Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Who knew

Here's a find.
In 1943, some American troops were stationed in Iraq. Here is a PDF of a War Department handbook introducing them to the country, and providing some dos and don'ts when interacting with the Iraqi people. Some highlights:

  • NEVER discuss religion or politics or women with Moslems.
  • Don't stare at anyone. Remember the fear of the "evil eye".
  • Knock before entering a private house. If a woman answers, wait until she
    has had time to retire.
  • If you see grown men walking hand in hand, ignore it. They are not
  • You can usually tell a mosque by its high tower. Keep away from mosques. [Emphasis in the original] If you try to enter one, you will be thrown out, probably with a severe beating.
  • There are four towns in Iraq which are particularly sacred to the Iraq Moslems: Kerbala, Najaf, samarra, and Kadhiman. Unless you are ordered to these towns it is advisable to stay away from them.
  • Moslems here are divided into two factions something like our division into
    Catholic and Protestant denominations -- so don't put in your two cents when
    Iraqis argue about religion.

  • There are also political differences in Iraq that have puzzled diplomats and
    statesmen. You won't help matters any by getting mixed up in them.
then there's this:
  • American success or failure in Iraq may well depend on whether the Iraqis
    (as the people are called) like American soldiers or not. It may not be quite
    that simple. But then again it could.

Wish somebody read it in 2002.

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