Tuesday, August 28, 2007

It's bad. Yet, ...

Michael Totten gets to visit Mushadah, a village north of Baghdad where the Anbar Effect really hasn't arrived. The people he talks to are, despite their current reality, optimistic, which may be an indication that things are on the up, or merely another instance of that old adage that hope is the last thing to die.

On the way, we learn about the unfairness of Life: the Shia militia get the superior EFPs (Explosively Formed Penetrators) from Iran whereas the Sunni/al-Queda only have IEDs.

We get instruction in sophisticated emergency survival techniques.

“Everybody remember what to do if someone throws a grenade in the truck?”

No, I did not remember. It is not something anyone ever taught me.

“Yell grenade grenade grenade and get the hell out as quickly as possible. If you don’t have time to get out, turn your back to the blast and hope for the best.”

We get yet another instance of the obvious, a theme today. Some things don't require cultural sensitivity as much as attentiveness at the movies.

Civilians cooperate as much as security on the streets will permit them. The dynamic here isn’t all that hard to understand, or even that foreign. If you want to see how this has played out in America, watch Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront, the classic film from 1954 starring Marlon Brando about the mafia’s infiltration of a longshoreman’s union. No one in that story wanted to cooperate with the police in their murder investigations against the mob because they were terrified of being “next” if they did.

And see why the Americans are starting to get somewhere in Iraq: they're working for basic human needs instead of against them. Colonel John Steele, from Dover, New Hampshire.

“I am optimistic,” he said. “But only for one single reason. Because I talk to the average Joe in Iraq. I meet the children and parents. Iraqi parents love their children as much as I love mine.”

I knew what he meant. Counterintuitive and contradictory as it may seem, I never felt more optimistic in Iraq than I did when I walked the streets and interacted with average Iraqis. Iraq looks more doomed from inside the base than it does outside on the street, and it looks more doomed from across the Atlantic than it does from inside the base.

Read the lot. With Totten and Yon, you see an Iraq that the MSM never show.

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