Friday, May 12, 2006

Dirty Laundry

Summary: Why is it that a significantly higher percentage of Iraqis support American and Coalition troops in their country than do American citizens? The problem lies with “Dirty Laundry” (with special thanks to Don Henley for his prescient lyrics of 25 years ago).

Progess here in Iraq, although slow, is consistent. There are a lot of good things going on here, and this makes a lot of Iraqi people and American soldiers happy. Somehow, this message is not making it all the way back to the American public, though. Could it be because...

I make my living on the evening news
Just give me somethin’, somethin’ I can use
People love it when you lose
They love dirty laundry
In his book, Saddam’s Secrets, Georges Sada makes it clear that not only are nearly all Iraqis glad that the United States and other countries are in Iraq helping them to shed the legacy of Saddam Hussein, most Iraqis were very sad and frustrated to see us leave after Operation Desert Storm in 1991, when, to them, the task at hand had been barely begun. As a result of our leaving prematurely back then, tens of thousands of Iraqis were hauled off, lined up, and shot, their bodies buried in mass graves. Others, such has tens of thousands of Kurds, were not so fortunate—their deaths were prolonged by the agony that can be obtained by suffering through the effects of chemical Weapons of Mass Destruction (for you liberals out there who have willfully forgotten the connection, the phrase Weapons of Mass Destruction is often abbreviated as WMD). But you don't really care, because all you want is entertainment from yours news media.
Well I could have been an actor, but I wound up here
I just have to look good, I don’t have to be clear
Come and whisper in my ear
Give us dirty laundry
Better late than never, we returned to Iraq to finish a job that, had it been finished correctly the first time, would have made millions of people richer (rank and file Iraqis) and a handful of people poorer (see below).

It's funny how the news media really dosen't care what the Iraqi people think.
Kick ‘em when they’re up, Kick ‘em when they’re down
Kick ‘em when they’re up, Kick ‘em all around
It’s funny how the news media always tells you about other people’s dirty laundry while their hide their own and that of their friends. Inquiring minds notice--and their noses smell--a hidden stench, and after careful searching the hidden source of the odor becomes clear. In the interim of Operations Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, was the Oil for Food Program, instigated by the United Nations. This program is less often referred to by its own code name—Operation Dirty Laundry (ODL). It’s not too hard to follow the ODL money trail, and the money trail makes it a bit more clear why so many people from America, Germany, France, and other nations want us to fail in Operation Iraqi Freedom—because Operation Dirty Laundry ultimately failed, and they are down 0 to 1. It’s time for them to even the score so that they can finish rewriting themselves out of this sordid and embarrassing chapter of history. It becomes clear why the United Nations, far from being a help during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), has actually become a net hindrance.

Saddam profited enormously during Operation Dirty Laundry, at the expense of his countrymen. But he wasn’t the only one. All up and down the money trail one finds kickbacks to various United Nations “employees” and other international playboys, including playboys from America. But...

You got the bubble headed bleach blonde, comes on at 5
She can tell you bout the plane crash
With a gleam in her eye
It’s interesting when [soldiers] die
Give us dirty laundry
There are actually more news organizations than one might think out there dedicated to the truth and not to the denizens of Operation Dirty Laundry. Every once in a while, though, even the dirty organizations throw something good out there to throw you off the scent. As long as you can distinguish between fresh scents and filthy odors, it might be okay to sample these news organizations from time to time. I suggest you use the Stupid Test. I have used this successfully on numerous occasions and have been able to severely curtail my intake of rotten news (as well as other fare that tries to pass itself off as entertainment). If you’re not sure about a news source, watch it or read it three times. If it’s high on the stupid meter three times in a row, you are statistically safe in assuming that it will be stupid forever. Because...

We can do the innuendo, we can dance and sing
When it’s said and done we haven’t told you a thing
We all know that crap is king
Give us dirty laundry
The most important thing in determining where you stand in the war on terror is an open mind. Ask yourself such stimulating questions as “Why do more Iraqis than Americans support OIF?” The American poll numbers are not the most important. The Iraqi ones are. Most Americans have no idea what’s going on over here, and many of them couldn’t care less except for the dirty laundry that has become a perfume to their noses every night at 5 PM.

The second most important item to have in ferreting out the truth about OIF and the war on terror? A good sniffer. Don Henley gives us some good advice:

You don’t really need to find out what’s goin’ on
You don’t really wanna know just how far it’s gone
Just leave well enough alone
Keep your dirty laundry


Frank Staheli said...


I noticed you had made a comment about the time I was making edits to this post. For whatever reason, after my edits, I could no longer get to the main body of the post.

I, therefore, deleted the post and resubmitted it.

Please feel free to re-add your comment to the post. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Matt said...

All I can say Frank, is that I'd really be interested to see some of this stuff first hand like you. The media over here makes it look like the Iraqis absolutely despise us and that nothing we did was worthwhile. I can understand them about wanting us to leave eventually, I mean honestly who would want a foreign military in their country forever. However, that's not the same, NOT EVEN CLOSE to what the media is portraying. I don't even need to tell you what the media is potraying it as over here, you know better than me. I try to glean some on the ground info of "over there" but not with much success. I guess the media likes the bad better than the good.

Frank Staheli said...


A man from Baghdad recently said, according to one of our intel briefs, "Yes I want you to 50 years or so."

I have to say that it was confusing for the Ramadi sheikhs when, after the December 15th referendum was over, we were still here. But some communication has gotten them to understand and buy in to what we're trying to do to help stabilize Iraq so the insurgency isn't able to 'pull the rug out from under them' when we leave.

I should perhaps highlight in a future post (1) some of the things Georges Sada said in his book (Saddam's Secrets) and (2) the number (and trend) of Iraqi Army and Police that are now qualified to serve and defend.

In Ramadi, for example there are now more than 2,000 fully qualified policemen (with many insurgents carefully weeded out, but I'm sure some got through) after initially (a year ago) noone had the courage to volunteer for the training program.

Iraqi Army personnel are becoming ubiquitous as well, performing many more military functions in this area than they used, and getting very good at it and proud of the contributions they are making.

Geof said...

It's funny you mention WMD's because last time I checked, it was a Republican administration that left the Iraqi Shias and Kurds for dead after openly calling for them to rise up. Not only that, they were the same ones who prevented the UN from condemning Saddy when he used those same weapons against the Iranians.

That being said, it is very refreshing to hear that Iraqi military personell are really starting to get their shit together, especially since many analytical reports coming out of Iraq had their capabilities sitting at levels similar to South Vietnamese Army units during the 70's.

Frank Staheli said...


You are right. I agree with you that the Bush 1 administration made a mistake on pulling out so soon in 1991. I have heard that they expected the Sunni military leadership to rise up against Saddam, and when it became the Shia instead there was no backup plan for the use of American force (I guess because we assumed that the Sunni would have control of enough military power to get the job done). But the resulting slaughter of the Shia in the aftermath was a tragedy.

As for using WMDs against the Iranians, I don't support what we did either. There was this big balance of power thing at the time, where it seemed like we didn't care who killed who as long as it didn't get too out of balance.

There is no question that America has helped to cause a lot of the problems in the Middle East. What we are doing now I believe is making up for those past mistakes. We are trying to help Iraq become free, and as they succeed at this, other nations in the area will achieve their own freedom as well. And America will be much safer as a result.

Geof said...

Thank you for your response.

I think that what you ended with is a truly admirable goal, and I believe that everyone in America can agree to that. The usual problem with the situation is that people have a tough time agreeing on what is exactly the best way to do it. Some say hands on, some say hands off. Our army on the ground is in a great position to effect important change, hopefully for the betterment of everyone involved, American and Iraqi.
Then again, having an army in another person's country has its own set of problems, many of which have already been on this site.

The worrisome thing about the Saddam-WMD-Iranian War situation is that it was part of a Cold War-Good vs. Evil mentality that made deals with unsavory people in the pursuit of a greater purpose. Whether or not those deals needed to be made in the first place is whole nother kettle of fish. More relevant to the current situation is the fact that most of those deals have come back to bite us. What we need to watch out for in this War on Terror is the same type of thing, where we cosey up to unsavory types for the sake of finding terrorists.

How this Iraqi government turns out is of the utmost importance. Now I don't expect you Army guys to be omniscient about everything that's going on over in Iraq, but is there any sort of sense about how effectively the government is being put back together? Democracy and freedom is all nice and dandy, but what happens if it turns out a majority government that is either highly religious, or anti-American (maybe not rabidly so, but at least not friendly), or both?

Frank Staheli said...


Thank you for your contribution and insights. I agree with what you've written, particularly that (1) many of our historic deals have come back to bite us, (2) that it's not in our best interest to side with one set of bad guys just to catch another set of bad guys (I hope I got your sentiment right), and (3) it is difficult to determine the best way (hands on/hands off) to help Iraq achieve liberty.

As to your question on how the government will turn out--I hope my high optimism is not misplaced, but that is a lot of what my opinion is based on. In my limited sphere of working with Iraqi troops and civilian employees I see a lot of optimism in their eyes as well.

I suspect there will be some growing pains between parts of the constitution that could be interpreted as conflicting, that is, first: Islam as the primary religion of Iraqi society along with the facets of Sharia (Islamic Law), versus second: individual liberties, to include women's equality and the right to convert from Islam to another religion.

On a positive note, it appears thus far that women are being encouraged to participate in government in healthy numbers, while on the other hand Georges Sada expresses concern over the Sharia tenet that one converting away from Islam can be put to death.

Geof said...

Sounds good to me. For now I'm going to get back to writing up the research I've been doing on blogging and the military. I hate to drift off topic, but seeing as you are involved with computer stuff over in Iraq, you might be able to help me out a bit with my paper. How easy is it for military personell over in Iraq to set up internet blogs? Are there any sort of restrictions or criteria that must be met in order for a serviceman to set up one of these things? Any insights you have on military blogs will be well appreciated.

I look forward to more posts and/or more discussion. Cheers.