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NYTimes.com Article: Officer Says Iraqis Are Skeptical of U.S. Supporting Revolt
by threehegemons
01 April 2003 02:42 UTC
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This article from NYTimes.com 
has been sent to you by threehegemons@aol.com.

"He said Arabs were, as a rule, more emotional than Americans and Europeans. "

I find it fascinating to read the comments of this officer, who has a 'deep 
grounding' in Arab history and culture.  Lord only knows what his less educated 
comrades are saying.

Steven Sherman


Officer Says Iraqis Are Skeptical of U.S. Supporting Revolt

March 31, 2003


CAMP SAYLIYA, Qatar, March 31 - The United States, through
its past acts, is largely to blame for the failure of
Iraq's Shiite majority to rise in revolt against Saddam
Hussein, a senior military commander at the United States
Central Command said here today. 

"We bear a certain responsibility for what we didn't do in
1991," the officer said. 

After the Persian Gulf war in 1991, the American government
encouraged a Shiite uprising, then did not act when Mr.
Hussein's forces slaughtered thousands of civilians. 

"We let them down once," the officer said in a background
session with reporters. "We're not going to do it again." 

The officer, who spoke on condition that his name not be
used, said millions of leaflets and round-the-clock radio
broadcasts into Iraq had failed to convince the Iraqi
population that the United States and its allies were fully
committed to overthrowing the Baghdad government. 

He said years of repression and a succession of what he
called barbarous acts against civilians by government
agents and militia since the start of the current war had
caused the Iraqi people to largely refrain from acts of

"If you have been beaten up and beaten down the way they
have been for 12 years, it should not surprise us that
they're waiting to see," said the officer, who has a deep
grounding in Arab history and culture. 

Nonetheless, he expressed optimism that ultimately the
Iraqis would recognize that the American-led forces were
serious about toppling Mr. Hussein and dismantling his
apparatus of terror. 

The officer said cultural misunderstandings and a failure
to learn the lessons of recent history contributed to
miscalculations by American military and civilian leaders.
He said those planning and prosecuting the war might have
failed to appreciate how deeply Mr. Hussein's personality
and organs of repression pervade Iraqi society. 

"There are big cultural differences between ourselves and
the Arab world," he said. "Their version of the truth is
different from our version of the truth. They come at it
from a different way." 

He said that on some days at least, Baghdad was winning the
public relations war in the Arab world by showing pictures
of wounded children and devastated public marketplaces,
while American officials were showing antiseptic videotapes
of precision weapons hitting buildings. The coalition has
not effectively shown skeptical audiences in the Arab world
and around the globe the brutality of the Iraqi war effort.

"The way this regime fights is despicable, it's barbarous,"
he said. "We cannot allow anyone, especially in the Arab
world, to believe that the way they fight is honorable." 

He said Arabs were, as a rule, more emotional than
Americans and Europeans. Those who have lived for decades
under what he called Mr. Hussein's totalitarian rule tend
to discount, even distrust, American promises of liberation
and relief aid. He compared the Iraqi population to the
Germans under Hitler and the Russians under Stalin, who
were so cowed by their charismatic leaders that they did
not revolt in an organized way. 

He said Iraq was not, as some strategists inside and
outside the government presumed, a "house of cards" that
would topple quickly if given a modest push. "That's just
not true," he said. 

Mr. Hussein appears invincible to many Iraqis who have
known no other leader. "He's won the lottery every time,"
the officer said. "Saddam is a huge symbol for these
people. He's everywhere. He's everything.' 

That is why American bombers and missiles repeatedly attack
Iraqi state television, and why British troops in Basra are
knocking down statues and posters of Mr. Hussein. 

The officer said that in some places at least, the Iraqi
people were close to believing that the end of the
government was near. 

"They are rising up, even though slower than we hoped," he
said. "I sense we're near the tipping point in Basra. I
sense we're near the tipping point in Nasiriya." 

Intercepted communications between Iraqi army commanders
and conversations with Iraqi officers who have surrendered
or been captured indicate that at least some in the
military believe that the government is in its final days,
he said. 

"They are worried," he said. "And they ought to be." 

he acknowledged that ground actions - and particularly the
heavy bombardment of Baghdad, which apparently has resulted
in dozens of civilian deaths and injuries - might have had
the effect of stiffening the anti-American resolve of at
least some of the citizenry. 

He also said, however, that he believed that more Iraqi
civilians had been killed by the Iraqi government "than by
any of our errant bombs." 

He charged that scores of civilians had been killed by the
Iraqis in Basra and that more than 60 had been "executed"
in Mosul. 

But he warned that more American and Iraqi casualties were
a certainty in the days to come. 

"We're prepared to pay a very high price," he said. "We're
not going to walk away. We're going to take him out." 

He added, sadly, "There's no such thing as a clean


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