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Watched The Incredibles on DVD today. Great film, easily worth the five bucks I paid for it. The only drawback is this new technique American filmmakers have adopted where they make a movie, then videotape a showing of it in a theater and then release that version of it. Must be the new craze; every movie I've seen since arriving in Iraq has used the technique...
Yes, of course I'm kidding. I mean, there are no pirated movies in Iraq! There are no Tanks in Baghdad! The Americans are roasting in the fires of hell...!
Damn, now you won't know what to believe. I've gone and damaged my credibility; become uncredible, if you will...
Hey, is Washington Post Staff Writer Bradley Graham a reader here? Just curious, because he seems to have built this story around the theme Russ Vaughn used in filling Mrs. G's request for a Thanksgiving poem:
A Sharp Shift From Killing to Kindness
U.S. Troops in Iraq Torn by Competing Needs to Battle Insurgents and Win Over Populace
BAGHDAD -- For Army Capt. Rex Blair, the contrast was jarring.
One minute a few weeks ago he was handing candy to a little girl in a southern Baghdad neighborhood. Then, suddenly, he received word over his military radio that a U.S. patrol had been ambushed along the Tigris River a couple of miles away. One soldier was dead, five were wounded.
Blair and his unit rushed to the scene, as did other nearby members of the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment. They overwhelmed the insurgents and easily won the battle. But Blair discovered that the U.S. soldier who had died was a close friend.
The next day, he was back trying to assist Iraqis by paving a road and installing a water pump.
Here's an excerpt from Russ's version:
How can you warriors fight through the night,
Then hand out food when comes the light?
Unlike other armies, you American G.I.'s
Are not viewed with fear by civilian eyes.
Other nations see this and are amazed
Not us, we know it's how you're raised.
Wherever you serve, the world can see,
You're the fine result of our democracy.
And as Americans know and Russ explains here, this is absolutely not a new phenomenon. Quoting Stephen Ambrose: "When soldiers from any other army, even our allies, entered a town, the people hid in the cellars. When Americans came in, even into German towns, it meant smiles, chocolate bars and C-rations."
The cliché American GI - alive and well, and hat tip to the Washington Post for not being afraid to say so.
Another cliché came to life for me today. I was talking to one of the troops who spends a considerable amount of time working with non-military/non-government Iraqis in a very public location. I was concerned for how he was eating, since he was far from a DFAC and local diets can sometimes produce unwanted reactions in tourists and other invaders - something we already call "Saddam's Revenge". This guy was a recent arrival, and I wanted to make sure he knew where to get MREs to take with him for lunch.
"No," he explained to my mild horror, "I've been eating with the Iraqis. Every day one of the guys brings the food for everyone. A different guy every day. Then we all eat lunch together." He went on to explain he ate only fully cooked foods, avoiding fresh raw vegetables that might have been washed in local water and anything he couldn't readily identify.
"So how do they like having you as an extra mouth to feed?" I asked.
"They love it. Man, being with those guys has completely changed my view of everything we're doing here."
"They just love us so much. They're so thankful we're here..."
I didn't ask for clarification of the "changed my view" remark, just prompted him for more. "Really?"
"Yea, they used to live in constant fear that they might screw up and end up dead for it. Now they know it's still dangerous but they have hope for the future. No, they think we're great. They're glad we're here."
Damn, from time to time you read about Iraqis expressing appreciation for us, but every time you actually hear it from yet another person you get a great feeling, followed shortly after by a question of "why the hell doesn't this sort of story get told more often in the press back home?!? Now here's an American who to some degree has had his views on the war altered by Iraqis! The Iraqis who are feeding him! A guy who even though he's military has until now only had press reports of the war to help him form an opinion.
And yes, I'm going to make sure the local chapter of the Michael Moore fan Club gets to hear from this guy first hand.
So take heart, America, you have the incredibles; the Washington Post is starting to read like Mudville, and average Iraqis are converting lukewarm Americans to enthusiastic supporters of their struggle for freedom. Maybe soon letters to the editor like this one in the Washington Times (from an individual I do not know) will become unnecessary:
As a soldier on the ground in Baghdad, I greatly appreciated Helle Dale's column ("Biased coverage in Iraq," Wednesday, Op-Ed). As sad as I am to say it, the media's bias here is willful. I'm here at what used to be Saddam Hussein's presidential palace, now the U.S. Embassy in the green zone.
The media has an office here in the palace. They see the same things I see, talk to the same people I do, hear the same rumors, etc. Yet they consciously omit the good things. I see it every day, and I find it sickening. I'm also one of those soldiers you mentioned who is constantly having to explain to the folks back home what's really happening here. I shouldn't have to do that. The Iraqi people, at least here in Baghdad, are thrilled that we're here and extremely grateful for what we're doing for them. There's no shortage of them who are more than willing to tell their stories to the media, or anyone who'll listen. Please write more about this subject because the major media refuse.
SGT. PATRICK OWEN, Baghdad
The word is getting out. We're winning. You can't hide that fact forever.
Not if you care about damaging your credibility.
The villian SYNDROME looks to me like MICHEAL MOORE with his beard shaved off and i just wonder if they did,nt patern him after moore and they also villifi lawyers another great ideaPosted by blue eagle at December 6, 2004 02:38 PM
Did you see Sen. Bidens comments?
"We've won everything we've tried to do, including Fallujah," Biden told ABC's "This Week." "But then we've lacked the resources to secure what we've won. And we're still paying an awesome price for the initial failures on policy of this administration, of going in with too little power and too little legitimacy."
Biden had just returned from a trip to Iraq with his Senate Foreign Relations Committee colleague Chuck Hagel, who told reporters on Thursday, "I did not find one commander who said to me, 'We're winning.'"
Biden said he agreed with that assessment, telling "This Week," "That's clearly my impression."
On the prospects for a successful Iraqi election in January, the Delaware Democrat was equally pessimistic, saying: "Success is still possible, but it is receding rapidly. It is being made much more difficult. And anybody who tells you - like we were told just prior to the November election - that Iraq is more secure, that is simply not true. Not true."
He predicted that American forces would continue to take an increasing number of casualties in Iraq, saying: "We have to level with the American people. This is going to be incredibly painful."
Biden's assessment, however, was contradicted by Pentagon officials, who said last week that attacks against U.S. forces had actually plummeted sharply in the wake of the Fallujah victory.
"Military officials report that attacks across all of Iraq have dropped from 130 to 50 per day," NBC's Pentagon correspondent, Jim Miklaszewski, reported on Monday.
The Delaware Democrat's pessimistic view also didn't jibe with comments from enemy leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who candidly admitted two weeks ago in an audiotaped message posted to an Islamic Web site that his forces were on the ropes after suffering a devastating defeat in Fallujah.
"Hundreds of thousands of the nation's sons are being slaughtered at the hands of the infidels," an alarmed Zarqawi announced.
Blaming Sunni clerics for not supporting his reign of terror, the enemy leader complained that U.S. forces were "inflicting the worst suffering, cutting the throats of the holy warriors."
"This Week" host George Stephanopoulos opted not to ask Sen. Biden about either the declining attack numbers or Zarqawi's admission of defeat.Posted by golf pro at December 6, 2004 07:14 PM
This is all about 'context'. I've spoken to Iraqis in Baghdad on days when there's been '5 car bombs ripped throughout the city' - asked them about it - and they laugh at me because they don't know what I'm talking about. Baghdad is the size of Los Angeles. The entire country is the size of California. When the L.A. riots happened - I'm sure people in San Diego or San Francisco weren't worried it would 'spread' to them. It's ridiculous. I've explained this notion before to skeptical friends and family - and when I do - then they 'get it'. But if you only had the news to rely on - you'd be worried. Omar at Iraq the Model when visiting Jordan only had access to CNN and Al-Jazeera - he said he was fully expecting Baghdad to be GONE. But when he got home-he realized he had fallen victim to the media.Posted by Kathleen A at December 7, 2004 12:17 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(3) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)