Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A Sometimes Tense Relationship

The other morning I was manning our guard post as a Marine convoy came by. Another convoy had just barely gone past in the opposite direction, requiring serveral civilian vehicles to pull to the side of the road. Just as the civilian vehicles began to accelerate onto the road and go about their daily business, the marines appeared, catching a large group of civilian cars on a narrow piece of road where there was no room to again pull to the shoulder. I certainly hope that the Iraqis in those vehicles did not understand the filthy English employed by the Marine turret gunner that morning as his required them to pull off and stop again, but I am confident they understood perfectly his body language.

I'm sure that this Marine has seen much more of the traumatic and violent than I have during his stay in Iraq, but nonetheless, I was very frustrated by his utterly disrespectful behavior. Perhaps he was concerned that one of the cars may have been a VBIED (Vehicle-Borne Improvised Exposive Device), but besides the fact VBIEDs are uncommon in this area, the convoy ultimately passed by within inches of the string of civilian vehicles, a behavior out of keeping when one fears a potential VBIED. My opinion, then, is that this particular Marine just likes to yell at people whom he has decided to treat as less than human for what ever reason. I wish I could have given him a lesson in common courtesy and respect. But then again maybe he could have given me a lesson from experience of not knowing who's in the insurgency and where they will strike next. I don't know...

It seems, from what little I've observed so far, that the Marines are not as well liked as the Soldiers by the Iraqis. Marines, probably because they generally get the tougher combat responsibilities, seem to have less patience for the Iraqi people.

During a recent, jovial roadside conversation (while fellow soldiers were searching his car) an Iraqi man, with a twinkle in his eye, said "You are different than those in the brown uniforms." But I wonder how my outlook might change if I become the target of indiscriminate insurgent violence. I'd rather not find out...

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