The Americans Are Living in a Movie - The full article

Below is a full translation of the Ynet article. I think it is interesting, as it gives an "insider" view that is usually not seen.

The Americans Are Living in a Movie

Journalist Itai Angel spent two weeks in torn and bloodied Iraq for the show “Uvda” [fact]. He walked about the cities of Fallujah and Baghdad with a camera, with the American forces, with which he also drove over a bomb, and with the new Iraqi army and citizens. The conclusions that he brings point to a grim future for a country that the Bush government is shaping in the media as a “democracy on the way”

by Itai Angel

I’m approaching the dozens of citizens clustered on the corner of the Fallujah market. For that I leave the American forces – and I’m petrified with fear.

I’m afraid because every day somebody is abducted here. Especially foreigners and journalists. What a change compared to what I experienced the last time I got to Iraq two and half years ago. Then I was in Najaf with the Shiites, in Sunni Tikirt with the relatives and supporters of Saddam. Whole days with no soldiers around. Just me and them. And talking. Everything was ok. Even pleasant. There were good conversations. Some were happy with the change in Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam. Others, naturally those who had won preferred living conditions under the old regime, were totally depressed. But it was possible to sit and talk with everybody. After a day or two, sometimes even after a few hours, it was also possible to tell them I’m Israeli and it would go down smoothly because we were already friends and it seemed that nobody really has any strength to go on fighting. The dominant feeling was that this was it. It’s over. Whether it’s suitable or not, there’s nothing more to do. It’s over.

What over? Very quickly it would turn out that the real war was going to be run less by Iraqis, and more by strangers. Jihad.

The idea of Jihad is a holy war of every Muslim that may be against a foreign conqueror. Within a short period of time close to 100,000 warriors streamed into Iraq. It’s very easy to enter Iraq. The borders are open. Thousands of trucks cross the border every day and they don’t pass through a rigorous security check. Anybody can come in. Inside the country there’s enough weapons for everybody. The Jihad fighters come especially from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Chechnia, Pakistan and Yemen, with the aim of killing and destroying anything that is Iraq under American rule. That is, to hurt not just American soldiers, but also every Iraqi who enlists in the army or volunteers for the police force, to blow up oil, water and sewage pipes, cafes and even mosques and to kill every Iraqi who feels they can profit from the new situation – meaning especially the Shiite majority. The main idea is to create a daily existence that is so atrocious that even those who supported overthrowing the regime will now have to admit and say that even under Saddam Hussein life was better.

Journalists and foreign citizens were marked among the targets of this system. Almost every week you can see a home video of an abducted citizen begging for his life and in most cases, a later announcement about his execution. Because of this I didn’t really plan on leaving the American forces. It’s just that if I wanted to try and do more serious journalist work, I had no choice.

America Good? They should get out of here

The feeling I got when I went around with the American army in Baghdad or Fallujah is that the Americans are living in a movie. I don’t know if to despise them or admire them, but they are really convinced that they’re the liberators of Iraq, the people who brought light and joy to the citizens of Iraq, that everybody loves and admires them and not less important, they’re sure that this Iraq, in which Sunnis, Kurds and Shiites kill each other even without the help of foreign fighters, will become a Western democracy.

When a citizen from Fallujah, the Sunni city that conducted the toughest battle against the American army, sees a division of marines and next to them a journalist asking him questions he will immediately answer: “America good. America good.” He will just want to get out of this in one piece. The Americans, by the way, are convinced his answer’s authentic. After I saw some “America good” like that and saw the accompanying fake expression, I understood that to really hear the citizens of Fallujah I’ll have to talk to them alone. Just me and them.

When I got to them I said I’m an American, but not a soldier, just a journalist who wants to talk and hear them. After some clarifications from their side about me, they started to put it all out: “The Americans are a bunch of murderess. They kill women and children without blinking, bomb mosques and piss on Koran books. They’ll get out of Iraq, and until that happens we’ll kill as many as possible.”

Fallujah was quiet that day. I had a feeling that those same citizens where more excited than expressing a practical modus operandi. Five days after I left I heard a report that a roadside bomb exploded in the city and killed 15 marines. That was the single most deadly terrorist act against American forces since August of last year.

I got “my” roadside bomb in southern Baghdad. To be precise, the “Hummer’ in front of me got it. When I taped the second of the explosion, through the shaking of the vehicle in which I was sitting, I was sure that everybody who was sitting in the Hummer that got it, had been killed. Immediately it turned out that luckily, only one soldier had been lightly injured, since the charge had been set off once the rear wheel got to it. If it would have exploded a quarter of a second earlier, it would have ended bad.

Once the Americans get a bomb, they immediately leave their movie and enter a new one. In this movie – everybody is the bad guys. All the men are terrorists. All the women are accomplices to terror. All the boys and girls know what’s happening and lie because that’s their culture. The Americans shout to them all “fuck”, “mother fucker” and “fucking bitch”. The Iraqis, on their part, never open their mouth. [This can be seen in the accompanying movie, btw].

On the one hand, you can understand the Americans’ frustration. The way the war is going on today, they don’t see their enemy and it drives them crazy. A roadside explosive charge is activated from a distance of several hundred meters, usually from a village on the side of the road, and in the minute or two that pass till they get to it, the operator of the charge already got rid of the cell phone or wires that activated it and managed to pick a hoe and work peacefully in the field.

In my case, the Americans took out all their rage on the tractor from which the charge was set off by remote control. We’re talking about a tractor that would be completely out of commission if a box cutter would cut its wheel. But the American army, who’s already gone amok, launched Apache helicopters to the region, that will send down missiles, each of which costs as much as a particularly fancy American car.

An Army? Wait till they leave

The Iraq I saw and filmed was hallucinatory.

The most hallucinatory was the training of what’s called “the new Iraqi army”. Accepting the fact that one day they’ll leave, the Americans are now trying to train an Iraqi army that will fill the void. The Americans, again, either due to naivety or to a vision I hadn’t grasped, or in the framework of that movie they’re in, are convinced that all Iraqis whoever they may be will abandon his fanatical aspirations as Shiite, Sunni or Kurd and enlist for one common goal that was drawn up in Washington.

Just by looking at the training once can understand how complicated the business is, not to say groundless.

A marine was teaching a group of 30 Shiites how to shoot a machine gun. For this purpose he was using an Iraqi-Kurdish translator. When the marines weren’t listening, the Shiites told me how much they can’t stand the Americans and want them to get out of Iraq. When the Shiites weren’t listening, the Kurdish translator told me he hopes the Shiite soldiers won’t comprehend what he’s teaching them – because if they will, one day they’ll use it against his family and all the Kurds.

Source: Ynet (Hebrew)

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