Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Muslim Dignity?

Steven Vincent reports from a coffee shop in Basra, where he is talking to his friend Layla and a Dr. Basma, a history professor at the nearby university:

In walks a man, who plants himself in front of the TV. Even as Dr. Basma recounts how increasing numbers of students are shrouding themselves in hejab, this worthy sits transfixed by the televised bevy of dark-eyed houri prancing and dancing and rotating their heads until their long, thick, black-as-the -Kaaba tresses spin like propellor blades. The irony is not lost at our table, although we don't mention it.

The man, however, feels no such discretion: soon, instead of Lebanese teens in adornment-revealing half-cut tees and crotch-level jeans, he's staring at us--staring with the same blank, dull, malevolently stupid glare I've encountered so often in this country. I tense; Layla, sensitive by now to my misplaced gallantry, cautions, "I know, I know, just ignore him..." while Dr. Basma talks gamely on, trying to blot the intrusive gaze from her consciousness as well.

But I can't restrain myself, it's hackle-raising, this constant stare. "Eindak mooshkelah?" I snap, ("You have a problem?"), the man starts, garbles something in Arabic, looks back to the TV for moment--then turns to glare at us once more. By now I'm thinking, What would happen if I punched this guy? when fortunately, Layla leaps up, murmurs with exasperation, "It's me, it's me..." and proceeds to re-abiya herself. Muslim dignity restored, the man returns to oggling the video vixens in their chadorless abandon, hair, limbs, hips moving with the freedom Iraqi women experience only in their dreams.
Muslim dignity indeed.


Kevin from Boots on the Ground has returned to the United States after being stationed in Iraq two times. He offers his honest thoughts.
It would be a lie if I said I liked Iraq. My experiences the first time were good. I lived by a good neighborhood near the green zone where the people were very friendly to American forces. This tour we were in a much tougher part of town and much poorer. So it was a big difference. I am a professional and we all did our job as professionals, but most will tell you they hated it there.
Thanks Kevin for courageous duty in Iraq!


If you haven't read any of blogger Michael Yon's dispatches from Iraq, then you have some reading to do, my friends.
Occasionally a journalist passes through for a short embed, but they don't really see much by "drive-by reporting" as this kind of ride-along is called. Since I am not a journalist, and prefer to spend long periods with units, I see things others miss, and sometimes it's impressive stuff. Some of the technology and various forms of intelligence that Deuce-Four uses defies the imagination. I hope that someday the Army clears me to tell the whole story.

Despite the high-tech flourish, most of the genuine intelligence actually comes from detainees who cough up their cellmates like cats choking on hairballs. Another source of reliable intelligence is the local population, who are ever more confident in the effectiveness and staying power of the new government, and increasingly angry with the depravity of the terrorists.

Today, some locals found a very large and well-made shaped-charge (a special type of bomb) buried in a road that could have caused significant damage. The locals didn't just report it; they actually dug it up and removed it from the road! When our guys came by, a kid waved and pointed to the bomb. They may have saved American lives. They definitely sent a powerful message to insurgents who have infested their community.
I suggest reading the entire blog. I guarantee that you will learn a lot about the situation on the ground in Iraq. No question about it.


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