Making the Best of It
The shit will probably hit the fan for the American unit seen partying in a Baghdad bar. I’m glad I am not the clearly identifiable soldier (the link is to the entire photo gallery; you have to scroll through the photos. I think he's number 5)chain dancing with Iraqi patrons. Or the officer in charge of the patrol. If they’re smart, the soldiers will play up the “normalcy” and openness of the New Baghdad and describe the dancing as a form of integrating with the Iraqi people. Explaining soldiers drinking beer on patrol will be more difficult, I believe.
What caught my eye, though, were the Iraqis, mostly men but a few women, all dressed Western-style. Not a headscarf in view anywhere. Several women were described in the photos as prostitute, hired dancer or performer. I wondered how many of the male patrons men would look with favor on seeing their sister or daughter portrayed as a prostitute in a major newspaper? (The prostitute may not have a living brother or father, a very real possibility in post-invasion Iraq. But that's another story.) A successful singer is okay for secular Iraqis, I guess, but some Iraqis still believe that singing and dancing are capital offenses. The brother of the prostitute may kill her because she brings dishonor to his family.
The consequences of this night out probably won’t be pleasant for the principals involved. American commanders will not be happy, especially with statements that suggest that US forces are routinely drinking on the job. But no Americans are likely to die for their actions. I can’t say that for the Iraqis.