Just a few quotes; the first one would have been nice to know up and down the Chain of Command.
“You aren’t going to Iraq to change the Iraqis. Just the opposite. We are fighting this war to preserve the principle of ‘live and let live.’ “And this quote is for Skippy.
“Don’t stare at anyone who is praying, above all do not make fun of him. Respect his religion as he will respect yours.”
“Bread to the Moslems is holy. Don’t throw scraps of it about or let it fall on the ground.”
“Don’t eat pork or pork products in front of Moslems.”
“Talk Arabic if you can to the people. No matter how badly you do it, they will like it.”
“Be generous with your cigarettes.”
“To repeat—don’t make a pass at any Moslem woman or there will be trouble. Anyway, it won’t get you anywhere. Prostitutes do not walk the streets but live in special quarters of the cities.”Good 'ole Lt. Col. Nagl kind of wraps up my thoughts.
As Nagl—who has spent quite a bit of time in Iraq, not to mention helped write the Army’s new counterinsurgency manual and the already-classic guerrilla warfare study Learn to Eat Soup with a Knife—writes in his introduction, a lot of the material contained in this booklet would have been, well, nice to know beforehand. Time after time Nagl points to nuggets of advice in the 60-plus-year-old booklet and affirms that they are absolutely still applicable today. But most likely the book was forgotten in some cavernous archive that nobody in the Pentagon bothered to search; being too busy following Rumsfeld’s neo-con dictums.
Nagl writes, “It is a sad fact of history that armies all but invariably forget the lessons of prior campaigns and have to relearn them from scratch when war begins again, at the cost of too many soldiers’ and civilian lives.” He is most likely correct, but that doesn’t make such tragically stupid mistakes any easier to bear when they happen.