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April 9, 2003

V-I Day? Maybe so. May it be all to the good, may the suffering be comforted, may the future be bright. Hope so.

This is a remarkable photograph. This is moving as hell. There’ll probably be a lot of this. For now, hope. [09:36 PM]

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Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on V-I Day?:

Claire ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2003, 10:55 PM:

I learned a thing tonight. On CNN no less: Hitting people with the bottom of shoes is an ultimate insult.

This makes perfect sense, given the overall concern of Arabic concern for cleanliness, ie right hand/left hand use: imagine you eat food with your right hand and clean 'um' stuff with your left.

So I hit you (a representation of you) with what I walk on all the time. It's not much but it's all I've got. And if I managed to walk in something before I hit the object.

Symbols mean something.

The only thing that I wish is that the guys who are running this thing has actually taken some history classes..

Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2003, 12:12 AM:

Nice point, Claire. IIRC, in some Islamic societies, we Westerners have to learn how to sit so as not to display the soles of our shoes to our hosts, to avoid offense.

David Bilek ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2003, 01:14 AM:

I never thought I'd see the day when my first impression of a picture depicting an American soldier on patrol in full combat gear, with weapon, is: "Wow, she's cute".

Cognitive dissonance.

But seriously, I thought women were still barred from ground combat duties? How is being "on patrol" in Baghdad not front-line combat duty? If women are walking patrols in combat zones, what exactly are they *not* allowed to do?

Stefanie Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2003, 01:33 AM:


I just assumed that since she's in Basra she's British. Anyone know for sure?

Yay that it was this easy so far. Triple yay that Saddam's regime is kaput. Hosanna!

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2003, 01:37 AM:

She's a brit; "2nd Light Tank Regiment" isn't an American formation, she's in Basra, and that isn't any mark of M16 she's holding.

She's remarkably, startlingly, neat and clean; that may be because the basing situation outside Basra is pretty good, or because she personally really cares, or because the 2nd Light Tank just went into the line, but it surprises me rather somewhat.

And I know I got a bit of stick last time I said this, but the reason women can't get into the 'combat' arms in the US Army has nothing to do with harms way and lots to do with career tracks; you can't get to be CENTCOM without coming up via a combat arm.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2003, 01:47 AM:

I hope some Iraqi *girls* get to see Samantha. And grow up demanding to dress however they want and do whatever they want.

I hope Saddam lives just long enough to see people pounding on his statues with their slippers. Dying a schmuck and a loser would be a greater justice and a worse humiliation than putting him on trial.

David Bilek ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2003, 02:03 AM:

Hah! Yeah, that's definitely not an M-16. When the caption said she was from "Plymouth", I automatically pegged her as being from Massachusetts. Oooops.

Simon Bradshaw ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2003, 02:07 AM:

She's definitely British; that's UK-style desert DPM, a UK helmet and the UK's SA-80 rifle.

It is true that the British Army does not employ women in direct combat roles. However, this is limited to core troops in such arms, e.g. infantry soldiers or tank crews. Women can and do serve within such units as embedded support staff; this soldier is probably a technician, supplier, clerk or signaller attached to her regiment. For that matter, many elements of the British Army that are only slightly removed from direct combat such as artillery, field engineering and signals are integrated.

As for being neat and clean, it's worth noting that the British Army has been at Basra for some two weeks now, even though it was only able to enter the city in the last few days. As such its soldiers have probably had more opportunity for personal upkeep than US forces who have been fighting their way north for the last three weeks.

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2003, 02:31 AM:

Oh, and I'm sure they have their water and quatering system entirely under control, but she isn't even dusty, her helmet cover looks new, and so does most of the rest of her kit. Really startlingly crisp.

Stefanie Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2003, 02:46 AM:

Sigh. I should never write when I'm this tired. FWIW, by 'yay that it was this easy so far' I of course meant 'yay that it got no worse than it has so far when it could have gotten even more horrible.' In no way did I mean to dismiss the suffering that's been all too common, or the sad fact that it ever got to this....

Graydon: I was struck by her clean/crispness, too. A tiny suspicious part of me momentarily considered whether she might be part of the Telegenic Squad that gets called for heavy photo ops. :)

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2003, 07:47 AM:

I never thought I'd see the day when my first impression of a picture depicting an American soldier on patrol in full combat gear, with weapon, is: "Wow, she's cute".

Well, aside from the gender word there, happens to me all the time! The soldiers in the PATH station (or are they National Guard?) get me this way every day. I think they shouldn't be there, and their guns are scary, but my (perverted old) eye is very, very happy!

Ben ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2003, 10:47 AM:

She's British alright. But I've never heard of the 2nd Light Tank Regiment. There's the Second Royal Tank Regiment, but their tank crews are all-male.

kla. ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2003, 12:32 PM:

I thought the young girl in the fourth linked photograph was so lovely I felt the need to post a comment stating as much. I've seen so many videos and photographs of the peoples of Iraq and there have been so very many striking faces, if not breathtakingly beautiful. Not to say that ugly people don't deserve freedom from oppression and violence, but these faces of the people of Iraq have been prominent in my mind. Makes me want to go there and bring my camera. So many fascinating faces.

Paul ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2003, 12:58 PM:

Vive la Coalition! Vive la Liberté! Égalité! Fraternité!

There's lots I hope for looking at those photos. I hope these people get the Iraq they deserve. I hope their country isn't sold off to the highest bidder. I hope Salam Pax has lived to tell his story. And I hope Saddam Hussein's last thoughts are of how much his country despised him.

Now to clean up the mess. Soundbitten suggests ways we can all help.

Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2003, 01:20 PM:

That woman soldier is British. I was confused, too, until I saw that the site where the picture is located is "Yahoo U.K. & Ireland".

And I love the image of the woman slapping Saddam's statue with what looks to me like bedroom slippers! (I would be willing to send mine to Iraq for the purpose.) Sic semper tyrannis!

The last picture is sad, but as Patrick says, there's probably a lot of that happening, or going to happen, and much of it we don't get to see at all.

Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2003, 01:44 PM:

In the case of the US, I think women can be MPs (military police), so I'd think they would be eligible for patrol duty in a town that's already under nominal control.

hamletta ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2003, 01:56 PM:

I hope some Iraqi *girls* get to see Samantha. And grow up demanding to dress however they want and do whatever they want.

Women actually did quite well in Iraq, because of the socialist aspects of the regime. Full educational and career opportunities, no dress codes. It's not Afghanistan.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2003, 03:33 PM:

You're right, hamletta, but over the last few years Saddam has been pushing traditionism to gain favor with the rest of the region. Thus the banning of liquor, and -- perhaps a mistaken assumption on my part -- women going back into modest dress.

Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2003, 05:53 PM:

OOPS! Correction: for "last picture" in my post a while back, please read "third picture"; I hadn't looked at the fourth one yet.

Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2003, 06:30 PM:

They aren't "supposed" to be in such situations, but American women actually have fought in combat in this war in Iraq, as Patrick has already pointed out. Jessica Lynch apparently gave a showing worthy of an action movie hero before she was captured.