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Author Topic: Changing the blame game
Babbler # 1962

posted 10 November 2003 01:26 PM      Profile for aRoused     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Regarding the worsening situation in Iraq, the kicker for me is that a typical anthropology sophomore, if not freshman, should have been able to predict these kinds of reactions, even if they'd never studied Middle Eastern societies. I mean, it's the kind of thing you can pick up from glancing at T.E.Lawrence's books or watching _Lawrence of Arabia_. It's not rocket science. It's not even full-bore ethnography.

And yet the 'coalition' troops, including their commanders, all seem convinced that the Iraqis should have reacted exactly like North Americans (disregarding briefly the likely possibility that North Americans would have reacted similarly to the Iraqis).

I'm beginning to see this as a failure less in Washington (who are ultimately responsible, and criminally so, but aren't in the combat zone), and more of the individual commanders in the field. These are educated men and women, all with at least a Bachelor's degree (AFAIK), and many with a Master's related to their speciality. And yet it becomes clearer every day that not a single US officer currently serving in Iraq has made the least effort to find out anything about the people they knew they were going to wind up policing.

Sure, sure, the troops were told it was going to be a cakewalk and they'd be welcomed with open arms, but as individuals at least some of them should have tried to find out something about the local population over and above the official line from Washington. I'm not seeing any sign that that took place. In my view, that amounts to dereliction of duty, especially when reading a single book on the subject might save your troops' lives.

Or is this just a sign of the difference between:
- Americans and Canadians
- Military personnel and 'average' citizens?
- The general public and anthropologists?

I reject that last one, using the 'travelguide' argument: If you were going to visit a foreign country, wouldn't you try and find out something about it? Doesn't that go double if you're expecting to work as a police officer there?

From: The King's Royal Burgh of Eoforwich | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 2116

posted 10 November 2003 01:39 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
A goodish percentage of those officers had already visited the region in 1991, which makes their ignorance even more baffling.
From: gone | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 3807

posted 10 November 2003 02:31 PM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
You can't blame the military, most of whom, I believe, argued against this operation.

Theirs is not to reason why, yadda yadda yadda...

From: Saskatchistan | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 490

posted 10 November 2003 02:35 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I suspect Americanitis is partly at work here, since, from what I've heard far too many times, is that Americans often don't do much in the way of research on their foreign destinations.

All it does in tourism is simply cheese off the local population who have to deal with the boors, but it doesn't get anyone killed.

Here, it seems to be getting quite a few people killed.

From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 2116

posted 10 November 2003 02:07 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I find Americans are no more boorish in this respect than most other nationalities that can afford to "tour" - be they German, Australian, British, Icelandic, and yes Canadian. The number of Canadians of my personal acquaintance who have no clue where Haiti is after visiting the Dominican Republic is depressingly high.
From: gone | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged

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