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The War Nerd July 10, 2003
 
Iraq: the “Duh!” Theory
By Gary Brecher Browse author Email
 
Page 2 of 3
 
Another thing, invasions do a lot of damage. We knocked out all the power stations in Iraq, so there's no electricity. And it's the middle of summer. That means no air conditioning. The temperature gets up to 125 in Baghdad in the summer, and no AC. That'd be enough to turn me into a suicide bomber. Even more so because from the pictures I see, Iraqis seem pretty fat. And like I said in my last column, heat is a lot worse for fat people.

So the "liberators" have knocked off the power, cratered the roads, blasted the TV stations. Most of the locals hate us already but couldn't do anything about it. In that first phase, the invasaion, there's no way to get at the Americans. They holed up in their tanks and APCs, or blasted you from the sky. But once invaders turn occupiers, they're way, way more vulnerable. There are a couple of privates checking IDs at every streetcorner. Just standing there like targets. Or driving by in Humvees -- and if you saw Blackhawk Down, you know what an RPG can do to a Humvee.

So the local hothead blasts a Humvee. The "liberators" get pissed off and start kicking in doors, beating up anybody who looks suspicious. And here's the key: they always get it wrong. They can't help it. They don't speak the language. They can't read people like you can in your own country. So they beat up the wrong people and the real killers sit home laughing. Then the liberators get really pissed and they shoot 18 people at a demonstration. Those were probably the harmless ones, the moderates. But now their relatives want revenge and they don't mean more demonstrations. So the liberators haven't caught the real killers but they have managed to turn everybody else into a radical.

And how hard is it to turn a 17-year-old into a guerrilla? Man, if they'd had that option when I was a senior I never would've had to take another vocational aptitude test. "Guerrilla fighter" would've been my first, second and third choice. Now there are hordes of Iraqi teenagers with no jobs and no money who get the chance to fire at Americans on the streets where the USAF can't swoop down on them. And if they shoot at a GI on sentry duty and miss, they run off down the alley. That leaves the GI with a choice of either just letting the bastard get away to take another shot at him next day, or emptying a full clip at the alley. If he does that, he's likely to hit some pregnant woman or little kid. That means another family instantly radicalized.

The local radicals fix it so the soldiers offend everybody as much as possible. That means storing explosives in the local mosque or in the women's quarters. The US troops get a tip that the mosque is loaded with weapons and smash their way in. Even if they find the goods, it doesn't matter to the locals. All they know is "the Infidels smashed our mosque!" It's what you call a no-win situation. Next the crazies start storing their weapons in the women's quarters. Same routine: US troops get a tip and raid the harem. Maybe they find the weapons, maybe they don't. But either way, all the locals remember is: "They kicked down the door and fondled our women!" From the pix I've seen, no red-blooded GI would touch one of those women even if he just got out of a ten-year stretch in Folsom. But to Iraqi guys, Iraqi women look good, so they really believe GIs were fondling their women.

There was a good BBC story about the rumors running around Iraq about the GIs. Like that their sunglasses are X-ray vision to see underneath the women's clothes. It may sound stupid to us, but they don't know any better. Then there's the rumor that GI's kevlar vests are air-conditioned. If you've ever worn one of these things, you know how ridiculous that is. They're one of the hottest things you'll ever wear. But the locals believe it. The foreigners have these AC vests and meanwhile they cut our power so we have to sweat all day!


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Gary Brecher
Browse author
Email Gary at war_nerd@exile.ru, but, more importantly, buy his book.
 
 
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