About this blog...

I am a former leader of a Human Terrain Team in Iraq. My intent with this blog was to identify relevant, open-source materials on Iraqi culture, society, politics, religion and economics - just about anything on or about the Iraqi population in general.

I am continuing the blog now only sporadically, as a means of information distribution in support of efforts to improve a vital program hamstrung by failures in execution.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Military Tourism

This post might not be all that relevant for the units the HTTs are here to support -- military tourism is hardly something most maneuver folks here are guilty of. But it was one of my biggest pet peeves when I was here last time--in the Green Zone--so I couldn't help but be disgusted when I stumbled upon this. The mentality associated with walking around this nation like it's your own little sight-seeing trip stuns me. You look at the backgrounds of the authors - a CA guy and an NGO guy - and you just expect better of them. Instead, every local they saw on their sight-seeing wound up seeing the ultimate in ugly American tourists. How can we claim any credibility in anything we do when they see that this is how seriously we take the responsibility we have assumed by doing what we as a nation have done here, and are claiming to do now.

I suppose it could be argued that by trying to explain the historical relevance of these sights, the authors are actually encouraging cultural understanding. It could be argued, that is, until you read tidbits like the fact that the 14 July Bridge was named for the 1985 revolution that overthrew the Hashemite monarchy. Yeah, that's right guys -- the Ba'ath Party finally thought to themselves "Hey, you know what? We're in the middle of a war with Iran, we've been running the country for almost 30 years, let's overthrow the monarchy!"

Thanks for the efforts you so very clearly expended in your time here, guys. There's nothing like a little understanding.


Rich said...

a) You've obviously only seen an old rough draft of the guide, not the finished product.

b) It's the 1958 Revolution, not 1985 Revolution -- 1985 was a typo in the rough draft -- so your jibe is kind of pointless.

c) It can't be that offensive -- hundreds of people -- military and civilian -- have read and used it and yours has been the only whinning complaint so far.

emjay in VA said...

Have worked my way through the entire 28 text pages, have to agree with Rich. For an "amateur" job, very well done - sort of an HTT piece of work, before the "pro's" like Matt arrived. Had I been a foreign resident of the IZ in 2005, I would have appreciated this guidebook. Maybe Matt just needs some seasoning to learn the difference between "touring" and "tour of duty". Whatever. I do look forward to insights about the HTT experience and POV on life in Iraq.

Norman Rogers said...

Thank you for leaving the comments on your defunct blog open for me.

I am opposed to the Human Terrain System, but I do applaud the efforts of the people who have sacrificed a great deal to make it happen. I think that the ethical considerations weigh heavily against this type of program.

You may read about this here...