Guide For US Forces Serving In Iraq…1943.

December 5, 2008

I came across this depressing piece from the NY Times’s Baghdad Bureau. A publisher has reissued the US troop manual for serving in Iraq from – wait for it – 1943, during the Second World War. Apparently some of the lessons they knew quite well then (including the fact that it is pronounced i-RAHK and not EYE-RAK) were lost in the intervening 60 years between that war and the current one. Excerpted from the book:

Iraq is a “harsh, hot, parched, dusty, and inhospitable land.”

“That tall man in the flowing robe you are going to see soon, with the whiskers and the long hair, is a first-class fighting man, highly skilled in guerrilla warfare. Few fighters in any country, in fact, excel him in that kind of situation. If he is your friend, he can be a staunch and valuable ally. If he should happen to be your enemy, lookout!”

“You aren’t going to Iraq to change the Iraqis. Just the opposite.”

“The Moslem bible is known as the Koran and the Moslems worship in mosques (mosks). They are very devout in their religion and do not like to have ‘unbelievers’ (to them you are an ‘unbeliever’) come anywhere near their mosques. You can usually tell a mosque by its high tower. Keep away from mosques.”

The Times sums up my sentiments exactly:

“Perhaps the most depressing reaction was that of the NYT’s Iraqi newsroom coordinator as he leafed through the book’s pages in the Baghdad Bureau today.

‘They knew all these things before? So why…….?'”

You can get the book off Amazon for $15.

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