Wednesday, October 31, 2007

US War Department Does Well In Iraq

Unfortunately this was back in 1943

The War and Navy Department at Washington DC issued a "Guide For US Forces Serving In Iraq 1943" which has been re-published with a Preface by Dark House Publications (2008, £4.99). It is in a format, like the original which is easy to slip into a pocket.

Whilst the guide might not be unproblematic, it gives useful advice to troops about "getting along with Iraqis and making them your friends", saying "the best way to get along with people is to understand them. That is what this guide is for".

It is a pity that Bush and his advisers did not study it before the invasion.

Towards the end, the guide gives 28 tips on how to respect and (where appropriate) join-in with Iraqi customs. It concludes with hints on how to pronounce some key Iraqi words and phrases, pressing troops to talk "Arabic if you can to people. No matter how badly you do it." Appropriate recordings were also supplied to help extend their skills in Arabic.

I undertook my National Service in Basra in 1955-6. I would have found a British version of the guide to be invaluable. But never once did Officers in the RAF organise any guidance whatsoever to us on how to mix with Iraqi people and to respect their way of life. We weren't even told where we were at or what we were doing there.

The US also issued "A Soldier's Guide To The Republic Of Iraq" in 2003. I have not yet seen a copy and can only point to this criticism of part of its content. Things seem to have gone downhill since 1943.

I am seeking to discover whether a British version (past or present) exists. I would be grateful for any information on this.


Andy Howell said...

Brilliant Harry ! Keep up the good work.

mrs k said...

Pity they were not updating it and giving it out free to the troops currently out there and most liley to be there for sometime in the future.

Maybe we should all email the Whitehouse and Downing St again.

Harry Barnes said...

Mrs K ; I will ask my MP to get onto this.

Harry Barnes said...

Mrs K ; I will ask my MP to get onto this.

mrs k said...


Tell me what to say and I will contact my MP (Dave Anderson) as well.

Harry Barnes said...

Mrs K;
An MP could seek to discover whether anything similar to the US advice booklet is issued to our own troops. If so the MP might be able to get their hands on a copy to check its value. If none has been issued, they can then press for a version to be prepared, published and issued.

To find out what (if anything)
has been done they can either (a) ask the Commons' Library to find it out for them. This is a facility open to MPs only. Or (b)they can ask the Minister of Defence via a Parliamentary Question - either an oral question (which will only appear if the MP won a sort of lottery around the time Defence Questions crop up) or a question which will receive a written answer. Successful orals and all written questions (and the answers) get published in Hansard.

If there is then a need to raise the matter further either in oral or written form, then MP's have a number of dodges open to them.

The subject matter should just be right for Dave. And he knows the openings well.

I am sending our Natascha Engel a copy of this thread also, to see what she can do.

mrs k said...

Did it and copied him your blog item.

Thank you - I am learning more everyday - thought I would stop once I retired.

Harry Barnes said...

Mrs K;

It is great when you are a retired politico, you can pursue your interests without all those past pressures, commitments and side issues.

Odysseus said...

Well, let's see what a guide to the US written in 1943 would tell people:

1. Black people are separate from everyone else. Do not socialize with them. Do not use public facilities that are marked "colored."

2. Women do not work outside the home except as secretaries, school teachers, and prostitutes.

3. ________ (fill in your own)

Yep, the Bush Admin should have dusted that 60-year-old tome off and given it to every soldier. My my, hindsight is 20/20.