Tuesday, July 24, 2007

How Life Functions for Iraqis

[posted by Callimachus]

Michael J. Totten's latest from Baghdad is up, and it's excellent, as you would expect. He rides along with the U.S. military and watches the interaction with the locals.

The family waved us goodbye.

“Ma Salema,” I said and felt slightly guilty for being there.

We walked back to the Humvees.

“Do you believe him?” I said to the lieutenant. I have no idea how to tell when an Iraqi is lying.

“I do,” he said. “I think he’s a good guy. His story matched what happened.”

“He didn’t want to answer your question, though,” I said, “about who he is afraid of.”

There are terrible stories around here about the masked men of the death squads. Sometimes they break into people’s houses and asking the children who they’re afraid of. If they name the enemies of the death squad, they are spared. If they name the death squad itself, they and their families are killed. It’s a wicked interrogation because it cannot be beaten – the children don’t know which death squad has broken into the house.

“He didn’t want to say who he’s afraid of because he’s afraid,” Lieutenant Wolf said. “If the insurgents find out he gave information to us, or that he helped us, he’s dead.”

Plenty of fodder for observation, whatever your point of view on the thing. But I predict our friends on the left, who attempted to strafe him earlier and missed the target by miles, won't be happy, even though he did what they dared him to do. Not that he cares. Go, read, tip.

UPDATE: Dave Schuler points out that this recent Iraqi view from the other side of the door, so to speak, makes a nice bookend to Totten's:

[The American soldiers] talked about how bad Adhamyia is , as one of them said I hate it there , we are attacked all day long , we can't do things like what we are doing now[. T]hen they left the house and started to check other houses in the block[.] I figured that it's better for both of us , It's better for the US troops to be friendly with the people in the neighborhood as they will be safer , and better for the civilians if the troops feel safe in their area so they will stay there so this means that the neighborhood will be safer[. T]hat's my opinion but many disagree with me , such as my neighbor who said that they are the root of every trouble in Iraq , they caused everything[. I] told him that if what you say is true , then you should blame the US government not the soldiers they are people like you and me , they do what they have been told , they didn't choose it[. H]e didn't agree with that , he asked me , what about the people who were killed by the US troops only because they were in the street the minute they got attacked ?