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Minstrel Boy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 08:58 AM
Original message
"The mean streets of Baghdad"
From today's Asia Times, by Pepe Escobar.


BAGHDAD - Ahmad, a 23-year-old Jordanian student, stepped out of his apartment in Haifa Street this past Saturday morning to hail a taxi, but he was confronted by a US checkpoint. "Move your ass from here," a GI ordered him. "Don't talk to me like that. I'm not your slave," answered Ahmad. "Aren't you? taunted the GI. Ahmad rose to the bait and answered back, so the outcome was inevitable. He was arrested.

Ahmad was kept in a Hummer for two hours, and then taken to the main building at Baghdad (former Saddam) International Airport. A translator said to him, "Are you crazy? Never talk to these people, whatever they say to you." Ahmad finally managed to show the translator his Jordanian identity card. The Americans were not convinced. "What are you doing in Iraq? Are you a fedayeen ?" Ahmad replied that he was a student, and showed his university papers. The Americans said these might be fake.

...

Last month, Nudir, a young engineer, was arrested with two friends in a BMW because GIs found a revolver in the glove compartment: practically every Iraqi carries a gun for self-defense. Nudir says he was beaten up by the soldiers and then spent 16 days in Camp Cropper, the prison inside the airport grounds that Ahmad was lucky not to see.

US repression is relentless. Red Cross officials confirm that more than 20,000 people have been arrested in Baghdad in the past few months. Most come and go - but there's no way to keep tabs on all the cases: there are no functioning courts and judges. Amnesty International has already denounced cases of "torture", and an unknown number of Iraqi civilians have been gunned down by US search patrols. The bunkered-down Coalition Provisional Authority simply refuses to mention how many Iraqi civilians are being shot or killed every day - either victims of crime or victims of US repression. Like the Iraqi interpreter killed by an American soldier in the front seat of a car occupied by Pietro Cordone, the Italian diplomat who is the official adviser to the new Iraqi Ministry of Culture. Baghdadis take for granted that American soldiers are now free to shoot civilians in any Iraqi civilian vehicle if they look even remotely suspicious.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EI23Ak01.html
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Mari333 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 09:07 AM
Response to Original message
1. Good Morning Vietnam.
Teenagers with guns (US troops) who have no clue whatsoever as to the culture of Iraq, and have never been processed or educated as to how to behave, in conditions that are horrible, in a war that should have never happened, etc etc etc

A Nightmare. History repeats itself again.
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Samaka 3ajiba Donating Member (37 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 10:14 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. US troops aren't saints!
Edited on Mon Sep-22-03 10:15 AM by Samaka 3ajiba
The excerpts in the article clearly describe of power-hungry bigots with guns. I'm sick of people making excuses for members of the military, painting them as helpless culture-ignorant "precious" kids who are opposed to the war and the opportunity to shoot Arabs.

While there may be some who fit that description, there are clearly many who seem to be enjoying the opportunity for trigger-happy thuggery.

Blind support of the troops simply to avoid the "political" mistakes of Vietnam is just as repulsive as the brand of jingoism practiced by the freepers.
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newyawker99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 11:46 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. Hi Samaka 3ajiba!!
Welcome to DU!! :toast:
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IrateCitizen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 11:57 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. I'm not one to defend the type of behavior described in the article...
... but it helps to look at things from the POV of those serving over there right now.

First, many (perhaps even the majority) of those in Iraq did NOT want to go there. But now they're stuck, with people taking pot shots at them every day. They can't differentiate friend from foe. They've been ripped away from their families and don't even know when they are coming home, with the extensions of tours and such. Finally, they're living in an environment in which they have NONE of the creature comforts of home -- where it feels like walking around in a blast furnace mid-afternoon.

I'm not going to excuse the behavior described in the article -- if I were the officer in charge of them and it got back to me, I'd be looking at administering some serious reprimands. But it also helps to note the environment in which many of these kids are forced to operate.

It's not about excusing bad behavior. It's not about justifying why we're there. It's about looking at a situation that is completely fucked up, and realizing that most of those who are there don't necessarily want to be, and they are being fucked in the process.
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Samaka 3ajiba Donating Member (37 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 12:15 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. "I'm not one to defend the behavior of the Iraqi Resistence...
Edited on Mon Sep-22-03 12:16 PM by Samaka 3ajiba
... but it helps to look at things from the POV of the Iraqis living under US occupation.

First, many (perhaps even the majority) of those in Iraq are generally peaceful even when faced with daily degradation by US troops. But now they're stuck, with the prospect of daily checkpoints, spotty electricity, water and food and no real opportunities for a consistent income to feed their families. The US soldiers can't differentiate friend from foe and too frequently end up shooting civilians. Family members are randomely arrested and incarcerated in prisons and they don't even know when they are coming home. Finally, they're living in an environment in which they have no basic essentials let alone creature comforts -- it feels like walking around in a blast furnace mid-afternoon.

I'm not going to excuse the behavior described in the article -- if I were Iraqi, I'd cheer every time a faction of the resistence struck a blow to the occupation and their puppet government. But it also helps to note the environment in which many of the Iraqis are living in an unbearable quagmire, fearing death at every moment, their loyalties constantly questioned by the coalition forces and the Iraqi resistence.

It's not about excusing bad behavior. It's not about justifying why Iraqis shoot at US GI's. It's about looking at a situation that is completely fucked up, and realizing that most of those who live under US occupation don't necessarily want to be, and they are being fucked in the process.
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IrateCitizen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 12:19 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. I'm not disagreeing with you on this...
When I was speaking of a situation that was completely fucked, I was talking about how it is for BOTH sides of the occupation -- not to mention how it is the overwhelming majority of people on BOTH sides of the occupation who are being fucked.

IOW, both the overwhelming majority of US soldiers AND Iraqis. Never did I, nor would I, deny that the Iraqis are not at all happy about living under an occupation by the US.
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Samaka 3ajiba Donating Member (37 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 12:27 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. As bad as conditions are for US GI's...
don't you think the conditions are at least ten times worse for average Iraqis living under US occupation?

To most Arabs, the correlation and similarity between the US occupation in Iraq and the Israeli occupation in Palestine is striking. Even the news images are the same... you can barely tell the difference unless there is a caption.

Whereas the US used to be somewhat of an outside player accused mostly of supporting Israel, now it has become a second Israel in the Middle East. An colonizer that openly flaunts international conventions much like Israel was at its inception, and continues to be to a much lesser degree today.

So much for the American of Woodrow Wilson.
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IrateCitizen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 12:41 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. I'm not going to get into an argument over degrees of hardship
The fact of the matter is that it absolutely sucks for all parties involved in this, on the ground. And even if things are worse for the Iraqis -- which they are -- it doesn't mean that there is any LESS stress on the soldiers who were sent over there.
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nolabels Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 12:36 PM
Response to Original message
8. The spiral is downward, the arrogance of * will make it worse
Edited on Mon Sep-22-03 12:38 PM by nolabels
A lot these guys are going to get to point of a year or so and have no replacements for them. Most GI's know that is hell.

http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0920-02.htm
Stretched Thin, Lied to & Mistreated
On the ground with US troops in Iraq

by Christian Parenti

An M-16 rifle hangs by a cramped military cot. On the wall above is a message in thick black ink: "Ali Baba, you owe me a strawberry milk!"

It's a private joke but could just as easily summarize the worldview of American soldiers here in Baghdad, the fetid basement of Donald Rumsfeld's house of victory. Trapped in the polluted heat, poorly supplied and cut off from regular news, the GIs are fighting a guerrilla war that they neither wanted, expected nor trained for. On the urban battlefields of central Iraq, "shock and awe" and all the other "new way of war" buzzwords are drowned out by the din of diesel-powered generators, Islamic prayer calls and the occasional pop of small-arms fire.

Here, the high-tech weaponry that so emboldens Pentagon bureaucrats is largely useless, and the grinding work of counterinsurgency is done the old-fashioned way--by hand. Not surprisingly, most of the American GIs stuck with the job are weary, frustrated and ready to go home.

It is noon and the mercury is hanging steady at 115 Fahrenheit. The filmmaker Garrett Scott and I are "embedded" with Alpha Company of the Third Battalion of the 124th Infantry, a Florida National Guard unit about half of whom did time in the regular Army, often with elite groups like the Rangers. Like most frontline troops in Iraq, the majority are white but there is a sizable minority of African-American and Latino soldiers among them. Unlike most combat units, about 65 percent are college students--they've traded six years with the Guard for tuition at Florida State. Typically, that means occasional weekends in the Everglades or directing traffic during hurricanes. Instead, these guys got sent to Iraq, and as yet they have no sure departure date.

Mobilized in December, they crossed over from Kuwait on day one of the invasion and are now bivouacked in the looted remains of a Republican Guard officers' club, a modernist slab of polished marble and tinted glass that the GIs have fortified with plywood, sandbags and razor wire
(snip)

To heap in on, see how * negotiates

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3127798.stm
France lifts veto threat on Iraq

The US wants other countries to commit troops and money to Iraq
France will not veto a US-backed Security Council resolution on the future of Iraq, President Jacques Chirac has said.
The United States circulated a draft text for a resolution earlier this month but it has not yet been put to a vote.

"I have no intention of opposing the resolution... I am not in that mind-set at all," the French leader told the New York Times newspaper in an interview published on Monday.

Paris had earlier criticised Washington's efforts to get United Nations backing for an multinational occupation force, demanding instead a more rapid transfer of power from the coalition forces to an Iraqi Government.

I do think it would be helpful to get the United Nations in to help write a constitution. I mean, they're good at that


US President George W Bush, for his part, said on Sunday that he did not consider it essential to give the UN a greater role in Iraq in the short-term.
(snip)

On Edit: last story needed link


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