Friday, June 20, 2008

Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq During World War II

by the United States Army (reprinted by University of Chicago Press from original, 1943)

"You have been ordered to Iraq (i - RAHK) as part of the world-wide offensive to beat Hitler. You will enter Iraq both as a soldier and as an individual. That is our strength—if we are smart enough to use it. It can be our weakness if we aren't."

Thus begins "A Short Guide To Iraq" issued to every U.S. soldier entering the theater in 1943 to assist British units guarding against Nazi infiltration. If only U.S. military personnel from 2003 on had something similar. Indeed, U.S. army commander and counterterrorism expert John Nagl writes in an introduction to this reprint, "I wish that I had read it before beginning my own yearlong tour in Al Anbar in late 2003!"

The 44-page booklet is the most succinct summation of Iraqi culture for Americans anywhere anytime. It may shock readers to know how much has changed—an Iraqi dinar worth four U.S. dollars in 1943 is today worth .004 U.S. dollars. And to know how much remains the same: "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."

No comments:

Search Results