Frisbees over Fallujah

An email and photos sent to Spirit of America, from Lt. Col. Colin McNease, USMC. From Fallujah. Looks like our earlier efforts (big thanks to all attendees) are beginning to pay off on the ground:

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We went out to the village where the tank got stuck, about 3 km northeast of Fallujah. The area is a dirt road farming village of concrete or mud brick houses strung along a single road which runs from a cemetery to a ‘T’ intersection. The people have gotten to know the Marines since the tank spent a week there before we could pull it out. They were friendly to the Marines who already felt bad about trashing their canals and fields while trying to unstick the M1A1. When we went out to pay damage claims for all the lost crops and date palm trees and torn up roads, we saw a lot of kids around and met a few of them. This made us think of the SoA stuff, especially the soccer balls and frisbees, we had been sent and had back on Camp Fallujah.

The next time we went to visit the village, we took as many of the soccer balls and frisbees as we could find into the open space in the back of our hummers (around chow, water, ammunition, radio batteries, etc.) When we arrived at the village and parked the HMMVWs in the center, some shy but curious kids were peeking out from doorways or looking out their windows. But when we pulled out the soccer balls and handed the first one out, they started coming out like ants to a picnic.

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None of them wanted frisbees at first, all really wanted the soccer balls. But when we ran out of soccer balls and kept handing out frisbees they would line up to take them, sometimes trying to get more than one, and many making sure their little brothers or sisters got one as well. They didn’t know what to make of the frisbees at first, holding and throwing them like dinner plates, but once they had a little professional military education on how to operate the frisbee and were checked out on it, a lot of them became surprisingly good surprisingly quickly. I spent almost 45 minutes tossing the disc with one very young girl who got to be quite accomplished.

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Some of the kids’ parents and some of the older kids who could read did pick up on the friendship message and would point to the English and then point to the Arabic and give us a thumbs up to show that they understood that they meant the same thing in both our languages.

This took place at a time when we were being shot at in most every other place we went so it was particularly gratifying, and it was nice to have something good to give them. Other things they seem particularly crazy about are sunglasses (they always want ours) and colored pens.

A big thanks to all of the bloggers and readers supporting Spirit of America, in this and other projects, as they work to help our troops make a difference in Iraq.

30 thoughts on “Frisbees over Fallujah”

  1. That last picture is truly amazing. Here we have an American soldier. A professional, the best trained and equiped in the world, in full combat dress, with a carbine with a grenade launcher slung over his shoulder. And here he is handing a soccer ball to an Iraqi child. Words defy me…

  2. Thank you for shining the spotlight on the true values of America and the values of the majority of our soldiers. You could not have given a better Mother’s Day gift to all the mothers in America today that have their sons and daughters fighting in Iraq.

    Happy Mother’s Day

    SBD

  3. Yes. This is the only way. The locals MUST like the US and MUST trust US agents for the primary mission (avoiding Wretchard’s 2nd Conjecture) to succeed. If the local attitude towards the US is basically favorable, they’ll sell out the crazies to US forces.

    If the local attitude is unfavorable, then the cycle of resistance and retribution is almost inevitable. (And more terrorists will be created.)

    A reign of terror combined with strategic bribery would be fine if the US mission was imperial domination/resource control/power projection. That mission isn’t very useful (at least to US civilians.)

    Since the important mission critically rests on local popular support, US forces must be SQUEAKY FUCKING CLEAN — just like in the excellent photos above. All other conditions are secondary, including US/allied casualties.

    This situation calls for a well trained Legion of Paladins. Let’s hope the Marines can rise to the occasion.

  4. Why we are losing the war. Warriors being tasked to hand out toys to the natives. Maybe that impresses a two year old, but the unemployed man in the doorway has other ideas about his country ruled by infidels.

  5. Frank, there’s a valid larger point in there that might expand T.J. Madison’s viewpoint a bit – but to do the same to your viewpoint, these things are right out of the Marines’ Small Wars Manual. It was written several decades before Vietnam, and remains the Marine Corps proven counterinsurgency doctrine.

  6. This is nice. Unfortunately, I think Frank is right: handing out toys is nice, but it isn’t a substitute for solving the real problems: unemployment and lack of electricity. Think about it: 50% unemployment. That’s half the population with nothing to do but sit around all day being annoyed at the Americans. Imagine how much smaller the insurgency would have been if those people had had jobs. We really dropped the ball.

  7. “Why we are losing the war. Warriors being tasked to hand out toys to the natives. Maybe that impresses a two year old, but the unemployed man in the doorway has other ideas about his country ruled by infidels.”

    Small humanities are remembered forever! I recall how the U.S. gifts of little things like chocolates, cigarettes and stockings are remembered by the once devastated European populace. The Berlin airlift is remembered with gratitude to this day. When in Europe we often hear people speak of these things with undying gratitude. Europe was devastated and some nations were almost totally destroyed. That is the difference in Iraq. The destruction is largely of their own making.

    While we have made the big error of not going in with our allies and not providing for enough security, it is the Iraqis who must be responsible for the rebuilding of their nation. Just as the Europeans were responsible for their own rebuilding. No amount of “Marshall Plans” can substitute for people who pick themselves up by their boot-straps.

    Humanity is what will save the Muslims—their humanity, if they allow it to come out.

    Happy Mothers’ Day!

  8. > it is the Iraqis who must be responsible for the rebuilding of their nation

    Why? What bad thing happens if we rebuild it for them?

  9. Josh,

    If I ever had doubts that you were a liberal, that last comment dispelled them.

    Repeat after me: jobs cannot be given from on high, and mean anything. Fidel seems to think so, and so does Kim… how are their economies doing lately. The collapse of this belief is one of the big holes in your entire ideology these days – get an update. Or, if you’re still nostalgic for the days of communism, look at Saudi Arabia’s abject failure to create meaningful and sustainable employment despite a small population and almost unlimited oil money. It. Doesn’t. Work.

    Prosperity cannot be handed out for free, either. Why? Because it is a result of habits and practices, not a thing of itself. Even if you COULD wave a wand and give it to people, it must be maintained, or it will be lost. No habits, no maintenance (and indeed, no micro-level complex systems and incentives required to support it), no success.

    If the Iraqis don’t do most of this themselves, therefore, they’ll never build the systems, habits, and disciplines that will allow them to have prosperity. Worse, if you could give it to them, they won’t be able to keep it. Their BEST future would be to become like the Saudis, at a much lower level of wealth due to oil/population.

    THAT is the bad thing that happens if we rebuild it for them, and they aren’t doing most of the work.

  10. > Jobs cannot be given from on high, and mean anything.

    Mean anything? Who cares? I’d rather work for a US-subsidized industry, than starve “meaningfully.”

    War creates a huge economic shock. Their currency was completely ruined! Imagine what would happen in the US if the dollar were instantly devalued to zero. To expect them to recover from that quickly without help is unrealistic. If you want to get all moralistic and say “the war’s their fault, so the economic destruction is their fault, and the unemployment’s their fault,” well, I suppose that’s your value system. But letting them wallow in economic chaos conflicts with our goals. We wanted stability. Which, I suppose, is a big part of why we didn’t achieve our objectives.

    It’s a question of lesser evils. Which would you rather have: a stable democratic nation that relies on US subsidies to industry, or an unstable nation, with people starving, and civil war? I think the subsidies are the much lesser problem.

    > If I ever had doubts that you were a liberal, that last comment dispelled them.

    Should I change my name to “Josh Yelon Really is Liberal,” just for clarity’s sake?

  11. Josh, the problem is that there are too many people in the economy. The ME has been experiencing a population explosion for years now, and it has affected Iraq quite strongly. Throw in socialist control of the economy unders Saddam, and you have a stagnated economy that leave many unemployed. The US can only create so many jobs, we are trying hard, but it is something that there is no easy solution for.

  12. A.L., Joe: Beautiful. Did’ya know, though, this is “real science”? Spirit of America is changing the memetic just enough that the receptors still work. How much better if all the funding supporting Al-Hurrah (Al-hurayah, the ‘kitten’ network) had been given to Spirit of America. Thanks for all your work A.L., great entry! :-)

  13. Many Saudis would also rather work for state-supported gimmicks that involve no real work. And do. But then they’re bored, you see, and underemployed, and they look for something to give meaning to their lives. They find radical Islam, in numbers. And now they have some spare cash to devote to it, too….

    We’ve seen this movie before. This is not a smart or happy outcome.

    The Iraqi economy and infrastructure were in slow collapse under Saddam (as Venezuela’s currently is under Chavez, BTW). We can’t walk in and wave a magic wand, that exists only in your fantasies. Even oil won’t solve the problem (so be prepared for some major problems in Venezuela too when Chavez goes).

    Massive subsidies will create the wrong incentives and delay the habits and structures needed to get to a functioning and prosperous economy that can provide real jobs. That, too, is failure. The things you CAN massively subsidize are security and infrastructure, and both are underway.

    Note, too, that a local security industry has time-based expansion limits unless you want more Abu Ghraib situations (or worse, a Sabra/Shatilla situation where local ethnic troops go berzerk).

    The only thing to do is accept that this will take time, as it has in similar rebuilding situations everywhere else in the world, and do the best we can in the interim in order to provide hope. An Alaska-style oil voucher program would be a huge step forward, for instance, and I’ve supported that for a long time.

    Outright aid to stave off starvation is also both possible and in progress, however – providing, of course, that people protecting those humanitarian deliveries aren’t killed and mutilated. But wait, I forgot, they’re mercenaries anyway aren’t they? How silly of me.

    The problem here is that you’re using mental constructs that are proven to be flawed to near-worthlessness. They don’t work here, they don’t work there.

    If you want to change your name, I suggest an honorific of letters: Josh Yelon, U.L. (ultra-liberal). It looks classy, and this will nicely confirm that the last 30 years of evolution in political thought haven’t taught you anything.

  14. > An Alaska-style oil voucher program would be a huge step forward

    That’s just plain welfare! I’d think you’d support subsidized industry over handing out money. At least with subsidized industry, you can gradually taper off the subsidies.

    Of course, you’ve got a point, in that Iraq’s oil is either going to end up in the hands of a few rich individuals, or the proceeds will be divided up evenly among the people. In the former case, you’ve got another Saudi Arabia, in the latter case, you’ve got a welfare state. I don’t know if there’s any way to avoid that.

  15. Not welfare, Josh. More like shares that cannot be traded (but could perhaps be used as collateral), because it’s tied to something concrete and fluctuates with that. Works very well in Alaska.

    Since the state owns the land, it’s not a huge stretch to argue that all concerned should share in the proceeds derived therefrom as a form of common property rights (conservative) or more direct public ownership (liberal). It’s not a bad model for natural resources and even ecological problems like poaching, in that it creates incentives across the board for wise use that are not present in the “state as representative” model.

    Most critically, it avoids the problems of a “rentier state” in which revenue and popular consent/taxation are NOT connected because the state has an external source (oil, and enough subsidies can do the same thing FYI) and so doesn’t need taxes and the discipline of consent and scrutiny that goes with them.

    Finally, it works as a form of micro-capital stimulus, giving its recipients the tools and funds to begin small businesses et. al. on their own.

    So, lots to recommend this.

    FYI, the history of subsidies does not support the idea of gadual tapering off, I’m afraid. Ted Lowi’s “ratchet theory” is more like it – and that’s an idea that has been around since the 1970s.

  16. > So, lots to recommend this.

    I wasn’t arguing that it’s bad. I was saying that it’s indistinguishable from welfare.

    The Alaskan resident fills out some papers. Then, periodicially he receives a check. If he cares, he can go down to the library and find out that this check he’s receiving has something to do with “shares” and “dividends” and some other corporate jargon. But if he’s your average Joe, all he knows is that he receives a check without having to do any work.

    Meanwhile, in Iraq, some guy goes to the CPA and fills out some paperwork. Then, he periodically receives a check. If he cares, he can go down to the library and find out that this check he’s receiving has something to do with “subsidies” and “foreign aid” and some other political jargon. But if he’s your average Joe, all he knows is that he receives a check without having to do any work.

    What’s the difference, in terms of the social dynamic they create?

  17. Let me rephrase my final question.

    You said: “Prosperity cannot be handed out for free, either. Why? Because it is a result of habits and practices.”

    How are the “habits and practices” created in the Alaskan native (ie, taking his check down to the liquor store and waiting out the winter) different from the “habits and practices” created in the Iraqi native (ie, taking his check down to the liquor store and waiting out the summer)?

  18. > Ted Lowi’s “ratchet theory” is more like it

    Whenever I’m having a discussion with conservatives, they inevitably do this: they throw out the name of some random guy I’ve never heard of. I think “Great. Now I either have to read up on this guy, or drop the discussion.” So I read up on the guy, or the theory, and inevitably, the theory has nothing to do with the discussion at hand. I’ve just wasted a half hour.

    Apparently, after a half-hour of reading, ratchet theory applies when the people who are receiving the subsidies control the government that’s providing the subsidies. It really doesn’t seem to say much about gifts from one government to another.

    Is this random deflection a conscious strategy? I can do it too. Next time we’re having a discussion, I can grab one of the books on my shelf and pick a name at random. “The effects of government subsidies? Go read Anne Cameron’s book, then you’ll understand.” And you’ll discover that Anne Cameron’s book is a book of Native American folk tales.

    You guys have more ways of puffing yourselves up…

  19. >Imagine what would happen in the US if the dollar were instantly devalued to zero.

    Josh,

    If Liberals in this country took the time to understand the economics of current world economy, they would realize that we are fighting this war “in part” to avoid the above scenario of the devalued dollar you described above.

    Go to Google and search for the “petrodollar” or go to this link.
    Petrodollar Theories of War

    The morality of this is a matter of debate as both Europe and the USA have been deceptive. I personally stand by America’s decision, for both the well being of my family and the well being of every American. If you take a step back and look at the timeline, you will see a well laid out plan to bring down America that the Europeans were more than happy to contribute too.

    SBD

  20. I like the idea behind the photo. What are the alternatives?

    Just around the corner is a mosque, with a terrorist mullah, who wants to strap explosives belts on these kids and send them up to checkpoints to detonate themselves.

    So yeah, do anything you can to compete for their time, so the mullahs can’t destroy the entire next generation of Iraqis.

  21. Glad you learned something today, Josh. But you should have read more closely.

    “Regulatory capture” does not require the recipients of the aid to control the government, just states that government agencies have symbiotic relationships with those receiving their aid, and that (like, say, Arthur Andersen) they may in time cease to distinguish the clients’ interests from their duty. Nor is this the sole agency behind ratchet theory. Some of the dynamic is an information/benefits differential – those receiving the subsidies have a very direct interest in continuing ($$$), while the rest of the electorate has only a diffuse and generalized interest ($) in rolling the subsidies back. This makes gradual rollbacks near impossible, and often ensures that subsidies only grow.

    So much for your point re: “gradual rollback of subsidies,” which does not generally happen in the real world. As for the fact that the subsidies come from an external agency, a quick look at the EU, U.S. aid to Egypt (and Israel), et. al. shows that these seem to follow similar patterns. But you’d have to look for examples like these first, and to think.

    Rather than ignoring these inconvenient realities, conswervatives (and some liberals) instead seek to explain them so we can understand what’s really going on, and make better policy.

    Of course, the general points re: prosperity as a result of habits and disciplines, what it takes to keep it, and the time involved in any societal reconstruction all remain untouched, and still stand.

    All of which speaks very strongly to the limits (to put it kindly) of your proposed “give them all jobs now, and subsidize them all” suggestions as viable solutions.

    It’s kind of hard for me to get all mushy because you feel put out by having to actually make some effort and grapple with stuff like this. They represent some of the more important political science concepts of the last 30 years, right up there with “public choice economics”. The fact that you keep having to read this stuff, and that it’s all news to you, is a good illustration of why your ideology has lost ground (and public support) so very steadily over the last 25 years.

    Time to take off the blinders, Josh, and grapple with the other side’s ideas for a change. Bill Clinton did, and you can, too.

  22. Josh, glad you have such a high opinion of Alaskans and Iraqis. I forgot the Democrats had become the party of nanny-snobs. Thanks for the reminder.

    A bit more maturity and real world experience would tell you that most peope will do far more productive things with this money, most of which will engage the local economy in a positive ways. Hence – gasp – real jobs. The concept of micro-credit, generally seen as a liberal concept, rests on this same belief.

    Maybe the initials you need are P.L. (paleo-liberal) instead – you don’t even seem to be learning from your *own* side’s modern ideas.

    A better comparison would also note the difference between [A] a government in an historically clannish and somewhat corrupt setting sitting on all of these proceeds, vs. [B] several million Iraqis with their piece of the pie to invest or spend as they see fit.

    Which scenario fosters government accountability? Or put it this way, since you’re a liberal – would you want Chalabi in charge of scenario A?

    Which scenario is likely to end up with large chunks of the monies outside the country in Swiss bank accounts, or bogus public projects that don’t in fact improve people’s lives much but pay off important donors?

    So, there’s the benefit of individual decisions and restriction of corruption incentives in rebuilding Iraq speedily. But a social program might also achieve that.

    The difference of an oil voucher program from ordinary social program spending – and this is key – is that an Alaska-style program is tied to something concrete and fluctuates as the value of the asset does. General government programs are not structured this way, and that matters for reasons that go beyond financial sustainability if oil proces fluctuate.

    Let me illustrate:

    In scenario A, a government could do sweetheart deals with American oil companies at ridiculously concessionary rates (as Saddam did for the French & Russians), and public reaction is negative but manageable even in a democracy if the right groups are bought off. In voucher scenario B, which you call “welfare”, the fact that this poor deal just knocked $50 off everyone’s quarterly cheque will leave any quasi-democratic government in soooo much trouble. Anyone in politics can tell you, that’s just suicidal.

    Generalized welfare programs can’t accomplish that.

    Remember that information/benefits differential involved in ratchet theory and other subsidies-related ideas (and this is a subsidy scenario, just one with foreign beneficiaries)? Suddenly, it isn’t such a differential, and the incentives are very different. That’s an idea that extends well beyond welfare in terms of its effects on behaviour. It also illustrates why the ideas you had to look up earlier matter to liberals as well.

    You can even extrapolate this idea to, say, the perceived importance among Iraqis of protecting oil infrastructure. Again, a serious change in behaviour is very possible once those Iraqis have vouchers tied to that infrastructure working all the time.

    Having said all that, I’m statrting to have a serious problem with the way you’re conducting yourself. Or rather, you’re starting to have a serious problem.

    Someone who lacks a basic grasp of concepts like… subsidies tend not to go away; prosperity is a consequence not something that can be given; the idea that jobs can’t be handed down to everyone willy-nilly from a government without serious and bad consequences long term; the idea of vouchers for public resources; micro-credit; the problems of unaccountable “rentier states” in the Mideast who don’t need public taxes or approval, et. al… to lack all this, and then sit in judgment of a situation like Iraq on economic grounds and expect to be taken seriously – I mean, wow.

    Now throw in complaints that you have to keep reading new ideas, and add some snobbish comments about average people being drunks, and you look like a poster boy for paleo-liberalism: snobby, blinkered, arrogant, lazy, learning nothing new and forgetting nothing old.

    How are the “habits and practices” created in the Alaskan native (ie, taking his check down to the liquor store and waiting out the winter) different from the “habits and practices” created in the Iraqi native (ie, taking his check down to the liquor store and waiting out the summer)?

  23. > In scenario A, a government could do sweetheart deals with American oil companies at ridiculously concessionary rates (as Saddam did for the French & Russians), and public reaction is negative but manageable even in a democracy if the right groups are bought off. In voucher scenario B, which you call “welfare”, the fact that this poor deal just knocked $50 off everyone’s quarterly cheque will leave any quasi-democratic government in soooo much trouble. Anyone in politics can tell you, that’s just suicidal. Generalized welfare programs can’t accomplish that.

    So let me see if I follow you… the welfare system is bad for the “habits and practices”, not of the people who receive the welfare, but for the “habits and practices” of the government dispensing it. I misunderstood your basic premise: I thought you were making the usual conservative argument that people who receive money from government turn into welfare queens. *I* do not think that welfare turns people into drunks. I thought that *you* were postulating that welfare would turn them into drunks. I was merely accepting your premise for the sake of argument, and asking why if welfare turns people into drunk, why don’t vouchers do the same?

    But clearly, I misunderstood: you’re not saying that giving money to Iraqis would turn eliminate *their* self-discipline. You’re saying it would eliminate *our* self discipline: we would never acquire the ability to turn off the gravy train. That’s possible.

    > Which scenario fosters government accountability?

    Clearly, as a liberal, I would want equal distribution of the wealth. You’re asking whether the funds needed to run government should flow directly from the wells to the government’s coffers, or indirectly: first to the people, then back to the government in the form of taxes. Both methods are equivalent in terms of final results, but the latter method makes people more aware of the amount of money their government is spending. I’m with you that that’s probably better.

    >Josh: he can go down to the library and find out that this check he’s receiving has something to do with “shares” and “dividends” and some other corporate jargon…

    >Joe: Someone who lacks a basic grasp of concepts like… the idea of vouchers for public resources

    It was my hypothesized “Average Joe” who doesn’t know the difference between welfare and vouchers. I, myself, am quite aware. My argument was that to the Average Joe, the two are largely indistinguishable: they are both sources of unearned money that fluctuate as a result of forces beyond your control.

  24. “Why? What bad thing happens if we rebuild it for them?”

    Things given for free are rarely if ever appreciated, Josh. People must take personal responsibility for their own successes and failures.

    The biggest problem in the Arab/Muslim world is a lack of personal responsibility and a culture of blame. Blaming the “other” has been the Muslim way since the inception of Islam. It has caused wars and great misery.

    The biggest curse, after Islam, is oil. It has created an indolent Arab nation. Arab News regularly reports that Saudis, for example, don’t really want to work. They just want the “suit” and the “look” of working. They all want to be “managers.” Real work is for “infidel” peasants.

    It must be remembered that Europe and Japan took decades to rebuild and have prosperity. Currently, one of the biggest problems in Europe is the unsustainable welfare system. It has created several generations of indolents—people unwilling and incapable of working. One hopes that Iraqi oil will not also be their undoing. Religion and oil are as paralyzing as venoms.

    ” as a liberal, I would want equal distribution of the wealth. “

    Every Western government and many ME governments already have serious distribution and re-distribution of wealth. In the U.S. and Europe the wealthy pay humongous taxes in proportion to the poorer citizens. That is as it should be. Social Security is certainly a wealth re-distribution system. Most people get out far more than they ever pay in. However, plain old welfare, getting supported for nothing, is not a very good thing. It makes people angry, wanting to bite the hand that feeds them because of the shame. Those on the dole develop the unpleasant habit of being supremely ungrateful.

    The Iraqis will not be grateful to the U.S. for “liberating” them from Saddam if they have no personal stake in the rebuilding of their own country. If Uncle Sam’s deep pockets take care of everything then where is their incentive to better their own lot?

    It would be much better to have other Arab nations assist the Iraqis than the U.S. and the rest of the West. We can help, but the Iraqis must be responsible for building their own future.

    Tough love, is the only way to get the Muslims to grow up! Even Mr. Friedman has finally realized that.

    Cursed by Oil

    “. . .The Arab world, alas, has been cursed with oil. For decades, too many Arab countries have opted to drill a sand dune for economic growth rather than drilling their own people — men and women — in order to tap their energy, creativity, intellect and entrepreneurship. Arab countries barely trade with one another, and unlike Korea and Japan, rarely invent or patent anything. . .

    . . .The Bush team has made a mess in Iraq, but the pathologies of the Arab world have also contributed — and the sheer delight that some Arab media take in seeing Iraq go up in flames is evidence of that. It’s time for the Arab world to grow up — to stop dancing on burning American jeeps and claiming that this is some victory for Islam. . .

    “They are using our mistakes to avoid their own necessity to change, reform and modernize,” says the Mideast expert Stephen P. Cohen. . .

    . . .Of course, if we do fail, that will be our tragedy. But for the Arabs, it will be a huge lost opportunity — one that will only postpone their future another decade. Too bad so few of them have the courage to stand up and say that. I guess it must be another one of those “Zionist” plots.  http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/09/opinion/09FRIE.html?th

  25. > Josh: as a liberal, I would want equal distribution of the wealth.

    > Lili: many ME governments already have serious distribution and re-distribution of wealth

    Bear in mind: I was talking about the proceeds from the oil, which as a natural resource belongs to everyone, in my mind.

  26. Posted by: Joe Katzman on May 9, 2004 05:18 PM
    “This is nice. Unfortunately, I think Frank is right: handing out toys is nice, but it isn’t a substitute for solving the real problems: unemployment and lack of electricity.”

    That will happen too. The Marines have plans for assisting the Iraqis in fixing the infrastructure too – they’ve gotten sidetracked a bit because of the unrest but they’ll get there. Handing toys to the kids is an excellent investment in the future.

    Posted by: Josh Yelon on May 9, 2004 05:50 PM
    “Small humanities are remembered forever! I recall how the U.S. gifts of little things like chocolates, cigarettes and stockings are remembered by the once devastated European populace.”

    Absolutely right. Last year, I was wearing my blue star mom’s pin when an elderly woman asked me where my son was. I told her about his work with the 1/7 Marines to rebuild the An Najaf province and described some of the ways we were helping (sending school supplies and backpacks to the Civil Affairs staff). She had tears in her eyes as she described how, as a child in WWII Germany, she received chocolate and chewing gum from American troops. Over sixty years later, it remains a positive memory for her.

  27. The one with the soldier giving the kid the ball is a very touching one. It is a humanization of the military forces and it sows that soldiers are people and that they care a lot about the things they do and about the children they encounter.

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