Puff piece on the Iraqi Army

It’s probably been fifteen years since I bothered reading anything in the Parade magazine in my Sunday paper. But this week’s cover story is Is the Iraqi Army Ready?:


(The full story won’t be available online until later in the week.)

Though written by a former Marine who served in Iraq in 2004, the article is basically a puff piece with a few things thrown in to underscore the difficulties we and the Iraqi people face.

I was astounded, however, by one Iraqi soldier called “Muhammad”:

“Before the United States came here, no one cared who was Sunni or Shia,” Muhammad says, responding with candor to my query about his religious sect. “Everyone was Iraqi.” He smiles respectfully, but his twitching facial muscles betray the bitterness in his heart and the tragedy he has endured. [emphasis Murdoc’s]

This claim that no one cared who was Sunni or Shia is, on the face of it, basically ludicrous. But it’s even more ludicrous if we look at who made it.

One guess as to which this Muhammad character is. (use your mouse to select the text below to reveal the shocking answer)

Muhammad, 25, a married father of two, was in his second year at the Iraqi Military Academy when Saddam Hussein’s regime fell in 2003. A native of a Sunni region north of Baghdad, Muhammad is clean-shaven, with an athletic build.

So the guy basically claiming that Sunni-Shia conflict is due to the United States is a Sunni from “north of Baghdad”. (Tikrit, you’ll recall, is also “north of Baghdad”.) And he was in the military academy. So this guy’s family/tribe was probably, at the very least, a wealthy and well-favored one. Possibly even closely connected to the ruling class, he certainly didn’t come from an outcast background. No wonder he never noticed that people cared whether one was Sunni or Shiite.

Pardon Murdoc for his civilian middle-class whiteness, but isn’t this just a bit like a Southern plantation owner saying, in 1866, that no one had cared if you were white or black in South Carolina until the Union came and messed everything up?

Don’t worry though. Parade claims to have a readership of 74 million. I wonder how many of those now think that the United States is responsible for the conflict between Sunni and Shia?

Oh. And couldn’t the “twitching facial muscles” have been caused by depleted uranium poisoning from American tank guns? Or maybe by exposure to white phosphorous fumes? Or by malnutrition during the years of trade sanctions? I mean, there’s probably at least a dozen plausible ways the United States could have caused his twitching facial muscles. Why limit ourselves to “bitterness in his heart”?

At least Murdoc’s not bitter over media coverage of the war. It will probably be another fifteen years before he reads another story in Parade, though.


  1. Hmmm. Could it be that the ‘twitching facial muscles’ refer to Muhammad’s effort to keep a straight face while he punks the gullible interviewer? I’m just sayin’…

  2. I do love thier uniforms. Every time I see them, I assume I’m looking at my Gulf War buddies. It always takes a second to remember that it’s now exclusively an Iraqi uniform – and irony sets in. At least we didn’t adopt their crapping old uniforms.