Thursday, August 14, 2003

Some selected quotes from a front page article(To Mollify Iraqis, U.S. Plans To Ease Scope Of Its Raids) in last Thursday’s NYT’s…

-BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 6- The American military, in a major revision of strategy, has decided to limit the scope of its raids in Iraq after receiving warning from Iraqi leaders that they were alienating the public, the top allied commander said today.

-It was a fact that I started to get multiple indicators that maybe our iron-fisted approach to the conduct of op was beginning to alienate Iraqis,” General Sanchez said, referring to military operations. “I started to get those sensing from multiple sources, all the way from the Governing Council down to average people.

-…Iraqis have complained that during these raids too many of those rounded up by American troops were not Baath Party operatives but ordinary citizens. They say the American tactics have been too aggressive and not sensitive enough to Iraqi culture and traditions.

-…the new American approach also reflects a recognition that widespread raids could unintentionally be creating a reservoir of support for the insurgents or even spurring revenge attacks by ordinary citizens.

(Here comes the whopper, hold on…)

-The general added that Iraqi leaders who supported the allies had indicated they understand the goal of the American raids, but that some had expressed concern over their effects on the Iraqi population.

(Here it comes…)

Their message, he said, has been that “when you take a father in front of his family and put a bag over his head and put him on the ground, you have had a significant adverse effect on his dignity and respect in the eyes of his family.” General Sanchez said the message from the Iraqis was that in doing this, you create more enemies than you capture.

Sheesh! It’s a good thing Lt. Gen. Sanchez has those insightful and supportive leaders keeping him up to date on those exotic and downright bizarre Iraqi cultural traditions! Here in the United States, having a group of nervous and ornery 20-somethings raid a nice little suburban home in a gated community replete with their M-16’s cocked and trigger fingers itching is, granted, a rare thing, but perfectly acceptable. It’s the price we pay for our freedom, you know? And to imagine that any young, corn-fed father, dragged from his bed in the middle of the night, a burlap sack placed tightly over his head and thrown down on that perfectly manicured lawn of his and interrogated by gunpoint would feel anything but calm, rational understanding (his wife and kids, one imagines, might raise their sleepy heads amidst the ruckus only to sheepishly smile in patriotic acquiescence once they took in the scene of their husband/father being dragged away by the freedom fighters) is hard to imagine. “How can I help you fellas,” he might helpfully offer. We’re used to this iron-fisted approach. The Iraqi’s however, having never tasted sweet freedom, obviously don’t understand that we just want to help them. We’ve got a great big old super-sized order of Freedom for them. Do they want fries with that, or are they going to want something totally weird like, say, hummus?

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