“Trust is paramount in today’s Iraq, where – under the security pact between the two countries – every military patrol is now supposed to be Iraqi-led and American-supported. The shooting death Tuesday of an American soldier and his interpreter by two Iraqi police officers threatens to undermine that trust….Trust is still developing between Iraqi and American forces, according to U.S. and Iraqi soldiers interviewed in Mosul”
(“Shooting of four U.S. troops highlights trust issues between two forces,” by Heath Druzin, Stars and Stripes Mideast edition, 27 February 2009).
“A U.S. soldier and an Iraqi interpreter were killed Tuesday and three American troops were injured when gunmen, who officials said wore Iraqi police uniforms, fired on them in the northern city of Mosul. It was the third time since November that men in Iraqi security force uniforms have attacked American forces in Nineveh province”
(“Gunmen in police uniforms kill U.S. soldier, Iraqi in Mosul,” by Tina Susman, Los Angeles Times, 25 February 2009).
A very interesting video that I learned about thanks to SuperGodiva (originally via Alternet.org), this seems to answer one question I had: why do some American trained Iraqi policemen suddenly open fire on their American military partners? (See for example this news report, and this one). Possible answer: they were reminded about where their political loyalty had to lie.
As a motivational speaker the American trainer below will not be seen anytime soon as the featured attraction of the next “direct sales” convention at your local Holiday Inn. In some respects, his speech perfectly resembles that of indoctrination-by-abuse — in sociology it is called “resocialization,” and is typical of what adults undergo as they join either “cults” or any new institutional setting with radically different norms and hierarchies. The added irony of the American trainer in this video is that he is preaching loyalty to Iraq, to Iraqis, as an invader and occupier, while using misogynist insults and indulging in fear of ethnic others (specifically exploiting/reworking Shia versus Sunni divides). In the latter case, he is tearing down the loyalty to the nation-state that he claims he wants these men to fight for.
Some might object to the criticism of this scene from an anti-colonial perspective, noting that similar situations are played out within the U.S. military’s own internal training. It’s not a good objection if one takes a broad view of colonialism that does not fixate on either international or intercultural boundaries, but rather as a violent process where one entity is implanted and occupies part of another, such as a settlement, or an idea. The oppression is isomorphic, as Indian cultural psychologist Ashis Nandy argues, and is transferred from one to the other. While colonialism may unleash certain forces that were already latent within the colonized society, clearly the form of oppression itself also stems from internal social forces among the colonizers. Having brutalized themselves, they have perfected the art of brutalizing others. Having been brutalized by others, they achieve mastery in brutalizing themselves.
But some do not learn their lessons very well, and instead open fire on their trainers. There is therefore always room for hope, and reason to celebrate it.
For some parallels, the video below is a popularized example of such training, featuring actor Ronald Lee Ermey, “The Gunny,” in Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 movie Full Metal Jacket. Ermey plays the role so well given his own 11 years of experience in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served as a Staff Sergeant, later receiving the honorary title of Gunnery Sergeant (in the film he plays Gunnery Sergeant Hartman). Ermey fought in Vietnam for 14 months. (His first role in movies was as a helicopter pilot in Apocalypse Now. He also worked as a technical advisor to both Francis Ford Coppola and Stanley Kubrick.) See Ermey’s official website, and the entries at Wikipedia and IMDB.
As some might recall, one of the trainees who is particularly abused in the film, eventually opens fire on the trainer (Sgt. Hartman) and kills him.