toilets and the comfort of walking their neighborhood without fear of death. Reading Generation Kill by Wright got you the same analysis though more colorfully phrased from enlisted Marines in the first days after entry into Baghdad.

A real pragmatic assessment of building governments and the tolerance of the populance is from Lee Kuan Yu, that in the beginning, people will tolerate any form of government avoids or escapes chaos; guarantees a certain level effeciecy and satisfies basic needs. I know that he may not be a favorite for many mefites but he has an interestng viewpoint to air.

There is also Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (Please, no flaming from the Behaviorialists!)
posted by jadepearl at 11:46 PM on October 21, 2006


It does an excellent job of the American soliders look like idiotic rednecks, even though they aren't.

There are a lot of country boys over there. You think everybody is from New York City?! I don't feel that they are portrayed as being idiotic. But I am from Tennessee...

I would say that they are being shown more as impotent.

And the Iraqi solider who admitted to wanting Saddam back in exchange for regular electricity and running water--whoa.

And the soldier speaking with him is supposed to be emblematic of freedom?
posted by pwedza at 1:02 AM on October 22, 2006


Re: "Nobody in America is covering this stuff" - this video was also broadcast, and discussed, on the BBC news earlier this week.
posted by Flashman at 1:43 AM on October 22, 2006


Any way to save this? Tried save as via Firefox but no deal
posted by A189Nut at 2:59 AM on October 22, 2006


There are those here on MeFi who maintain that continuing posts and discussion are not worthy of our attention. I, respectfully, disagree. This post -- and those by y2karl -- illuminate the complex set of affairs in which we (Americans) and others on the global stage face these days.

Well yes but this subject has been done. I'm just so tired of it.

Why can't the world keep pace with my attention span?
posted by dreamsign at 4:53 AM on October 22, 2006


Man I posted this to MetaChat on the 19th!

It is powerful stuff, and Sean Smith does happen to be one of the best photographers of our time. I am still amazed he hasn't been killed out in the field yet.
posted by Funmonkey1 at 5:09 AM on October 22, 2006


I have a couple of friends that are serving in Iraq. In addition, I have heard and read dozens of interviews with soldiers that have come back from Iraq and returned there. While their political views vary widely on what they think we should be doing in Iraq, there is unanimity on one theme: they are all absolutely stunned that when they come back to the US, there seems to be no knowledge or recognition that they are in a war over there. Life goes on here while they are in deep, deep shit in Iraq, and it's only getting worse.

For all the fucking support the troops yellow ribbons and shit, the willful ignorance of the bloody and dangerous fool's errand these guys are on seems the absolute height of hypocrisy. We shout empty slogans about supporting the troops, yet no one seems to give a shit about knowing what they are going through.

I really wish there were more segments like this on the evening news, maybe things would be different if so.
posted by psmealey at 6:17 AM on October 22, 2006


It does an excellent job of the American soliders look like idiotic rednecks.....

I just didn't see that.
posted by caddis at 6:28 AM on October 22, 2006


It does an excellent job of the American soliders look like idiotic rednecks, even though they aren't.

From my informal survey of friends and family that were in the military (a limited survey of about two dozen, I must admit), a lot of American soldiers are, in fact, idiotic rednecks. Maybe a higher proportion than in the general population.

But that's beside the point. You could put in 150,000 of the smartest, best-trained, smoothest-talking, most culturally-sensitive people in the world and it wouldn't make little difference. The fact of the matter is that people in general just don't like foreign soldiers coming into their lands and ordering them around at gunpoint.
posted by moonbiter at 6:36 AM on October 22, 2006


It was shown in Australia, too.

"In the studio, Howard first had to sit through a 10-minute clip of a BBC Newsnight commentary of a London Guardian photographer's two months with the US 101st Airborne division north of Baghdad. O'Brien (interviewer) called it "a rare insight into the lives of US troops in Iraq and their meshing with their Iraqi allies". Not a lot of "meshing" went on. It looked more like mashing. American patience with unco-operative Iraqi troops and police ran thin. The imagery of bound and hooded Iraqis, lines of kneeling detainees and indiscriminate US shooting was dominant. Howard clearly hated it."
Link.
posted by emf at 7:08 AM on October 22, 2006


Metafilter: J150,000 of the smartest, best-trained, smoothest-talking, most culturally-sensitive people in the world, making little difference.

I kid.

I'm not even clicking on the video link because it will fill me with anger and despair. How's that for willful ignorance. I pity the next president, regardless of their party affiliation.
posted by craniac at 7:30 AM on October 22, 2006


I pity the next president, regardless of their party affiliation.

"[Bush] doesn't have a plan for what to do in Iraq so he wants to keep troops there for the rest of his presidency. That's his plan: stay long enough that it becomes someone else's problem."
posted by homunculus at 12:36 PM on October 22, 2006


I really wish there were more segments like this on the evening news, maybe things would be different if so.

Vietnam taught the Pentagon the dangers of allowing the public to watch an unfiltered war on TV. They're not going to let it happen again, and the networks aren't going to rock the boat.

CNN may be in trouble, though.
posted by homunculus at 12:41 PM on October 22, 2006


homunculus: Also, Halliburton is still making money.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:46 PM on October 22, 2006


Indeed.

Meanwhile, Cheney is still at it.

Heck of a job.
posted by homunculus at 9:12 PM on October 22, 2006


Stay the course.
posted by homunculus at 12:53 PM on October 23, 2006


On November 19, 2005, in Haditha, during Kilo Company's third tour of duty in Iraq, a land mine planted by insurgents exploded beneath a Humvee, killing a 20-year-old Marine. What happened next—the slaughter of 24 Iraqi men, women, and children—was not entirely an aberration. These actions were rooted in the very conduct of the war. As the men of Kilo Company face investigation, the author exposes the political, military, and human realities that now make such carnage routine.
posted by homunculus at 9:54 PM on October 25, 2006


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