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Documentary: embedded with US troops in Baghdad
July 14, 2007 1:53 AM   Subscribe

Sean Smith spent two months embedded with US troops in Baghdad and Anbar province. His harrowing documentary exposes the exhaustion and disillusionment of the soldiers.
posted by jouke (152 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
And of the Iraqi citizens I might add; the shrieking old lady with the walker broke my heart.
posted by jouke at 1:54 AM on July 14, 2007


Shattering stuff. Thanks for posting.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:43 AM on July 14, 2007


wait a minute....a roadside bomb kills 6 Americans, and the proper response is to break into the nearest house and arrest all the men?!?

So, is our official policy actually designed to create more terrorists or what?
posted by Avenger at 2:55 AM on July 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


I was also heartbroken by the old woman as well. I was struck that if she was speaking English instead of Arabic, she (and her surroundings) could have been just another granny from Ohio. More people need to see images like that, I think.

Its not "the Other" we're destroying over there. Its real people, too.
posted by Avenger at 3:05 AM on July 14, 2007


This welled up horror and outrage that I thought had been tapped out months ago.
posted by uri at 3:10 AM on July 14, 2007 [4 favorites]


Great documentary. Those cameramen and reporters have balls of steel.

So, is our official policy actually designed to create more terrorists or what?

Well, anyone who attacks uniformed soldiers cannot properly be called a "terrorist". Let's not pretend that these soldiers are actually fighting "teh terrorists".

The proper response would be to round up 100 civilians, put them against a wall, and shoot them. That sends a rather clear and strong message to those who fight against occupying troops. It was a very effective response when used by the Nazis during their occupation of Norway and Holland. This is how one deals with an insurgency. Why do you think Saddam Hussein "gassed the Kurds?"

An insurgency cannot be beaten by ANYTHING except dictatorial power. I keep saying to my few remaining Republican friends that the neo-cons had a perfectly good dictator in Saddam Hussein keeping that country in control, and they got rid of him for no good reason. They broke it, now they own it.

It is a tragedy beyond measure. Those accountable will never be held accountable, but I hope they saved the rope from Saddam's neck for those who really deserve it.
posted by three blind mice at 3:19 AM on July 14, 2007 [10 favorites]


Well, anyone who attacks uniformed soldiers cannot properly be called a "terrorist". Let's not pretend that these soldiers are actually fighting "teh terrorists".

I understand. I was saying, however, that the chances of these young men eventually leaving Iraq to attack American targets (as "terrorists") probably went from virtually zero to "very high" after their treatment by the US Army. I don't think I could blame them, really.

Thats one of the things that kills me about all this. We've turned Iraq into the World's Biggest Terrorist Boot Camp. Didn't we invade Afghanistan to get rid of exactly the same thing?

We're creating an entire generation of young, dedicated men who feel nothing but steely, white-hot hatred for America and Americans.

The proper response would be to round up 100 civilians, put them against a wall, and shoot them.

Are you serious? Sorry, but FreeRepublic is down the hall ===>

I keep saying to my few remaining Republican friends that the neo-cons had a perfectly good dictator in Saddam Hussein keeping that country in control, and they got rid of him for no good reason.

Well you forget, Saddam didn't like Israel very much which means he had to go.
posted by Avenger at 3:30 AM on July 14, 2007



Are you serious? Sorry, but FreeRepublic is down the hall ===>


He's saying what works, not that he neccessarily condones it. And he's right about it working.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 3:48 AM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Whoops. My bad. Sorry 3BM.

Although I'm not completely sure those tactics always work either. Didn't we just have a "Does Terrorism Work?" debate anyway?
posted by Avenger at 3:54 AM on July 14, 2007


Brutal.
posted by srboisvert at 4:39 AM on July 14, 2007


So, is our official policy actually designed to create more terrorists or what?

Well, there's not very much more they can do. Seriously, after 15 months (times two? three?) those guys have nothing left. We're simply asking way too much of them and they're breaking, and that's what you see all over that video.

Are you serious? Sorry, but FreeRepublic is down the hall

I've always said the same thing, and I ain't no Republican. It's just pragmatism in its purest, ugliest form. Left to their own devices, a lot of people in the Middle East would rather spend their time killing each other over tiny fucking details in a dead man's life story than be civilized and join fucking society. That doesn't mean all of them. It doesn't even mean most of them. But enough to ruin it for everyone. So what do you do about it if you just want to live your life, have some children, and be generally left the fuck alone? You let some dictator take care of that for you and you don't ask them how they get their results. How do you think it works in Saudi Arabia and Egypt? Especially Egypt: shit, imagine what the U.S. would have done if Reagan had been assassinated in the 80s? That's why the people allowed the free-for-all on the native Islamic fundamentalists after Sadat's murder. They were just sick and tired of the shit.

That was the state of Iraq, and it was actually a pretty good deal for the rest of the region because Saddam was modern and secular, and didn't have extraterritorial ambitions (at least, not after he saw what happened the first time). But we fucked that all up and so now we get to see a giant What If...? lived out in all its glory.

Well you forget, Saddam didn't like Israel very much which means he had to go.

I weep for Iran.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:09 AM on July 14, 2007 [4 favorites]


Just go home America.
posted by A189Nut at 5:16 AM on July 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


You let some dictator take care of that for you and you don't ask them how they get their results.

Ah, that's just cynical overgeneralized horseshit. The specific idiocies of the US invasion of Iraq - the lack of any postwar plan, etc., we know the drill - shouldn't be extrapolated into some kind of general statement about the need for dictatorships. Yes, a dictator can provide stability. No, a dictator is not the only way to provide stability.
posted by mediareport at 5:42 AM on July 14, 2007


Ah yes, the canard of the Arabs are just not able to get it together. Never mind that they have been repeatedly prevented from getting it together by the same people who keep criticizing them for not getting it together.

How many middle eastern dictators were US backed? How many Islamic revolutions were against US backed dictators?
posted by srboisvert at 6:00 AM on July 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


This video from Channel 4 in the UK is an extraordinary and acute examination of exactly where we are right now in Iraq. (PDF Transcript)

It is not comfortable viewing (of course) but it is fascinating and may well change your mind about what we should do next.

The whole site - called the The Iraq Commission is worth exploring. Catch up with Salam Pax and many others.

I hope that the video links work - they are windows media - sorry. If they don't, go through the main site and find Dr. Toby Dodge.


posted by grahamwell at 6:07 AM on July 14, 2007 [4 favorites]


Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saturday that the Iraqi army and police are capable of keeping security in the country when American troops leave "any time they want,"[1]
posted by stbalbach at 6:12 AM on July 14, 2007


If anyone thinks that the creation of a perpetual string of dehumanized Iraqi "terrorists" was not in fact the plan all along, you've not been paying attention. The Neocons want a endless war with an unending pool of "terrorists", and that's exactly what they got. The US is NEVER leaving Iraq, the military bases - oops, I meant embassy - is our permanent presence in the country. This incredibly heinous "war" is just the beginning. We are fucked, but good, and at the end, the Bush family will vanish off to Paraguay and rule in style far, far from the hand of revenge.
posted by dbiedny at 6:19 AM on July 14, 2007


You look at those GI's and realize they aren't in some impromptu base camp -- they're sitting on chairs in front of furniture and windows, in somebody's house.

Where are those particular occupants? Fled? Killed?

At what moment was the poor SOB of a cab driver "Democratized"? When US troops who I imagine don't speak fluent Arabic tried to tell him to stop, or when they shot him through the throat?

This is an occupation. Cf. Roman and British empires for how this story ends.
posted by bardic at 6:22 AM on July 14, 2007


The US is NEVER leaving Iraq

Uhm I guess so, as there is no shortage of people believing "300" or "Starship troopers" have a 'message' and to prove their manhood and save the day they'll be shipped in Iraq.
posted by elpapacito at 6:25 AM on July 14, 2007


The proper response would be to round up 100 civilians, put them against a wall, and shoot them.

That might work. It often doesn't -- and it just holds the pressure in, so it explodes when the dictator dies.

Insurgencies are supported by the people. They might not be fighting, but they're giving food and lying to the police. They give warning where the next sweep is coming in.

The trick to beating insurgencies is to show the people that you're the good guys -- you keep them fed and safe. The reason the Iraqi Insurgency is growing is that they hate us, and I can't blame them, because we're doing the exact opposite.

Between the contractor/mercernary abuses and Abu Gharib, the message we sent to the Iraqis is simple -- you're subhuman, and best, and we'll treat you as such.

The insurgency will not end while we are there -- we are the *reason* for the insurgency.
posted by eriko at 6:25 AM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


mediareport: three blind mice is exactly right. A dictator is the only way to provide stability at gunpoint. If the people don't want to be stable enough to get rid of the insurgency from within -- and they have to want it pretty damn bad, as the insurgents will kill anyone that appears to be resisting -- then the only other way to win that kind of war is by making them even more afraid of us than they are of the insurgents.

This is, in a word, horrible. It's also the only method that has been shown to actually beat an insurgency short of a troop commitment so enormous it would break us.

The 'hearts and minds' approach might have worked; if they'd loved what we represented enough to fight back against the monsters in their midst, we might have been able to win. But we made it abundantly clear with our policies and Abu Ghraib that we don't give a shit about the welfare of the Iraqis; we're not there for them in any way, shape, or form. They hate us, but they don't fear us, which is the worst possible approach.

The Army is in shreds, Halliburton is wealthy beyond imagination, and we're a trillion or so dollars poorer. The situation in Iraq is far more dangerous to us than the one we started with.

Mission accomplished!
posted by Malor at 6:33 AM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


As far as a democratic response to the war in Iraq goes, I wish we were focusing on accountability instead of a pullout. When Bush started the war, he blinded the country by saying that anyone who questioned or dissented was on the side of the terrorists. In the atmosphere of the time, this effectively silenced everyone but the hawks.

Bush's Iraq war created a terrorist problem where none existed before... and he should hang for it, figuratively if not literally. And so should the GOP.

Maybe I've just been brainwashed by the fearmongering right wing, but it seems like leaving Iraq is just going to make us look weak to the muslims. And if we walk out, will Iraq become The Islamic State of Iraq, Praise Allah, Death to Israel, Death to America?

I think the Iraq war was a horrible idea. But it seems to me that there've been enough critical decisions made on the basis of ideology and gut feelings, and that what we need is a Department of the Middle East to sort out, in technical fashion, just what the hell we should be doing about all this crazy ass shit. Because it sure looks like it's about to blow up in our faces. No appointees by politicians, no committees from congress, let's let the CIA and DOD and NSA (etc, etc) cobble together a real meritocracy of middle east expertise, and for gosh's sake, let's let THEM build an overall strategy and set the course. I don't see it being possible that we could draft all the fundie christians and send them to Iraq to replace the volunteer troops, who need to be sent to Afghanistan at this point, and it would be just irresponsible to leave Iraq in the hands of the "stay the course" crowd and let it fall apart in their hands (which it almost certainly will) despite the fact that it would drive home the fact that this mess they've created is their fault and that they are to blame, and it is a great amount of blame at that.

I've skipped over the part in this post where I rail against Bush and point out how he has taken us out of the frying pan and into the fire, how we are losing the war on terror because we didn't focus on afghanistan, and now alQaeda is reforming, and that now we're too overstretched to (god forbid) attack another country should we have to.

We're practically ignoring southeast asia, from what I understand, and thanks to "the decider", we're weaker, less respected, and in 10 years there'll probably be another 9/11.

That's what we get for putting a moronic puppet in the highest office.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go curse evangelical christianity's name.

Sorry for the long post.
posted by modernerd at 7:04 AM on July 14, 2007


i thought i was all out of tears for this...
posted by empath at 7:06 AM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


So, is our official policy actually designed to create more terrorists or what?
How else can we fight Bush's forever-war? We have to replenish the stock of enemies somehow.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:11 AM on July 14, 2007


An insurgency cannot be beaten by ANYTHING except dictatorial power.

Nothing about that statement is historically true. "Insurgencies" have been defeated (and, admittedly, have risen to power and have festered) in a wide array of political states by an equally wide array of methods. I think you've narrowed your vision too small... either that or you're five.

Your obsession with the word "dictator" is causing you to overlook the word "power."

That's what it really comes down to.

The truth of the matter is if we (and by "we" I mean the "coalition of the willing" not just "US") had enough troops (i.e. power) in place with our current approach, we'd be in good shape. Of course, the magic number -I've heard- is 1 enforcement official for every 8 civilians. Right now, it's around 1 for every 220. There's no way anyone will ever or would have ever agreed to the full ratio and that's how you know we were never really serious about this thing.

The problem is we're weak and what little power we do have is tired because of it.
posted by pokermonk at 7:12 AM on July 14, 2007


No appointees by politicians, no committees from congress, let's let the CIA and DOD and NSA (etc, etc) cobble together a real meritocracy of middle east expertise, and for gosh's sake, let's let THEM build an overall strategy and set the course.

You know what I say: lets get these "politicians" and commitees out of government entirely. Let's let the CIANSADOD cobble together a real meritocracy of governing expertise and let THEM run our government. And one man, a strong man, can direct them...

you're a real trusting soul...
posted by geos at 7:32 AM on July 14, 2007


It is not comfortable viewing (of course) but it is fascinating and may well change your mind about what we should do next.

well, let's see

"the State interest of Britain and America, are once again being promoted over what would be best for the Iraqi people."

i've looked over the american constitution and can't find an obligation to the iraqi people in it ... and as far as i'm concerned, the blame for the results of a withdrawal fall squarely on the shoulders of those who were for this war, not those who were against it

get the troops out now
posted by pyramid termite at 7:39 AM on July 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


I wonder if ANYONE on Capitol Hill will actually see the pained look on those soldier's faces, let alone the agony that innocent Iraqis are faced with on a daily basis and do something sensible about it.

The more I read and listen and watch stories about the chaos in Iraq, I have to remind myself that it was OUR fault. The more I feel helpless because, well, everyone knows: the will of the people mean nothing to our government.
posted by lonemantis at 7:51 AM on July 14, 2007


geos... I don't want the intelligence agencies to run the government... just manage our middle east policy.
posted by modernerd at 7:54 AM on July 14, 2007


And if we walk out, will Iraq become The Islamic State of Iraq, Praise Allah, Death to Israel, Death to America?

Of course it will. The very best outcome we could have gotten, if we'd handled it perfectly from the very start:

The Islamic State of Iraq, Praise Allah, Death to Israel. We Hate America Too, But We Won't Bomb Them.

That's actually a pretty acceptable outcome in my eyes. If we really wanted the Iraqis to be free, they had to be free to hate us, just as long as they didn't try to blow us up. We weren't willing to accept that outcome, helping to ensure that they WILL try to blow us up.
posted by Malor at 8:23 AM on July 14, 2007


I will never understand how people can run into a house of possibly innocent Arabic-speaking people, scream "GET THE FUCK DOWN!!!!" at them repeatedly and be UPSET that the people aren't doing what they're told, often assuming it's because they're probably dangerous.

They fucking speak ARABIC.

Pisses me off. It really does. Knowing that are our soldiers not at all trained to respect other cultures, it just sickens me.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:26 AM on July 14, 2007


So, is our official policy actually designed to create more terrorists or what?

How else can we fight Bush's forever-war? We have to replenish the stock of enemies somehow.


Well at least Bush developed one renewable resource!
posted by fairmettle at 8:37 AM on July 14, 2007


I'm reminded of the NPR story on mental illness in returning soldiers and how one guy in particular was totally unsympathetic, talked about how the guys who cracked were just "weak" and "trouble-makers," and generally made himself out to be The Man. The NPR story eventually ended with this guy cracking and seeking psychological help.

I wish there were some way to look at these unhappy, disillusioned soldiers and pick out which of them signed up, post 9/11, all high-fives, yeehaws, and "we're gonna kick some towelhead ass!" because those guys deserve not a tear from me or anyone else. Mostly, this sort of thing reminds me of confused, rich-kid frat boys standing over the rapidly cooling corpse of a freshman pledge whose hazing has gone awry, blinking, wondering precisely what the heck happened, and who is gonna bail them out of this. They aren't all like that, but I suspect there's a lot more than we need, if we needed any of those guys at all.

The only possible redemption these guys could earn would involve them coming back to the States and campaigning, not just in front of impotetent, show-vote Congressional panels stuffed with Democrats, but to the neocon friends of their fathers, down at the Rotary Club, who slapped them on the backs, cheered them on, and told them that they'd be real men after they popped a few caps in the "sand niggers who done our Towers." Only a long, public, honest self-flagellation from the United States and a world apology has a shot at restoring our dignity and honor.

This probably will not happen. The future of the United States looks a lot like that overly defensive guy who, once he's committed a faux pas, can't stop screwing up and blustering, rather than trying to make up, and eventually turns into a sullen, half-assed bully. You probably don't know that guy, 'cause he doesn't have any friends.
posted by adipocere at 8:38 AM on July 14, 2007 [6 favorites]


And another thing that sickens me? When people who've never been to the middle east themselves go on about how we should just let all of those barbarians over there kill themselves because that's all they want to do. Because you are such an expert on what "they" want. That's what happens when people watch too much television and believe every ounce of edited fearmongering propoganda it has spit at us. Which is A HELL OF A LOT.

I'll say it before I'll say it again... fundamentalist islamics represent the average person in the middle east as well as fundamentalist Christians represent the average American. ie, they do not. But there's no reason for people to show the average middle eastern person on tv, showing them as the people they really are instead of people with their faces in the carpet while soldiers are yelling at them to "GET THE FUCK DOWN." That isn't considered newsworthy here. It's just like how people in other countries think that the U.S. is just a bunch of fat people who shoot eachother on the freeways even though I don't know a single person who fits that description. But doing stories about violence and obesity in America make us look inferior.

If you want to believe other people are all barbarians, that makes it a lot easier though. That whole "we are good & our beliefs are right, they are bad & their beliefs are barbaric" thing makes it easy to think you can solve the whole thing by wiping out an entire race of people. And it gives you something in common with terrorists when you think that way, so I guess in the end it makes us all equal somehow. 90% of human violence was fueled by men with that attitude.

I'm sick of it. YMMV.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:45 AM on July 14, 2007 [7 favorites]


I'm reminded of a quote from a gentleman in England or France who was being interviewed in SiCKO: Paraphrasing: "In France / England, the government is afraid of the people." Protests actually mean something there. The government SHOULD be afraid of the people. It seems in the US, the people are a mere formality to humor and the rich and powerful can continue to run things.

The US government should be afraid of it's people. It's unfortunate that things go on in spite of the people.
posted by lonemantis at 8:45 AM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yes. Thank you, President Bush. Nearly 70% of Americans disaporve of the way you are handling the war in Iraq. 64% feel the surge in troops has been a failure*. Can you tell us, please, why we are fighting in Iraq?

The Ever Changing Definition of ‘Mission’ In Iraq
In June 2005, ThinkProgress noted the Bush was constantly revising the definition of our “mission” in Iraq.

Reporting on his escalation strategy this week, President Bush claimed “satisfactory” progress in many areas of the “new mission” in Iraq. Bush has changed the definition of our “mission” in Iraq so many times, he has made it impossible for the American public, U.S. forces, and the Iraqi population to have any confidence that the mission will be ever completed.

THE PRE-WAR MISSION WAS TO RID IRAQ OF WMD

Bush: “Our mission is clear in Iraq. Should we have to go in, our mission is very clear: disarmament.” [3/6/03]

AFTER THE WAR BEGAN, THE MISSION EXPANDED

Bush: “Our cause is just, the security of the nations we serve and the peace of the world. And our mission is clear, to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people.” [3/22/03]

Bush: “Our forces have been given a clear mission: to end a regime that threatened its neighbors and the world with weapons of mass destruction and to free a people that had suffered far too long.” [4/14/03]

THEN THE MISSION WAS COMPLETE

Bush: “On Thursday, I visited the USS Abraham Lincoln, now headed home after the longest carrier deployment in recent history. I delivered good news to the men and women who fought in the cause of freedom: Their mission is complete, and major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” [5/3/03]

BUT THEN IT CONTINUED AGAIN

Bush: “The United States and our allies will complete our mission in Iraq.” [7/30/03]

THEN THE MISSION WAS TO DEVELOP A FREE IRAQ

Bush: “That has been our mission all along, to develop the conditions such that a free Iraq will emerge, run by the Iraqi citizens.” [11/4/03]

Bush: “We will see that Iraq is free and self-governing and democratic. We will accomplish our mission.” [5/4/04]

AND TO TRAIN THE IRAQI TROOPS

Bush: “And our mission is clear there, as well, and that is to train the Iraqis so they can do the fighting; make sure they can stand up to defend their freedoms, which they want to do.” [6/2/05]

Bush: “We’re making progress toward the goal, which is, on the one hand, a political process moving forward in Iraq, and on the other hand, the Iraqis capable of defending themselves. And we will — we will complete this mission for the sake of world peace.” [6/20/05]

THEN IT SHIFTED TO ADVANCING DEMOCRACY

Bush: “We will stay as long as necessary to complete the mission. … Advancing the ideal of democracy and self-government is the mission that created our nation — and now it is the calling of a new generation of Americans.” [11/30/05]

AND PROTECTING AMERICA FROM TERRORISTS

Bush: “In the coming days, there will be considerable reflection on the removal of Saddam Hussein from power and our remaining mission in Iraq…By helping the Iraqi people build a free and representative government, we will deny the terrorists a safe haven to plan attacks against America.” [3/11/06]

Bush: “We will finish the mission. By defeating the terrorists in Iraq, we will bring greater security to our own country. And when victory is achieved, our troops will return home with the honor they have earned.” [3/18/06]

THEN THE MISSION WAS PROVIDING SECURITY FOR THE IRAQI POPULATION

Bush: “In fact, we have a new strategy with a new mission: helping secure the population, especially in Baghdad. Our plan puts Iraqis in the lead.” [1/13/07]

Bush: “[I]t’s the combination of providing security in neighborhoods through these joint security stations, and training that is the current mission we’re going through, with a heavy emphasis on security in Baghdad.” [4/10/07]

AND NOW?

Bush: “It’s a new mission. And David Petraeus is in Iraq carrying it out. Its goal is to help the Iraqis make progress toward reconciliation — to build a free nation that respects the rights of its people, upholds the rule of law, and is an ally against the extremists in this war.” [6/28/07]
posted by ericb at 8:45 AM on July 14, 2007 [24 favorites]


*disapprove*
posted by ericb at 8:46 AM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


...1 enforcement official for every 8 civilians.

'Enforcement official', nice turn of euphemism there. Would you call Abu Ghraib an 'enforcement facility'?
posted by signal at 8:52 AM on July 14, 2007


This week the Los Angeles Times reported that the Green Zone had been hit by Katyusha rockets. (Earlier reports of Katyusha attacks.)

Is that true, or are the reporting inaccurate? (There have been reports of rocket attacks before, which I assumed meant RPGs, but why say Katyusha specifically if that's not what they are?) Are the insurgents really driving around in trucks with multiple rocket launchers despite our air cover, satellites, and drones?

Would you call Abu Ghraib an 'enforcement facility'?

"Freedom crib."
posted by kirkaracha at 8:55 AM on July 14, 2007


This week the Los Angeles Times reported that the Green Zone had been hit by Katyusha rockets.

Not only that, but...

No Longer Safe for US Members of Congress to Spend Night in Iraq
"Things are improving in Iraq so much that it's no longer safe for US Members of Congress to stay there overnight. Forget about visiting John McCain's little street market, they can't even visit the US Embassy safely.
'The delegation's visit was harrowing at times. While visiting with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker at the U.S. Embassy inside Baghdad's walled, high-security Green Zone on Friday, mortar blasts landed inside the American-controlled territory.

"This recorded message played four times while we were there, asking us to move away from any windows, to get on the ground and move to the center of the building," Bachmann said. "(Crocker) stayed in his seat and kept talking with us the whole time. He never moved."....

Security conditions in Iraq prevented Bachmann from meeting any Iraqis, leaving the Green Zone or staying in Iraq overnight. She and other congressional members were required to wear full body armor, including Kevlar helmets, during the entire trip, she said.'
They couldn't even spend the night. This is a new low, in terms of how dangerous Iraq is getting, even inside the Green Zone."
posted by ericb at 9:05 AM on July 14, 2007


"...why say Katyusha...?"

Excellent question, kirkaracha

'Our rotted press corps, a division of "Camp Victory"'
Our news organizations, which claim to have learned so many valuable lessons from their profound failures in the run-up to the Iraq war, "reported" on this incident by doing one thing and one thing only: reading the Press Release and then copying it down and reporting it as Truth.
posted by jaronson at 9:10 AM on July 14, 2007


I wish there were some way to look at these unhappy, disillusioned soldiers and pick out which of them signed up, post 9/11, all high-fives, yeehaws, and "we're gonna kick some towelhead ass!" because those guys deserve not a tear from me or anyone else. Mostly, this sort of thing reminds me of confused, rich-kid frat boys standing over the rapidly cooling corpse of a freshman pledge whose hazing has gone awry, blinking, wondering precisely what the heck happened, and who is gonna bail them out of this. They aren't all like that, but I suspect there's a lot more than we need, if we needed any of those guys at all.

I think you're projecting your own world-view on this situation way, way too much here.
posted by Snyder at 9:13 AM on July 14, 2007


I worry about Riverbend .
posted by hortense at 9:14 AM on July 14, 2007


Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saturday that the Iraqi army and police are capable of keeping security in the country when American troops leave 'any time they want,'

"If they were to say, leave, we would leave." -- President Bush, May 24, 2007
posted by kirkaracha at 9:18 AM on July 14, 2007


I flew to London on the very first day of this war in March 2003. I went to Speaker's Corner at one point, and listened to all of the people on their soapboxes.

I still think about this guy every once in a while. I don't think he had any clue what an understatement he was making. I often wonder what kinds of signs he's been wearing since.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:22 AM on July 14, 2007


great film. Thanks for the link.....

....

How come all the best movies are on the Guardian these days? Isn't that supposed to be a newspaper?
posted by grubby at 9:28 AM on July 14, 2007


Anybody else notice how useless the German Shepard was?
posted by srboisvert at 9:30 AM on July 14, 2007


I've always said the same thing, and I ain't no Republican. It's just pragmatism in its purest, ugliest form. Left to their own devices, a lot of people in the Middle East would rather spend their time killing each other over tiny fucking details in a dead man's life story than be civilized and join fucking society.

Oh please, this has nothing to do with a "dead mans' life story" Saddam and most of the Bathists were Sunnis and so were the Kurds, and we know how well they got along. It's tribalism not actual theological disagreement.
posted by delmoi at 9:30 AM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


"I'll tell you the point where I really turned... [there was] this little, you know, pudgy little two-year-old child with the cute little pudgy legs and she has a bullet through her leg... An IED [improvised explosive device] went off, the gun-happy soldiers just started shooting anywhere and the baby got hit. And this baby looked at me... like asking me why. You know, 'Why do I have a bullet in my leg?'... I was just like, 'This is, this is it. This is ridiculous'."
Specialist Michael Harmon, 24, of Brooklyn, 167th Armour Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. In Al-Rashidiya on 13-month tour beginning in April 2003
posted by fullerine at 9:40 AM on July 14, 2007


That film was intense.
posted by chunking express at 10:03 AM on July 14, 2007






A friend of mine was in Iraq after Hussein was ousted. He got to the Kurdish territories in the north. They greeted the Americans warmly but most Kurds that they met were confused by one point: Why don't you just start bombing towns where you know that they hate you and want to kill you? Shouldn't you finish them off?

It struck me, that this is the essence of war. Kill all enemies. Make the environment so painfully horrible that no one can stand it. War is not neat. War is not glorious. War is sloppy and never within the lines. War is fear manifest.

It is intended to be the last tool that you reach for after trying the other tools. We are trying to build a democracy with a hammer. No drills, no saws, no wrenches. Just a hammer.

It is so difficult to see this tragedy, every day, and know that the President will not budge and Congress doesn't have the numbers or the fortitude to stand up to him.
posted by zerobyproxy at 10:12 AM on July 14, 2007




Left to their own devices, a lot of people in the Middle East United States would rather spend their time killing each other foreigners over tiny fucking details in a dead man's life story zeroes in their bank account than be civilized and join fucking society.


Fixed that for you.
posted by SaintCynr at 10:18 AM on July 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


elpapacito : Uhm I guess so, as there is no shortage of people believing "300" or "Starship troopers" have a 'message' and to prove their manhood and save the day they'll be shipped in Iraq.

Well technically, in 300 they were defending themselves from a foreign invader, so I think if there is a 'message' to that movie, we may be on the wrong side of it.
posted by quin at 10:23 AM on July 14, 2007


And watching things like this, I really wonder how these soldiers are going to deal with coming home. I wonder if they are going to be able to re-integrate, or if the too much time in-country is going to leave them with a whole host of PTSD related issues.

Especially when you consider how poor the treatment options for them are nowadays.

I have a feeling that the next few years are going to be really rough on these men and women.
posted by quin at 10:27 AM on July 14, 2007


I know I don't want some PTSD 20-something with the taste of blood and murder living next to me and my 2 year old daughter. I'd rather they just as soon take up residency in Iraq where their humanity was striped from them.
YMMV
posted by Balisong at 10:35 AM on July 14, 2007


I need to stop reading this thread right now.

Honestly, I don't see how ANYONE could read this link and not call US terrorists.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:38 AM on July 14, 2007


amazing clip, but difficult to watch
posted by KokuRyu at 10:42 AM on July 14, 2007


I really wonder how these soldiers are going to deal with coming home. I wonder if they are going to be able to re-integrate, or if the too much time in-country is going to leave them with a whole host of PTSD related issues.

Especially when the military tries to screw them out of their benefits: Veteran Care Under Review as More Than 22,000 Are Discharged With 'Pre-Existing' Personality Disorder, Which Some Say Developed During War
posted by homunculus at 10:44 AM on July 14, 2007


Anybody else notice how useless the German Shepard was?

Don't be so hard on the poor dog. His only training was in terrifying naked prisoners so of course he's a little lost now.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:00 AM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Every good cop carries a throwaway," Hatcher said of weapons planted on innocent victims in incidents that occurred while he was stationed between Tikrit and Samarra, from February 2004 to March 2005. Any survivors were sent to jail for interrogation.

From fullerine and miss lynnster's link

This is precisely why you don't want a military force acting as a policing agent. They don't have a fucking clue how to do it correctly.

"People would make jokes about it, even before we'd go into a raid, like, 'Oh fuck, we're gonna get the wrong house'. Cause it would always happen. We always got the wrong house."

Fuck me.

"We were approaching this one house... and we're approaching, and they had a family dog. And it was barking ferociously, cause it's doing its job. And my squad leader, just out of nowhere, just shoots it... So I see this dog - I'm a huge animal lover... this dog has, like, these eyes on it and he's running around spraying blood all over the place. And like, you know, what the hell is going on? The family is sitting right there, with three little children and a mom and a dad, horrified. And I'm at a loss for words."

All these kids that are seeing this? Smile and wave to them, because the next time they see you, they will be looking at you from behind the sights of their gun. We are breeding a whole new generation of insurgents.

We are going to fucking lose, because we have an army trying to be cops, and doing it poorly.

I need to walk away from this thread for a while.
posted by quin at 11:08 AM on July 14, 2007


I only watched the beginning of the film, because it was horrific, and I knew what was coming next, but the soldier who says that they've been on duty for 14 months, engaging every day-- that level of time spent continually in combat is unprecedented in the military history of the United States. It's far more time than any unit spent in combat in WWII; they would be rotated out every few weeks.

None of those men and women are ever going to be the people they were.
posted by jokeefe at 11:25 AM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hatcher said of weapons planted on innocent victims

there was a fpp on an apparent weapons-planting two years ago. The usual suspects offered the devil's advocate/BS line, of course.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:28 AM on July 14, 2007


This is just great. Armchair strategists saying "if we would just use the tactics of the Nazi's, we would win." News flash: Germany did not win WWII.
posted by telstar at 11:32 AM on July 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


..."Starship troopers" have a 'message'...

I feel like I've heard about the anti-fascist message of Starship Troopers far more times than I can count.
posted by kittyprecious at 11:32 AM on July 14, 2007


Much of the resentment toward Iraqis described to The Nation by veterans was confirmed in a report released May 4 by the Pentagon. According to the survey, conducted by the Office of the Surgeon General of the US Army Medical Command, just 47 percent of soldiers and 38 percent of marines agreed that civilians should be treated with dignity and respect.
'The carnage, the blown-up bodies I saw ... Why? What was this for?'
posted by furtive at 11:40 AM on July 14, 2007


It is so difficult to see this tragedy, every day, and know that the President will not budge and Congress doesn't have the numbers or the fortitude to stand up to him.

Har. As if congress and the president don't get their campaign finance checks signed by the very same defense contractors. Hillary wants a bigger war than Bush has, to show that her penis can get hard too...

And Pelosi? Go Cindy Sheehan!


And now I need to walk away from this thread.
posted by telstar at 11:46 AM on July 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Its not "the Other" we're destroying over there. Its real people, too.

It's not "the Other" you're destroying over there. It's your own.

There are about three hundred thousand Americans, enlisted and private mercenaries, who are over in Iraq witnessing and creating these atrocities.

Should the troops ever be withdrawn these people are coming back to your home towns.

Something to think about, that.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:51 AM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's just like how people in other countries think that the U.S. is just a bunch of fat people who shoot eachother on the freeways even though I don't know a single person who fits that description. But doing stories about violence and obesity in America make us look inferior.

umm... you should come live in my neighborhood. white america is a bunch of fatties shooting eachother and I'm not even talking about the South(tm).

I only watched the beginning of the film, because it was horrific, and I knew what was coming next, but the soldier who says that they've been on duty for 14 months, engaging every day-- that level of time spent continually in combat is unprecedented in the military history of the United States. It's far more time than any unit spent in combat in WWII; they would be rotated out every few weeks.

what is telling about this is that the central tenet of U.S. Army tactics is to maintain an "operational tempo" which will exhaust it's opponents. We are losing our own game.
posted by geos at 11:52 AM on July 14, 2007


This week the Los Angeles Times reported that the Green Zone had been hit by Katyusha rockets. (Earlier reports of Katyusha attacks.)

Is that true, or are the reporting inaccurate? (There have been reports of rocket attacks before, which I assumed meant RPGs, but why say Katyusha specifically if that's not what they are?) Are the insurgents really driving around in trucks with multiple rocket launchers despite our air cover, satellites, and drones?


"Katyusha" can informally mean the artillery rockets fired by Katyusha rocket launchers. After all, half the point is that the targets never see the launcher. There are plenty of references to Israel being "hit by Katyushas" but it's unclear whether Hezbollah really has any of the platforms.

I don't think there's any real chance they're driving around even one of the lower-profile multiple launchers. All they need is a simple setup as in this video. It's extremely low-tech (it's actually similar to a technique that the CIA taught Afghan forces ...) and highly portable. You get nearly nothing in terms of aiming, but with this sort of attack and a relatively large target such as the Green Zone you don't need it.

There was a 2005 incident where they found a launcher after an attack. It was a cart, with a donkey still attached.

The Iraqi army did have Katyusha systems that were used in both the 1991 and 2003 wars so it's a safe bet that there were plenty of munitions for them sitting around somewhere, such as those ammo dumps conveniently left unguarded.

I worry about Riverbend

Me too. Not even her publisher knows.
posted by dhartung at 11:59 AM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why are there no american news links being posted in his thread? Or aren't there any investigative reporters left in america?
posted by adamvasco at 12:03 PM on July 14, 2007


The seriousness of this tragedy will not be apparent to any of us for years to come. Evil is staring us square in the face, and we are made powerless by our own laws of governance.

The Democrats haven’t the spine to do the right thing, the Republicans would have to know right from wrong in the first place (and receive large payments) before they would do anything about it, and our media is too afraid of being called “liberal” to tell the truth of the matter.

Great fucking country we have here….
posted by rougy at 12:09 PM on July 14, 2007


Being a european I was wondering about just that adamvasco. Do US media report this?
posted by jouke at 12:10 PM on July 14, 2007


The US mainstream media do not report stuff like this. They either sanitize it or act as a propaganda machine. You would never see footage or reportage like this on any of the major US networks or their subsidiaries.
posted by exlotuseater at 12:20 PM on July 14, 2007


I just don't know what to say about that video ... that poor wailing old woman ... that taxi driver who chose the wrong street to work ... the Iraqi soldier caught in the ammo dump explosion, unsure of what to do with the meat that used to be his legs ... those broken soldiers who try to go on with their duty, knowing full well the civilian leadership could give a fuck about them ...

What the fuck kinda war is this? We've committed the bulk of our armed forces to an utterly pointless endeavor. Should any real threat arise, the military is stretched too thin to react.

All this blood and madness is to secure Iraq's oil, and we can't even manage that - meanwhile, the occupation devours our resources day by day, with nothing to show for it. Except for Halliburton's stock price, of course.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:26 PM on July 14, 2007


Why lotuseater?
posted by jouke at 12:33 PM on July 14, 2007


Oh, and to the Mefites outside of the US wondering about journalism here - our media is an unofficial (for now) public relations arm of the hopelessly corrupt government. Somewhere along the line, we confused news with entertainment. This time around, the propaganda wasn't quite as odious as the daily detonation reels we were shown during Gulf War I, but it isn't much better.

A couple years ago, Time magazine selected "The American Soldier" as their person of the year. I was chilled to the bone by the cover of that issue, because it looked just like all those "FORWARD THE RED ARMY" posters from Stalin's Russia.

So please, please, please make sure and watch the newscasts in your countries - keep them flush with ratings and successful enough to get their broadcasts into our borders, one way or another - it's the only way we stand a chance of knowing how the war's really going.

As for we Americans, go turn on Fox News right now. The last few times I've flipped past it this month, they've been reporting on Missing White Girls, developments in diesel technology and that silly bullshit going on with Miss New Jersey's Facebook pictures - basically anything but the war we're losing.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:35 PM on July 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Why are there no american news links being posted in his thread? Or aren't there any investigative reporters left in america?

A bunch of the links are originally from a Nation article that appeared a few days ago, and Democracy Now did a follow up.

Not that many people read the Nation or watch Democracy Now...
posted by homunculus at 12:56 PM on July 14, 2007


Er, a couple, not a bunch. The Nation deserves a lot of credit for doing that story.
posted by homunculus at 1:02 PM on July 14, 2007


You know I read these articles, watch these films, look at the pictures and I'm always outraged and frustrated and scared and exhausted by it all and just want it to be over. And then it occurs to me that I am sitting in my nice little apartment with all the comforts of home: good food, a warm bed, safety, security, my family close by, and I feel like a total shit. I cannot even begin to imagine how scared and angry and exhausted the people actually fighting this travesty of a war must feel.

We are breaking these people. The soldiers, the Iraqi civilians, all of them. We are turning them all into broken, shattered people.

I held out until the elderly woman sat down sobbing and then I just lost it. I managed to recover until the end of the film, where the young soldier was challenging someone - anyone - from Washington to come and ride along with him for fifteen months to see what it's really like. And all of the frustration and anger was so clear in his face and his voice. And then I lost it again. Fuck this war.
posted by LeeJay at 1:03 PM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


jouke, I think it's really complicated, but here's a few resources that are good starting points.

Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting: "What's Wrong with the News.

The Nation: Media Map (.pdf)

Mother Jones: Media Consolidation (.pdf)

Wikipedia entry on "Concentration of Media Ownership".

Berkley.edu's SIMS project, interactive media map.

self-link.

I think that there is a very complex relationship between corporate media and politics, and while there is no simple answer, the bottom line is that the media as a whole is beholden to so many other interests that they are incapable of being free from bias.

(recent related opinion from Michael Moore as featured on MeFi)
posted by exlotuseater at 1:17 PM on July 14, 2007 [4 favorites]


and yeah, seriously, fuck this war.
posted by exlotuseater at 1:22 PM on July 14, 2007


Thanks for the pointers ex.
You guys' checks & balances are all wacked.
posted by jouke at 1:27 PM on July 14, 2007


Meanwhile, back in the U.S., judges are increasingly using "terrorist enhancements" to punish people who commited property damage crimes but didn't injure anyone.

Burn down an American business and you're a terrorist. Shoot an Iraqi civilian, not so much.
posted by homunculus at 1:29 PM on July 14, 2007


In related news --

Iraqi Politicians Take August Off As US Soldiers Fight On
“The White House on Friday appeared resigned to the fact that the Iraqi parliament is going to take August off, even though it has just eight weeks to show progress on military, political and economic benchmarks prescribed by the United States.

‘My understanding is at this juncture they're going to take August off, but, you know, they may change their minds,’ White House press secretary Tony Snow said.

‘You know, it's 130 degrees in Baghdad in August,’ he said, sympathetically.

Snow was reminded that U.S. troops will be continuing to fight throughout August in the heat.

‘You know, that's a good point,’ Snow said. ‘And it's 130 degrees for the Iraqi military.’”
posted by ericb at 1:39 PM on July 14, 2007


I know I don't want some PTSD 20-something with the taste of blood and murder living next to me and my 2 year old daughter. I'd rather they just as soon take up residency in Iraq where their humanity was striped from them.
YMMV


Way to take responsibility, or do you think you are somehow innocent?
posted by Snyder at 1:40 PM on July 14, 2007


The real reason we're in Iraq:

“…today on the progressive radio program The Cappy McGarr Show, host Cappy McGarr reveals through a conversation with former Sen. Majority Leader Tom Daschle that in private, Bush’s real motivation was a personal vendetta:
‘Of all the reasons used to justify this awful war, the one that stunned me the most…and will shock you…was the one I heard from a close friend of mine former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. Senator Daschle was Majority Leader at the time.

The Senate and The House Leadership were meeting with President Bush for a weekly breakfast back then, and as our country was leading up to the Iraq war. … Bush got to talking about why we needed this war, and here’s what he said to Senator Daschle ‘We need to get Saddam Hussein…that Motherfucker tried to take out my Dad.’
Bush’s feelings for Saddam have long been intensely personal. In 2002, he said to CNN, ‘Oh, yes, I hate Saddam Hussein. I don’t hate a lot of people. I don’t hate easily.’ Six days later at a fundraiser in Texas, Bush said, ‘There’s no doubt he [Saddam] can’t stand us. After all, this is the guy that tried to kill my dad at one time.’ Bush was referring to an ‘alleged plot by Iraqi intelligence to assassinate Bush’s father.’

It’s troubling that Bush believed he could use U.S. troops as personal hitmen to avenge a grudge.”*
posted by ericb at 1:47 PM on July 14, 2007


Somebody should post a PTSD warning on that post. Seriously.
posted by Crackerbelly at 1:53 PM on July 14, 2007


You know I read these articles, watch these films, look at the pictures and I'm always outraged and frustrated and scared and exhausted by it all and just want it to be over. And then it occurs to me that I am sitting in my nice little apartment with all the comforts of home: good food, a warm bed, safety, security, my family close by, and I feel like a total shit. I cannot even begin to imagine how scared and angry and exhausted the people actually fighting this travesty of a war must feel.

Exactly. I feel helpless. I heard the latest Podcase of This American Life whose topic was "Who can we save?" A Civi commented how even though three of his first line relatives were in the military, and he himself served there, he has advised his son who has the option of a full college scholarship through the Navy and Army, NOT to serve.
posted by lonemantis at 1:56 PM on July 14, 2007


Can we survive this? I don't think we can.

(I wonder how the apologists for the neocons are going to feel once they find out they're going to be ground up by this machine, too, because the people you fellate don't think of you any differently than they think of the soldiers or the Iraqi civilians, in the long run.

And all this because you neocons are so insecure that doing something kind or thoughtful is equated with being unmanly or weak.)
posted by maxwelton at 2:00 PM on July 14, 2007


This is just great. Armchair strategists saying "if we would just use the tactics of the Nazi's, we would win." News flash: Germany did not win WWII.
posted by telstar at 12:32 PM on July 14 [+] [!]


Are you really this obtuse? Seriously, the Germans didn't lose the war because they didn't know how to take care of local populations. You really ought to read some history, or talk to some people that lived it, before you make stupid comments. The tactics the Germans used in Holland were pretty effective, my parents can tell you that directly.
posted by Eekacat at 2:03 PM on July 14, 2007


I wonder how the apologists for the neocons are going to feel once they find out they're going to be ground up by this machine

Like this.
posted by homunculus at 2:17 PM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Germany lost WWII largely because the megalomaniac in control of the country and the military did not know how to run a country or a military. Sound familiar?

Time and again we see accounts of German forces that, while superior on paper, were so poorly commanded that they didn't stand a chance. Had Paulus and the Sixth Army taken Stalingrad and the oil fields beyond, we'd probably all be speaking German. Had Hitler approved the pullout of the Sixth Army in a timely manner once it was clear that they didn't have the strength to dislodge the Red Army, then those soldiers could have been redeployed in time to help repel the D-Day invasion.

Instead, Hitler based his orders on pride and "gut feelings." Rather than accept defeat and approve a pullout, Hitler kept the Sixth Army out on the steppe to avoid losing face. In the months that followed, these veteran soldiers were boxed in and ground to pieces. They reached such a pitiful state that they were straining the corn from their shit to rinse off and eat again. And this is hardly an isolated incident. Time and again, we see Nazis losing battles because the German commanders had their hands tied by the deranged strategy of a leader who had no business leading them.

Hitler's arrogance and ignorance lost WWII more than the Allies won it. Superior weapons mean nothing if they are poorly deployed. We're watching history repeat itself right now - we've got all the weapons we could want, but we're losing the war in Iraq and "on terror" because Bush can't be bothered with making a proper plan.
posted by EatTheWeak at 3:02 PM on July 14, 2007 [7 favorites]


Instead, Hitler Bush baseds his orders on pride and "gut feelings." As does Michael Chertoff.
posted by ericb at 3:18 PM on July 14, 2007


Interesting comparison, EtW. Factor in Gran' pappy's involvement with Nazism and it becomes a little alarming.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:26 PM on July 14, 2007


The link, it is for amusement purposes only.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:27 PM on July 14, 2007


Absolutely ETW, I've heard it described that the Germans were phenomenal on tactics (the blitzkrieg) and poor on strategy (the Western front).
posted by quin at 3:30 PM on July 14, 2007


Video: Bush on Making Progress in Iraq.
posted by ericb at 3:40 PM on July 14, 2007


Oy! It occurs to me that most of us also continuously forget the massive refugee population the USA has created.

There are at least one million and as many as five million Iraqi refugees. A whole lot of 'em are in Syria, where I'm sure they're learning to be effective haters-of-the-USA; and many who escaped and landed somewhere better are still going to carry a lifelong bitterness.

What a colossally stupid thing to have done.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:05 PM on July 14, 2007


I just wanted to say thanks to all who keep posting great sources and citations in threads like this. I am in such a state of shock and horror over this war, that I typically don't participate in threads on it--I'm sort of beyond words at this point, only tears and anger at the awful absurdity of it all.

That documentary, though--I'll be sending that link to family and friends.
posted by LooseFilter at 4:09 PM on July 14, 2007


Had Hitler approved the pullout of the Sixth Army in a timely manner once it was clear that they didn't have the strength to dislodge the Red Army, then those soldiers could have been redeployed in time to help repel the D-Day invasion.

That would have been after they'd been encircled and would have had to fight their way through two Soviet lines and a Soviet winter? Because until then they held most of the city.

Bush is a fool, but your analogy isn't very good.
posted by Cyrano at 4:19 PM on July 14, 2007


The other I watched Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, which is about a young German girl who was executed for distributing anti-Nazi leaflets during World War II. Most of the movie is her being interrogated by the Gestapo after being arrested, and she's in a cell with a window and a bed, and they don't torture her (the movie's partly based on the notes from her interrogations). And I thought, how fucking sad is it that we can't treat prisoners as well as the fucking Gestapo? We're doing shit we executed the Nazis for.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:23 PM on July 14, 2007


While, broadly, the brutality of the Nazis was effective in dealing with insurgents in Eastern Europe, their approach of treating all Soviets as subhuman (b/c of racial superiority theories) served them very poorly on the Eastern Front – many of the Soviet citizens, who might have been ambivalent on which power-mad dictator to support, clearly saw that Hitler was much worse than Stalin as far as they were concerned, and Stalin was able to work this into a full defense of the Motherland even with the purges he was still carrying out.

I suppose there are some parallels, but the situation doesn't map very well on the current Iraq conflict. There are other, generally colonial, scenarios of mass slaughter and dispersal of indigenous populations, but those don't seem to apply either, since the (bizarre) goal of the Iraq war was to install an entirely willing, democratically elected satrapy protected by a massive American base against enemies who were never there.
posted by furiousthought at 4:39 PM on July 14, 2007


Eekacat, from the guardian article:

Fearing a backlash against [US soldiers] shootings of civilians, Lieutenant Morgenstein gave a class in late 2004 at his battalion headquarters in Ramadi to all the battalion's officers and most of its senior noncommissioned officers during which he asked them to put themselves in the Iraqis' place.

"I told them the obvious, which is, everyone we wound or kill that isn't an insurgent, hurts us," he said. "Because I guarantee you, down the road, that means a wounded or killed marine or soldier.... One, it's the right thing to do to not wound or shoot someone who isn't an insurgent. But two, out of self-­preservation and self-interest, we don't want that to happen because they're going to come back with a vengeance."

posted by telstar at 4:39 PM on July 14, 2007


Cyrano - They weren't encircled right away. There was a long period between the point their advance stalled and the closing of the kessel - Paulus asked Hitler for permission to withdraw over and over, and kept getting denied. During this stretch, it was absolutely possible to save the Sixth Army.

It wouldn't have been any picnic getting back to Europe, of course. They'd be pushing through the Russian winter, but they'd also be crossing ground they'd already conquered. The Russians would have likely pursued them, but there were other Nazi armies in Russia that could have covered their retreat. I'm trying to recall the name of the German general who tried to break the Sixth out of the kessel, but it escapes me - Mannstein, I think - would have been in just about the right spot to hobble the Russian's pursuit.

I kinda rushed through that post, my bad - it's just that when I was reading about Stalingrad this spring, I was quite disturbed by all the parallels to our present predicament - a vastly superior force stopped cold by guerilla warfare, then left to rot by a myopic tyrant.
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:43 PM on July 14, 2007


DO NOT WANT


(to the wrong-ass war---not the post)
posted by snsranch at 4:48 PM on July 14, 2007 [1 favorite]




Paulus asked Hitler for permission to withdraw over and over, and kept getting denied.

And, after they were surrounded, begged for permission to break out while he still had food and ammo. Hitler, again, ordered him to say.

Note that Hitler, after the German Sixth Army was surrounded, promoted Paulus to the rank of Generalfeldmarschall -- Field Marshall -- with the comment that no German Field Marshall had ever been captured. Paulus was supposed to fight to his own death or kill himself before capture.

Paulus comment: "I have no intention of shooting myself for that Bohemian corporal." Paulus, with was was left of the Sixth Army, surrendered two days later.

The cost of Hitler's folly at Stalingrad? 850,000 Axis casualties -- more than the entire losses of every war the United States had been involved in up to WWI -- and a good part of WWI. That one battled cost Germany more men than the *entire war* cost the United States.
posted by eriko at 5:30 PM on July 14, 2007


I just got back from fishing in Alaska. With us at camp was a guy who got back from Anbar about five months ago. He was six ten years younger than me - 33. But he looked five years older.

Now with us was my dad. We go to the Nushigak River every year to catch the King run. My dad is a three tour veteran of the Vietnam War. That's misleading. His first tour it wasn't a war. He was sent there as a Special Forces adviser in late 1962. The whole family was there (I've talked about it before) and it was a primo gig. Then the his next two tours (over the ensuing 12 years) the place progressively fell the fuck apart.

The reason I mention this is my old man wrote the proverbial book on counter-insurgency. Literally. It's why I know so much about this stuff. For Special Forces they compiled the definitive guide on how an insurgency grows and how it succeeds. In 1964 they essentially projected failure if the US military was going to embrace the classic US infantry occupation model. Nobody wanted to hear that. All the three stars wanted D-Day an shit like that.

Anyway. There we were sitting around with this kid from oregon who just got back from Iraq. Last year most of those other guys were die hard GOP but slightly neutered by how the war was going. The year before that it was all BOO-RAH let's kick AY-RAB ass! And every year my dad would tell them they didn't know shit. That they should be ashamed.

This year. It was fucking sober. Dead cold sober. There was none of that. And this kid and my dad sat there there and talked about what was going on in Iraq. God damed. The fucking liberals were right this kid says. They were right. I thought the camp was gonna riot. But they didn't.

And later as we bedding down trying to ignore the mosquitos and all the old dudes snoring in the tent and my old man leans over to where I can smell the tequila and he says...

" It's like a script.... that war... it's the same script...that's the shame of it. We already made those mistakes."
posted by tkchrist at 5:47 PM on July 14, 2007 [31 favorites]


What was absolutely stunning to me was hearing John McCain make one comparison after another with Vietnam and Cambodia and using that as a reason why we should stay!

Amazing. It made me thankful that his campaign imploded.
posted by empath at 6:00 PM on July 14, 2007


empath - right! ick~! What happened to 2000 McCain?
posted by EatTheWeak at 6:18 PM on July 14, 2007


The meaning of Starship Troopers is that war will make a fascist out of anyone.
posted by autodidact at 7:12 PM on July 14, 2007


"But each detail was for the best... It will give the Business a splendid new start. You will see."
posted by homunculus at 7:17 PM on July 14, 2007




GI hires hitman to shoot him in the leg so he doesn't have to return to Iraq.

Let's hope this doesn't become a trend.
But I'll bet the number will rise with a general draft.

(Why hasn't any presidential candidate even been asked about a draft? Is that the purple spotted monkey behind the big pink elephant no one wants to talk about?)
posted by Balisong at 8:25 PM on July 14, 2007


GI hires hitman to shoot him in the leg so he doesn't have to return to Iraq.

Reservist sues over fifth call to duty.
posted by ericb at 8:54 PM on July 14, 2007



Reservist sues over fifth call to duty.

Five times! That is so fucked up. But...

Guys have to know... they OWN you. You agree to it when you sign up. It's in the contract. It always has been. They could even reactivate my 75 year old father if they wanted to.

Enlistment is going to plummet. Military service tend to run in families. Everybody who has a father, mother, or an older brother or sister in Iraq is experiencing first hand what this war is doing and they are NOT going to sign up.
posted by tkchrist at 9:10 PM on July 14, 2007


It is because Americans never see this that the war drags on.

The cons will blame the failure of this war on the liberals.

We didn't click our ruby heels with enough earnestness.

Where have our heroes gone?
posted by rougy at 2:27 AM on July 15, 2007


Christopher Hitchens on the benefits of the Iraq war, September 2005:

(10) The training and hardening of many thousands of American servicemen and women in a battle against the forces of nihilism and absolutism, which training and hardening will surely be of great use in future combat.

Emphasis mine. The dehumanisation of participants in the Iraq war was foreseen and welcomed by at least one - and I expect many more - of its standard bearers. As another poster mentioned, one wonders what will happen when these "hardened" men and women return to their home towns. Remember, the Hitchens quote shows that for many this was not an unexpected or tragic byproduct of the war, it was a welcome result. Incredibly chilling.

Also, on Hitler's treatment of civilians and its effects on the war: yes, Hitler lost, but Stalin won. And his methods were the same, from Katyn on.

I read this piece (there was a feature in G2) on the Tube on the way to work a couple of days ago. Dreadful, shocking stuff. I wonder if Hitchens read it. Incredibly, his star is waxing again here as he promotes his new book and the Guardian gives him pages of room to write wistful pieces about Marx's journalism. Thinking about these things for too long really saps reason.
posted by WPW at 6:27 AM on July 15, 2007


"Star is waxing". Ugly imagery. I must have been reading too much Hitchens, resorting to such hackery.
posted by WPW at 6:28 AM on July 15, 2007


Enlistment is going to plummet. Military service tend to run in families. Everybody who has a father, mother, or an older brother or sister in Iraq is experiencing first hand what this war is doing and they are NOT going to sign up.

Army Misses Its June Goal for New Recruits
" The Army missed its recruiting goals in June for the second straight month, as rising casualties in Iraq and a strong economy at home kept the service from enlisting enough new soldiers, Pentagon officials said.

The Army fell more than 1,000 active duty recruits short of its June goal of 8,400, said a Pentagon official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the figures had not yet been formally released.

...The downturn is particularly worrisome to Pentagon officials, especially because it has come in the summer, when recruiters normally find more fresh high school graduates eager to join.

...Colonel Baggio said that — aside from those conflicts — recruiting had been hurt by the fact that 7 in 10 potential recruits in their late teens and early 20s do not meet Army standards, largely because they are too heavy or failed to graduate from high school.

Recruiting may also have been harmed by the fact that soldiers are now required to serve 15-month tours in Iraq or Afghanistan, an increase from the previous requirement of 12 months. The longer tours were imposed to sustain a Bush administration decision earlier this year to send an additional 30,000 troops to Iraq."
The 'Mommy Factor' to Blame
"With U.S. soldiers and Marines now serving 15-month combat tours, with casualties on the increase, and with deployments to a combat zone a virtual certainty for new soldiers, military experts blame the 'Mommy Factor' for the drop in new enlistments. If we can't blame the Army itself for this state of affairs, and apple pie won't do, I guess Mom is it."
posted by ericb at 6:44 AM on July 15, 2007


Beating Of Iraqis Became Routine.
posted by ericb at 6:46 AM on July 15, 2007






That's a very apt motto kirkaracha. Where is it from?
posted by jouke at 8:22 AM on July 15, 2007


"The beatings will continue until morale improves."

Previously at AskMetafilter: What is the origin of the phrase "the beatings will continue until morale improves". Google has failed me on this, only the hive mind will save me.
posted by ericb at 8:43 AM on July 15, 2007


Heh.
Very good.
posted by jouke at 9:17 AM on July 15, 2007




The talk about "Raw power to beat the insurgency" made me think of a story my grandfather told me. When he had a small farm in BC, he knew a middle aged man, who immigrated from Germany after WW2. My grandfather had served on a Corvette doing convoy escorts during the war and was curious about who he had been fighting. So one day he asked his German friend "What was it really like when the Nazi's were in power?". He reported that his friend paused and said "You know... the working man never had it so good as when Hitler was in power".

That's the other half of the equation that people miss. Not even the most ruthless and brutal dictators rules by fear alone. If they're good at what they do, they rule by making a large section of the population dependent on the state. And making sure that section of the population contains just about everyone who could pose a threat to you, the educated, the military, the security services or more generally the technocrats who run things on a day to day basis. And it doesn't matter whether we're talking about the Communist party, or the Ba'ath party or the Nazi party.

That's why America's occupation was doomed in the first six months. The Bush crew dismantled Saddam's patronage networks and replaced them with nothing at all. Which meant that there was almost no one in Iraq with a direct stake in the new government. And also means the US only has terror to work with.
posted by Grimgrin at 11:22 AM on July 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


Grimgrin. Great points.


Jim Webb rips into Graham for putting political words in our Soldiers’ mouths

Webb missed so many obvious opportunities to rub Grahams face in his own worthless shit.

Graham keeps harping about how the left "isn't considering the consequences of withdrawal..."

Webb should have said:

"How about the fucking consequences of an INVASION based on proven lies and an incompetent immoral occupation you Republican dip shit."
posted by tkchrist at 1:35 PM on July 15, 2007


Webb missed so many obvious opportunities to rub Grahams face in his own worthless shit.

That was my reaction, too, especially when Graham had the audacity to ask, of our servicemen, "then why do they keep going back?", as if repeated 12-15 month tours in a hellish war zone are a matter of fucking choice.

Webb responded with something like 'they go back because they love their country,' etc., when he should have said "why do they go back? That's the dumbest thing you've asked all morning, senator, they go back because they are compelled to by the law...." and then proceeded with his other, very salient, points.
posted by LooseFilter at 2:31 PM on July 15, 2007


Webb should have pointed out that just a few days ago Graham voted against giving soldiers more rest time between deployments. Graham is full of shit, but he just kept talking over Webb, who didn't seem to know how to handle it and got flustered. I think he was struggling not to smack Graham upside the head.
posted by homunculus at 3:10 PM on July 15, 2007


Graham is another scumbag piece of shit, selling out the lives of soldiers for his crass political ambition. Just for once, I would like to see someone like Webb grab that chickenshit by the throat, pull a nice big buck blade out of his pocket, and bleed the fucker but good. We should offer these republicon assholes up to the Iraqi people as payback for all the civilians killed in this illegal, immoral "war".
posted by dbiedny at 4:44 PM on July 15, 2007


Shit, that just might work. Kills two birds with one stone, so to say.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:03 PM on July 15, 2007


Just one flaw in your plan: what do you do once the mid-East is peaceful toward you?
posted by five fresh fish at 5:05 PM on July 15, 2007






The Senate and The House Leadership were meeting with President Bush for a weekly breakfast back then, and as our country was leading up to the Iraq war. … Bush got to talking about why we needed this war, and here’s what he said to Senator Daschle ‘We need to get Saddam Hussein…that Motherfucker tried to take out my Dad.’

Well, no sh*t, Joe Friday...even my soon-to-be-ex knew that was the reason back around Xmas 2002, and she's one of the more geopolitically and historically clueless people I've ever known.
posted by pax digita at 7:53 PM on July 15, 2007


I still cannot believe that we invaded a sovereign nation. It just makes me so fucking sick, I could just fucking die. This nation used to have a brain. I could just fucking die.
posted by GoodDesign at 8:09 PM on July 15, 2007


I'm so sad.
posted by trip and a half at 9:34 PM on July 15, 2007


That was my reaction, too, especially when Graham had the audacity to ask, of our servicemen, "then why do they keep going back?", as if repeated 12-15 month tours in a hellish war zone are a matter of fucking choice.

Webb responded with something like 'they go back because they love their country,' etc., when he should have said "why do they go back? That's the dumbest thing you've asked all morning, senator, they go back because they are compelled to by the law...." and then proceeded with his other, very salient, points.


Graham was talking about reinlistment, that is, people rejoining the military after their terms are completely done. They're not legally compelled to do that. That said, I doubt the reenlistment rate is anywhere near a majority of troops. A lot of troops are told that if they reinlist they'll get a chance to serve elsewhere, out of Iraq, whereas if they don't they can theoretically be called back from the reserve force where they might go to Iraq.
posted by delmoi at 9:50 PM on July 15, 2007


Dehydration deaths of women in the US Military who are so afraid to go to the latrine at night that they're not drinking liquids.

Yet another reason to bring the military home, rehabilitate them, and reformulate the strategy with which the USA approaches global issues.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:17 PM on July 15, 2007


Cheney pushes Bush to act on Iran (and Sen. Brownback can't wait).
posted by homunculus at 9:58 AM on July 16, 2007




“I know I don't want some PTSD 20-something with the taste of blood and murder living next to me and my 2 year old daughter. I'd rather they just as soon take up residency in Iraq where their humanity was striped from them.”

Perhaps we can write into their enlistment contracts that we get to kill them after they’ve fought our wars for us. Or should it just be a surprise? Although we’d have to get someone to kill them for us. And then those people would have the taste of blood...hmm... you kind run out of proxies there. Still, it’s all worth it if we can keep driving our Hummers.
(My kids are just fine, happy and healthy and so are the neighbors’ btw)

“As another poster mentioned, one wonders what will happen when these "hardened" men and women return to their home towns.”

Well, we certainly won’t HELP them reclaim their humanity or anything silly like that, will we. (not directed at you or anyone in particular, but this thought is gaining popularity)
And not defending Hitchens of course, but the mistake is the same.
Arguing over what’s to be done with other people and how to run their lives and in Hitchen’s case perpetuating the war machine by hardening future generations never mind that he didn’t have the time for that himself.

Meanwhile when it comes time for compassion it’s all for some people in another country but where was it BEFORE the fucking war was started?
I respect the people who protest the school of the americas and oppose war on GP, but most people only start to care when the “crazy” vet is dumped in their backyards and even then it’s all this political bullshit not action.
All the talk about compassion goes out the window when it comes time to actually help someone. It’s very easy to see an atrocity and say it’s terrible and feel bad about it. But these people are thousands of miles away. Unless one hops on a plane and volunteer with doctors without boarders or the red cross or red crescent or whatever, you’re never going to see them.
And not one iota of real effort inspired by compassion is going to be devoted to mitigating the effects of the war.

The returning soldier though, you can actually help. You can actually show him compassion and help him so that you have another anti-war voice rather than a burned out drunk or addict or headcase, whatever.
But y’know, fuck him right? Because he’s not a victim. He’s some inhuman frat boy (they all are) undeserving of help.
And maybe in some cases that’s true. There are some real bastards out there and maybe the vet in your neighborhood was one of them. Whether that is true or not, really, it’s so much easier not to find out though isn’t it?
It’s so much easier to put compassion and empathy on a case by case basis where we can arbitrate how we dole it out. Especially when it’s impotent.
Because then we might actually have to do something to heal the pain of this war instead of looking at something tragic and thinking we’re all such wonderful people for empathizing.
“Gee, I feel really bad for that woman.”
Ten minutes, an hour, the next day, later back to our lives doing whatever and fearing the returning soldier as human pollution, fall out from a war we never wanted but somehow just sort of happened. And since it’s someone else’s fault, it’s not our problem then.
If we’re going to let fear stop us from doing anything we should get a fucking helmet and sit in our closets under a blanket.
Afraid the vet in your town might be crazy violent? Start a program to help him. Think he might be a war criminal? Find out instead of just leering at him through the shades and obsessing over minutiae like why he orders pizza so much or can’t have a relationship. He’s not on T.V. like in the war, he can fucking see you.
The vibe Hutchins is putting out and this apprehension of the returning vet are two sides to the same coin.
Treating people like some sort of tooled “other.” We can’t all help some Iraqi woman under fire, but we can engage or embrace the people in our backyard. That can lead to a more positive outcome from this tragifuck of a war. And all this anger, well, y’know, that’s swell. Bushco deserves it. But it’s not what gets productive things done. Anger helps facilitate wars in the first place.
And it’s not that failure isn’t an option. Failure has already occured. Not dealing with it isn’t an option. Anger isn’t going to help that.

“It's like a script.... that war... it's the same script...that's the shame of it. We already made those mistakes.”

I don’t know that it’s a mistake that it’s the same script.
Oh, I agree with your dad. But I think it’s that the country that keeps falling for the same script. And that is a shame. And, too, really f’ing weird. Although I suppose they’ve had time to refine the magic act since Vietnam. Explains the lack of effect of protest. I suspect the silence on any kind of draft has to do with that. Someone else’s kid? No problem. But start talking draft and people suddenly find they’re really concerned and really hate war.
Funny how the script on the home front is pretty similar too.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:47 PM on July 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


No End In Sight
posted by homunculus at 5:53 PM on July 16, 2007


ABC News had an edited version of the Guardian documentary on today. I gather that they're going to show the whole thing on Nightline tonight.
posted by homunculus at 5:55 PM on July 16, 2007




Miss Lynster

I've mentioned this at least once before but back in WWII the Doughboys were issued with little booklets like this. What's to say we don't print a few out and send them over there? Clearly what little cultural training is being given doesn't seem to have had an effect at all.
posted by longbaugh at 5:02 AM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I just stumbled onto this post - thanks for it, jouke.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:57 AM on August 8, 2007


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