Naming the Enemy

I've learned in Iraq that we GI's have named the enemy "Haji". In Arabic, Haji means any Muslim who has made the pilgrammage to Mecca -- so our use of the term isn't remotely sensitive or politically correct. But neither is the enemy we face.

During the Cold War era, the enemy was commonly referred to as "Ivan", a name that lasted at least through 1996 when I went through basic training. CW4 Ret. Michael Durant introduced the nation to the military's slang for the Somalian enemy ("Skinnies") in his book Black Hawk Down. Many of you will recall that the Vietnam enemy was known as "Charlie."

"Haji" is used to describe any kind of enemy or potential enemy here, from the conniving roadside bomb setters to the seemingly friendly local contractors, who we hesitate to trust just because they are locals and, we feel, could turn on us at any moment. A person does not have to be of any particular cultural background to qualify as "Haji" -- he or she must simply be someone we mistrust or feel could be out to harm U.S. interests.

Soldiers refer to the businesses owned and operated by local nationals as "Haji" shops. In briefings where the enemy is discussed, the slang is freely used. Two other, similar references -- "Dirka Dirka" and "Asa Lama legga" -- are coined from the movie "Team America". Soldiers can be extremely insensitive, but it seems the fear of being duped into trusting any locals only to become victims (like the casualties of last year's chow hall bombing in Mosul) makes you question everybody all the time, no matter who they are or where they come from, including the U.S.

By Bert Stover |  February 27, 2006; 9:30 AM ET  | Category:  Misc.
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Check out this article by Thomas Ricks that was published in the Post on 14 Feb, entitled "The Lessons of the Insurgency". The article details the one year mission of the 3rd ACR and their successful fight against the insurgency in the northern Iraqi city of Tall Afar. Here is an excerpt in which the commander of the 3rd ACR Col McMaster talks about the word "Haji".

"Every time you treat an Iraqi disrespectfully, you are working for the enemy," McMaster said he told every soldier in his command. He ordered his soldiers to stop using the term hajji as a slang term for all Iraqis, because he saw it as inaccurate and disrespectful. (It actually means someone who has made the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.)

Good luck and Godspeed on your deployement for the next year. Btw, I worked in Iraq for a year as a civilian firefighter at LSA Anaconda at Balad AB, and FOB Sykes, Tall Afar. I can honestly say I used the word "Haji" to describe Iraqis, Turks, Kurds, etc, but after reading the Ricks article, Col. McMaster certainly gives some valid reasons to refrain from using this slang.

Posted by: Dennis | February 27, 2006 12:00 PM

Sorry, the name of the Ricks article is "The Lessons of Counterinsurgency".

Posted by: Dennis | February 27, 2006 12:04 PM

Dear Bert,
I realize you and our fellow GIs have a difficult and dangerous job. I would not have sent you in the first place. Yet keep in mind how Americans would feel if China, for example, had unilaterally decided to invade our country, depose our president, and set up their brand of democracy (or communism) in our country.

While Americans may believe we're on a noble cause, we might have a different opinion about the nobility of a foreign invader's role in our internal affairs. It's important to keep the Iraqi's perspective in mind.

You are there due to the decision of our president. We wish you a quick and safe return. Yet it does not help your -- or our national -- cause to call these insurgents names.

Please try and remember that they didn't invade us, and whether they are truly an enemy will only be decided by history.

A great man is reported to have said:
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shall love they
neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you. Love your
enemies..." Matthew 5: 43-44

Posted by: Scott Goold | February 27, 2006 12:52 PM

If it helps soldiers stay on guard by fomenting a suspicion of everyone, then I say, keeping saying it.

Mr. Goold, enough with the comparison of the United States to Sadaam-ruled Iraq.

Posted by: Greg | February 27, 2006 01:01 PM

Thanks, it's good to know that the constant and continual source of racism and hatemongering in the US is the military. And you wonder why there's constant and continual diminishing support over the years...?

Posted by: Mike Anon | February 27, 2006 01:20 PM

to the contrary, there's no "constant and continaul diminishing support" to be aware of. Calling this racism is obviously have zero experience in the military.

Posted by: Dave | February 27, 2006 01:28 PM

There's is nothing like going into a country where we don't belong and insulting the locals. I love the notion "Hey, they all look alike to us" which Bert & Co. employ. Egad, doesn't anyone in the military have a brain anymore? It's no wonder U.S. soldiers are being blown up into confetti every other day.

Of course, Charlie in Vietnam and the Skinnies in Somalia ultimately had the last laugh on the name-calling Yanks -- but we won't get into that here.

Posted by: Ding Dong Donahue | February 27, 2006 01:33 PM

Bert, you fail to mention another term used by the military brass and information officers to refer to the enemy: AIFs, or "Anti-Iraqi Forces." I've got to say, I've read Orwell's 1984 and been exposed to every conceivable form of twisted logic and misleading propaganda, but this has got to win the prize for the most bizarre and twisted term of all. (I have to admit that it's not a new device. I have read similar language in Nazi propaganda concerning what they called the wonderful new unity of Europe under their benevolent occupation.)

The most powerful nation on earth invades and occupies Iraq, diretly or indirectly killing 30,000 to 100,000 of its people, and when they are faced with a violent response they call it "Ant-Iraqi." At the risk of stating the obvious, it would be much more accurate to call the Americans and Brits "anti-Iraqi forces."

Thanks for your blog and for thinking about the way words are used. It will be hard to resist the racism inherent to the occupation, so stay strong.

Posted by: an American | February 27, 2006 01:57 PM


Stay safe and thanks for your service. Come home soon.

"Naming the Enemy" is an understandable in times of war: de-personalizing the enemy as a psychological coping strategy. Political correctness at the front be damned. War is hell. Do what you need to do to survive: physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

I don't agree with this war, but I refuse to judge you or any one else in battle. "What's in a Name?" I know you value all human life including your desire to preserve your own and your squad mates...

Posted by: MFerrari | February 27, 2006 02:06 PM

My knowledge of the matter tells me that the term "Haji" refers not directly to the pilgrimage, but to "Haji" of Johnny Quest.

Soldiers always have pet names for the enemy, and killing is a hard business. The Plains Indians lived off of the buffalo, but in myth they personified him, and resurrected him each year, killing is a hard business. We do what we can to soften the blow.

Posted by: Zed | February 27, 2006 02:28 PM

I agree with what people are saying about softening the blow, but object to the idea that one accepts the war and the killing out of duty. Nothing is more important than the truth, and the truth is that the war is a criminal enterprise that should be utterly rejected. We should hope that Bert Stover and his colleagues come home alive, educated, and with the fortitude to help the American people reject and punish the criminals who got us into this.

Posted by: an American | February 27, 2006 02:35 PM

Tell me, if the war is as big a mistake as this one is, if it has actually made the international terrorist situation worse, can it still be ptriotic to be fighting it?

Posted by: nyrunner10 | February 27, 2006 02:41 PM

Nyrunner asks a difficult question. On one level, of course not. The war is very bad, a disaster in fact, for the United States. On the other hand, many people measure their patriotism by their willingness to entrust their fate to the political and military leadership. They are faced with a dilemma when that leadership is found, as our leaders have been found, to be utterly dishonest and contemptuous of the law and of human decency, and to be working at cross-puposes to our national interest, never mind their callousness about causing the death of tens of thousands of civilians. This is a very difficult problem for one who has been taught to respect and obey. We can only hope that many service people will come home and be willing to teach the consquences of obedience to this band of misleaders.

Posted by: an American | February 27, 2006 03:08 PM

it's about kids being sold something that they didn't buy to begin with...

they're coping...

that said, they need to not "believe" their coping tools so much as use them, if it keeps them alive to stay distant, then do that.

this is an occupation to control, not a war...

it's not going to be popular, unfortunately, the troops are being told that they're occupiers, they're being told that they are freedome fighters...sort of like the hessian troops in 1776...

Posted by: it's not about this or that... | February 27, 2006 03:32 PM

to an American ...
Actually, you are wrong - the war is not a criminal enterprise. Calling it that just supports the people who are trying to kill our solders everyday.

Posted by: TANSATAAFL | February 27, 2006 03:57 PM

I entered Army Basic Training just as Operation Desert Shield got under way, and all through training the drill sergeants constantly talked about the "ragheads" -- including reviving all the Vietnam-era "Jody calls" (marching songs) using "raghead" instead of "Charlie" (or other terms), referring to the targets on the rifle ranges as "ragheads", etc.

What impressed me was how successful this was at dehumanizing the (potential) enemy to the point where very few -- if any -- of us new soldiers gave any thought to the idea that we may have to kill a person.

Of course, no attempt was made to distinguish between the "ragheads" we were to kill and the Kuwaitis whose country we were liberating and the Saudis who were hosting and supporting our forces.

Posted by: Don't Forget Gulf War I | February 27, 2006 04:01 PM

There's an old saying I've heard from people who've been in combat that when the bullets start flying and your friends start dying, patriotism, philosophy, political correctness and all the touchie feelie nonsense goes out the window and you focus on killing the people trying to kill you.

In this case, these guys are up against an insurgency they cannot identify in a crowd of locals and sunject to the intense stress of living with the threat of imminent death on a daily basis. Dehumanizing the enemy is one of the key ways of ensuring they've got an out to cope with that level of intensity.

Really, American civilians just need to get the hell over it. Its an evil job we've asked them to do, and the only way they're going to do it and come home alive is to do it in the most evil manner available. War is the failure of diplomacy, so if you have an issue with the role these men and women are being asked to play, I'd suggest you get the hell off their backs and send Condi Rice a scathing letter asking her and her boss why your sons, daughters, siblings and cousins are being forced into carrying out their necessarily murderous jobs.

To those in uniform. You signed the paperwork, you knew going in that you would be in a position where another human life would be yours to end without regard. Get over it. Take the Bible, or any other navel gazing garbage you read, throw it out the window at 35,000 feet and do your damned job and get the hell home in one piece. You are now a part of a sanctioned killing machine facing a group of people that want you dead. If you can't handle that, get the hell out of the uniform, you do not deserve it.

Posted by: James Buchanan | February 27, 2006 04:13 PM

Mr. Buchanan has some excellent points, but as a consceintious objector from the Air Force in 2003, I would tell other military members to follow their conscience. War always involves evils done to other people, and dehumanizing is a part of that. Anybody who thinks that war can be wholly moral should think again- can the ends ever justify the means? i would hope military members would realize exactly what they've been told to do and refuse to do it. The sanctioned killing machine only works when the cogs keep shooting.

As for deserving the uniform, nobody deserves the kind of inhumanity war and the military bring.

Posted by: stephen potts | February 27, 2006 04:26 PM

for fighting "wars" overseas...

and it's certainly not meant to be a vechicle for coercion, that flys in the face fo why it was created.


Posted by: the natinonal guard is not supposed to be a vehicle... | February 27, 2006 04:33 PM

of refuge from fighting overseas...

at least it was for your sitting presidente' George, What-the-heck-do-I-care-about-you Bush...right?

that's how he _used_ it..

I wouldn't think most soldiers in the first wave of National Guardsmen sent overseas would be anything but P.O.ed....

yah dig...

Posted by: the other thing is the National Guard was supposed to be a place... | February 27, 2006 04:37 PM

It is entirely unreasonable to expect that volunteer infantry composed mostly of high school graduates, enduring day after day of combat strain, to be politically correct regarding the people who are drying their hardest to kill them. If a young soldier, indoctrinated by training and military culture uses a slur as a way to identify his (or her...we must be policially correct) enemy, so be it.

Having said that, the polital/religious aspect to this conflict means that such action is not helpful. Therein lies the problem. We send an ARMY(and the Marines, Air force, etc...we must be inclusive) to do a job that the most educated social scientists in the world can't agree on a course of action for. War is brutal, and to be overly sensitive when straight-up force is necessary gets men killed, no doubt. But we're not at war in the sense that we were at war in WWII, or even in Korea or Vietnam. We are fighting from a position of power in an environment that we ourselves defined by invading, and to ignore that is a conflict-lengthening mistake. Militarily, we can't be beaten. But we can't win the victory we need just by killing insurgents, either. There is far too much at stake to pull out to save our own lives at this point, but until we address the near-civil war in Iraq with something other than special ops, we won't be able to leave.
The problem is that the men who are fighting probably aren't the best equipped/trained to do that job, and that is probably our greatest mistake.

Posted by: JS | February 27, 2006 04:51 PM

Well, how comforting to see you guys have your killing fields/streets all rationalised to make you feel better, safe, sound, and secure.

For all the spin of the Pentagon and this administration, and having lived in Kandahar, Afghanistan while my father served with USAID, I can guarantee you that all the macho name-calling will not do one thing to 'win the hearts and minds' of the locals.

The Hajis we came to know and love were noble in their sacrifice to make their trip to Mecca, and humble in their quest to so follow their faith. Hajis are not the enemy and it concerns me greatly that 'men of honour' within the officer corps of the American military are leading others to turn this into a term of degradation. I am so ashamed of Americans who allow themselves to go serve in a foreign country and do not respect their host country enough to serously learn about the people or the culture (or the language, for that matter!). Talk about sowing frustration! You reap what you sow. When will our military learn this? There are plenty of great American servicemen who sincerely do care about the innocent Iraquis they go to serve, and their lives are the ones on the line whenever the Pentagon puffs its chest out, spews its propaganda, and infests the Iraqi countryside with more boots on the ground who shoot before engaging their brains and defecate the innocent.

I hope you will learn from the Iraquis and respect their dignity through the years of suffering they have endured. When have Americans suffered like this, so how would they know? Learn from the Brits how to keep peace with honour in a humane way.

Your's is not an easy task. My prayers are with you.

Posted by: D Simmons | February 27, 2006 04:55 PM

To: D. Simmons
I was cheering you on until your "Learn from the Brits" line. The British were the single greatest colonial power the world has ever seen, subjugating millions of indiginous people, stripping their lands on natural wealth while simultaniously trying to train the civilian' leadership out of their own culture into their own. They divided tribes and pitted them against one another to gain power, and even as recently as the time of Ghandi still used brutal supression methods and psychological intimidation to secure their hold on the "Crown Jewel" of the empire. Iraq, Afghanistan, and even Israel/Palestine are direct results of the British ability to "keep peace." I suggest you look at the historical facts a bit more carefully.

Posted by: Ellliot | February 27, 2006 05:07 PM

Mr. Stover:
I respect your duty greatly.
My question is: What is the political climate of the troops?
Is that something you can talk about?
What do the troops think of us wussies back home getting fat?
I have seen the men and women serving in Iraq in the airports.
I hope you can all come home soon.
Break a leg and I mean that in a good way.
Thanks for your reporting.

Posted by: | February 27, 2006 05:26 PM

To Elliot -

Thanks, Elliott. Yes, I did stick my neck out and refer to the Brits. I know the history well, and that is the point you raise -- it is history. In the presentness of today, most of the Brits I know are kicking themselves for the 'empire' and the colonialism they engaged in, and the fake geographical borders they created. But they are no longer an empire. They readily acknowledge they made colossal mistakes, but with each war they engage in, they have tried, at least in the past three decades, to learn from these mistakes.

From their point of view (and in their American history classes), Americans have been just as much a party to emperialism and repression by the way we treated our Native Americans, and by our collusion with the British Empire during the days of slavery (sugar, cotton, tobacco, etc). In our Westward Ho march towards the Pacific, you have to admit we were not too compassionate towards the Native Americans, Mexicans, Chinese immigrants, etc. Nor were we thoughtful to the Japanese Americans during WWII, or kind to the Viet Namese immigrant fishermen. We've taken plenty of potshots through the years at several groups defined by loyal American patriots as sub-human.

Besides, lately, Prince Charles is about the only Brit who has lamented so loudly at the demise of the British Empire. Bless him. (Would someone please loan him a hankey?)

Posted by: D Simmons | February 27, 2006 05:29 PM

Thanks, it's good to know that the constant and continual source of racism and hatemongering in the US is the military. And you wonder why there's constant and continual diminishing support over the years...?

I feel like I should respond to the ignorant comments above that were made by Mike Anon. I worked with the US Military in Iraq for a year at 2 different bases and I can not imagine a more color-blind organization associated with our country. Not only color blind, but compassionate toward the Iraq citizens. What you don't see on the evening and cable news are the hundreds of civil affairs projects that are being performed by our troops and civilians. Our personnel are repairing and building schools, clinics, water treatment plants, fire houses, government buildings. Near one of the bases I worked at an Army Engineering Company repaired a water treatment plant that now provides potable water to more than 150k people. As far as slang names for the enemy goes, that has been with us for as long as there have been wars and conflicts. Our own history includes, Lobsterbacks, Redcoats, Johnny Reb, Billy Yank, Huns, Jerrys, Japs, and Charlie.

Millions of our troops fought WWII and saved the world from the likes of Hitler and Tojo. They called the Germans "Huns" and "Jerrys", and the Japanese "Japs", and that does not make them racist. If you want to judge how a combatant treats an opponent one should look at what we did for these countries after the war. And you should also consider all of the postive things that our military and civilians are now doing to better the lives of Iraqi citizens. If you would like to learn about another aspect of this war read "Waging Peace: A Special Operations Team's Battle to Rebuild Iraq" by Rob Schultheis.

Posted by: Dennis | February 27, 2006 06:18 PM

Wow! Our troops are still being killed over there? I thought we already won or lost that one and brought everybody home. Didn't Bush say "Mission Accomplished?" WTF?

Well, keep up the good work. And call whoever you're fighting whatever you want. Makes no different back here.

PS: Don't feel too bad, we already forgot about the Katrina victims, too.

Posted by: JC | February 27, 2006 06:45 PM

Elliot et al,
'The British were the single greatest colonial power the world has ever seen'...
From an overseas perspective (I'm an Aussie) it appears that the American Empire has them all beat - hands down.
If any country on earth decides to violate 'American Inerests' they are likey to be bankrupted, invaded, subjected to sanctions, or all three.
The American Empire is such that my ten year old daughter seriously believes that 'America is in charge of the world - isn't it?
Unfortunately, she is correct.

Posted by: Jim Moylan | February 27, 2006 06:54 PM

Attaching some kind of name label to the "Other" has been around forever. My understanding of the etymology of "barbarian" is that it basically derives from a Greek slur to non-Greek speakers (who sounded apparently like they were saying "bar bar").

My own experience as an officer in the former Yugoslavia in the 90s was that the other factions called the Bosnian Muslims the "Turks" to evoke the fear of the Turks going back to the Middle Ages, the Serbs were the "Chetniks" referring to pre-WW II monarchy, and the Croats the "Ustashe" - the WW II Nazi puppet regime. Those are all names used by the other factions to describe and dehumanize the other.

Somewhat more playfully, some soldiers in my unit would refer to "Pivo and Slivo" (a local beer and a homemade plum brandy respectively) as names for generic Serbian or Croatian soldiers (who were fairly often intoxicated in our area).

Bert, for what it's worth, I don't think a leader should be encouraging a generic, population-wide term like "Haji" in a counter-insurgency. It reinforces an 'us versus them' mentality in an already fearful situation. Having said that, I will never judge you, as you are there and I am here.

God bless you, and come home safe.

Randal Carlson
Edmonton, Canada

Posted by: Randal | February 27, 2006 07:05 PM

I have to say this is the most warped and less comprehensible thread I've ever read online. Some people are creating excuses: they're high schoolers, it's a tough job, etc., (do we or don't we have the best military in the world?). Others are putting out the, "whatever gets you through your day" routine. As if us being there was the entire purpose.

The purpose in Iraq is to forment democracy (at least that's what my paper has been telling me the past 12 months). Not just simply to stay there. We help our cause not a bit by belittling, dehumanizing, and degrading those who live there.

Instead of being, "Reporting for Duty" this should be, "Reporting the Problem."

Posted by: Matthew | February 27, 2006 08:02 PM

the mindset of the military grunts in calling the enemy 'haji' is disturbing to me in that it seems to represent the enemy as all muslims (since aren't they all suppose to 'haj'). One of the biggest mistakes of this effort post-invasion it seems to me is not winning hearts and minds of a critical mass of Iraqis.

How can the hearts and minds be influenced to believe we are there with good intent when yanks insult all muslim Iraqis by calling its enemy haji? Seems like a Judaeo(sp?)-Christian invasion. There must be hundreds of arabic slanderous words to use without taking a generic muslim trait (to haj) and turning it into a slur. Making your job easier maybe by simplistically hating them all .. but making america's job almost impossible by alienating decent Iraqis.

Posted by: V. Neal | February 27, 2006 08:22 PM

Name the Enemy? People who coerce us to fight and die for them!

Posted by: Veteran | February 27, 2006 08:23 PM

What I'm getting sick of is people who write "..God bless you and come home safe." What does GOD have to do with ANY of this? Do you think God blesses one side more than the other? I hope God stays outta this. I mean, sincerely...come home safe. Some harmless name calling of the enemy (or potential enemy) is perfectly acceptable, given the situation, in my opinion.

Posted by: tybold | February 27, 2006 08:44 PM

I've been around the military long enough to know your best friend is a " turd " and your Darling Dearest back home is a word you can't even post on a blog. There is way more to life than a politically correct sentence and I'm pretty sure the Iraqi's are already clued into that awareness. However words like brotherhood , courage , compassion and integrity are lived daily in the military life. May they be your companions on this adventure. Course they are also the gift's that will one day turn enemies into friends .. As Always. Thanks again for writing. Keep it up !

Posted by: reverendli | February 28, 2006 03:00 AM

This blog site was not meant for people to hold their personal views on whether they are for or against the War. If they love or hate Pres. Bush. If people of Katrina had been forgotten or not (c'mon man). There are plenty of other sites for that. So, what do you say to taking your undermining statements there? Write all the left-wing anti-war papers you want. They will listen to your rhetoric. I really don't think the majority of people back home like War. It is a nasty business. Remember this...In war people others may freedom. Someone had to die many years ago, so we can be here today as free men. If we want to talk about balance of information, tell the media to start doing stories about our boys that are LIVING over there, not just the ones who died. What we are doing RIGHT over there, not just what is wrong. Name calling is a fact of life...grow a backbone and get over it. This blog was meant to be a connection between our sons, daughter, mothers or fathers that are over there, with the families back home. I think we get enough politics from the nightly news!

Posted by: Pate's Dad | February 28, 2006 08:37 AM


Take your lame conspiracy theories to Cuba for a very long extended vacation. (40-50 years would work) I understand the people who live there hate the US as much as you do, so you will feel quite at home.

Posted by: Dennis | February 28, 2006 08:40 AM

Dear Mr. Guevara,

Please don't use this space to paste in articles. If you want to comment yourself, comment yourself. I understand that you believe this information is so important that it must be seen, but it is an ineffective thing to do.

I too am disgusted by the lying, murderous warmakers who have seized control, but that's not the point.

Posted by: OBSERVER | February 28, 2006 08:58 AM

CHE, these over-wrought, conspiracy theorist tirades undermine the efforts of intelligent progressives who genuinely want to preserve the check-and-balance disposition of our government. We can't be heard over all that hysterial knee-jerk squawkin'.

Flight 93 landed in Cleveland? A missle hit the Pentagon? Did you hear that eating Pop Rocks and Dr. Pepper can kill you too? Easy son. Try the decaf.

And so what if Cheney was knackered. What hunter wouldn't keep the incident quiet, or try to supress that possiblity? We're all righteous, until we get pulled over and have beer breath. Then the pleading and excuses fly, I don't care what color your state is.

I'm no fan of Bush; he's testament to nepotism and incompentence, but painting them with the tiresome "evil" brush does nothing. It simply gives the far-right wackos more fuel for their fundamentalist fire.

The GOP has blown it on healthcare, gov't spending, etc. but they are no more amoral, self-interested or machiavellian than any other political party. Consider the Wal-Mart employee "benefitting" from Clinton's Chinese trade policies.

And I hate to break up the multi-culti cuddle fest, but the truth is, Iraq or not, Haji wants to put the hurt on enlightened Western values, put your girlfirend in a burka after a little genital multilation, and make you grow a beard and wash your feet five times a day -- or else you get an express pass to the afterlife.

I don't care if our Soldiers want to call the enemy Aunt Betsy. If it improves their aim and gives them a healthy disregard from waddling Wahhabists planting IEDs, I say "Hooah!"

Hurry home Guardsmen.

Posted by: Jay F | February 28, 2006 08:59 AM

Pete's Dad said:

This blog site was not meant for people to hold their personal views on whether they are for or against the War.

But then said:

If we want to talk about balance of information, tell the media to start doing stories about our boys that are LIVING over there, not just the ones who died. What we are doing RIGHT over there, not just what is wrong. Name calling is a fact of life...grow a backbone and get over it.

Which is, of course, political. Hey, you want to make a website,, go ahead. But this is on And if people want to add their layer of analysis onto what is being reported, then who are you to shout down their liberties.

Only those without backbones can't handle being challenged.

Posted by: Matthew | February 28, 2006 10:18 AM

I agree with Matthew. I beleive that all have a right to their opinions and to share them on this blog. I also beleive that if one has factual information that would illuminate what is happening in Iraq, that should be shared as well. I am sure Bert will provide much information in the next year. With that said, I would like to provide a copy of a letter from the Iraqi Mayor of Tall Afar to Col H.R. McMaster, CO of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

In the Name of God the Compassionate and Merciful

To the Courageous Men and Women of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, who have changed the city of Tall' Afar from a ghost town, in which terrorists spread death and destruction, to a secure city flourishing with life.

To the lion-hearts who liberated our city from the grasp of terrorists who were beheading men, women and children in the streets for many months.

To those who spread smiles on the faces of our children, and gave us restored hope, through their personal sacrifice and brave fighting, and gave new life to the city after hopelessness darkened our days, and stole our confidence in our ability to reestablish our city.

Our city was the main base of operations for Abu Mousab Al Zarqawi. The city was completely held hostage in the hands of his henchmen. Our schools, governmental services, businesses and offices were closed. Our streets were silent, and no one dared to walk them. Our people were barricaded in their homes out of fear; death awaited them around every corner. Terrorists occupied and controlled the only hospital in the city. Their savagery reached such a level that they stuffed the corpses of children with explosives and tossed them into the streets in order to kill grieving parents attempting to retrieve the bodies of their young. This was the situation of our city until God prepared and delivered unto them the courageous soldiers of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, who liberated this city, ridding it of Zarqawi's followers after harsh fighting, killing many terrorists, and forcing the remaining butchers to flee the city like rats to the surrounding areas, where the bravery of other 3d ACR soldiers in Sinjar, Rabiah, Zumar and Avgani finally destroyed them.

I have met many soldiers of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment; they are not only courageous men and women, but avenging angels sent by The God Himself to fight the evil of terrorism.

The leaders of this Regiment; COL McMaster, COL Armstrong, LTC Hickey, LTC Gibson, and LTC Reilly embody courage, strength, vision and wisdom. Officers and soldiers alike bristle with the confidence and character of knights in a bygone era. The mission they have accomplished, by means of a unique military operation, stands among the finest military feats to date in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and truly deserves to be studied in military science. This military operation was clean, with little collateral damage, despite the ferocity of the enemy. With the skill and precision of surgeons they dealt with the terrorist cancers in the city without causing unnecessary damage.

God bless this brave Regiment; God bless the families who dedicated these brave men and women. From the bottom of our hearts we thank the families. They have given us something we will never forget. To the families of those who have given their holy blood for our land, we all bow to you in reverence and to the souls of your loved ones. Their sacrifice was not in vain. They are not dead, but alive, and their souls hovering around us every second of every minute. They will never be forgotten for giving their precious lives. They have sacrificed that which is most valuable. We see them in the smile of every child, and in every flower growing in this land. Let America, their families, and the world be proud of their sacrifice for humanity and life.

Finally, no matter how much I write or speak about this brave Regiment, I haven't the words to describe the courage of its officers and soldiers. I pray to God to grant happiness and health to these legendary heroes and their brave families.

Mayor of Tall 'Afar, Ninewa, Iraq

Posted by: Dennis | February 28, 2006 10:47 AM


I have changed my mind. Keep writing all about your conspiracy theories. We all need a good laugh from time to time.

Posted by: Dennis | February 28, 2006 10:51 AM

From Snopes Origins: The above-quoted letter from Najim Abdullah Abid Al-Jibouri, mayor of the Iraq city of Tal' Afar, to U.S. General George W. Casey, Jr., commanding general of the Multi-National Force -- Iraq (MNF-I) started hitting our inbox in February 2006. The encomium praises U.S. troops, particularly the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (3rd ACR), for liberating his city from the grips of terrorist followers of Abu Mousab Al Zarqawi.

It is true that such a letter has indeed been circulated to the members and families of the 3rd ACR. However, we haven't yet been able to ascertain whether the letter was actually penned by Mayor Al-Jibouri, and, if so, whether it was truly written of his own volition and accurately reflects his viewpoint. These are not minor issues, as other accounts of supposed expressions of gratitude by Iraqis towards America and the U.S. military have proved to be exaggerations.

Last updated: 25 February 2006

Posted by: jbowen43 | February 28, 2006 11:04 AM

Link to more info about the letter to 3rd ACR

I was in Tall Afar last year, and beleive that this letter, like Col. McMaster, is the real deal.

Posted by: Dennis | February 28, 2006 11:18 AM

as u say, enemies in every war, has differnt names. and anly who fights, declare names.

but the cultural backgrond on this naming is rooted in media acts against enemies, as u say.

i want to say medias start war before u and they make the names as they want and u and yur enemis are victims, together.

Posted by: seyedali.p | February 28, 2006 03:33 PM

I have to wonder how many folks who post information here have friends, family or have personnaly been in Iraq or Afghanistan where our men and women are fighting. I have to guess most of their knowledge of what is going on has been gleaned through the news. Here's a news flash, most of the Iraqi people are thankful that our Armed Forces are in their country. Most families, even members of Saddam's party, have lost family members becasue of his regime. Most are experiencing freedoms have have things such as water and electricity that they never had before. Many Kurdish Arabs have been able to return to their homes now that the threat of ethnic cleansing is coming to a close. US Air Force

Posted by: Denice, US Air Force | February 28, 2006 03:37 PM

Che, Get you own friggin Blog!!! No one is reading your stuff, mainly because it is too damn long! Then again....Our guys are fighting for our freedom, including freedom of speech. Still, get your own blog.

I wonder what the enemy or "Haji" nickname us? "Targets"?

Posted by: Cali-girl | February 28, 2006 03:41 PM

For anyone who spent any time in Vietnam during their civil war (which many Americans still think was a 'foreign' invasion by other Vietnamese, not the United States), you may remember some of the pidgin English terms we and the locals used to communicate. All I could think of while reading CWO Stover's blog was "same same Vietnam." I just hope it doesn't take us as long to come to our senses in Iraq.

Posted by: Judgito | February 28, 2006 06:35 PM


"Most are experiencing freedoms have have things such as water and electricity that they never had before. Many Kurdish Arabs have been able to return to their homes now that the threat of ethnic cleansing is coming to a close."

1) Provision of electricity is down in Iraq since the foreign invasion.

2) Kurds are not Arabs and ethnic cleansing is way up, in fact the country is drowning in blood and fear.

Posted by: an American | March 1, 2006 08:52 AM

Why don't we also be politically correct (PC) and call IED's *Alarm Clocks*? (Because they make such a loud sound)

Bring back The Draft (i.e., National Service) - let The Liberals see how *easy* it is to survive in a war zone with their *good intentions*...

Posted by: Che Che | March 1, 2006 10:30 AM

Che Che, I'm a liberal, I served, and so were a lot of the guys I was with. And I'm female. Go dust off your boots and pick up that ruck, then.

Nothing like invading the wrong country and insulting its citizens. If this soldier clings to his way of thinking--the blogger here---then he's going to do so much damage it'd be better if he stayed home. How, exactly, does one win hearts and minds by being insulting and racist?

Posted by: ginmar | March 1, 2006 10:55 AM


"Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never harm me"

The insurgents are our enemy and I'm sure they have names for us.

Boo Hoo, Haji called me a name...:)

Posted by: JohnBoy | March 1, 2006 01:04 PM

When you hold the uncritical group-think views you do in today's post,I'm deeply ashamed that you can claim the same William and Mary as your alma mater that I can.

I appreciate the stress of fighting an unconventional enemy who is being very effective in inflicting casualties, and I totally support all troops, if not all of the folks who sent you over there. But using a term such as 'haji' just gives the insurgents more reason to hate you and the USA and feel justified in doing whatever it takes to get rid of you.

If finishing your W&M degree was so important to you, at least demonstrate some of the advanced critical and independent thinking skills and values W&M tried to give you. You're giving our alma mater a bad name.

ALl the same, I don't want to hear your name read out at the next Sunset Ceremony. Stay safe.

Posted by: Tribe Pride? | March 2, 2006 04:22 AM

My favorite is the media calling foreign fighters, like the Jordanian born *leader* of the terrorists, *insurgents*. If you're an Iraqi you can be an insurgent, but if you're from Jordan or Iran or Syria or... you are either a terrorist, a foreign fighter or a mercenary.

I'm sure if the media could get away with it they would call the terrorists *freedom fighters*, but that would take more gall than even Mr. Arkin has.

Posted by: Che son one | March 2, 2006 10:32 AM

JohnBoy said:
"Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never harm me"

The insurgents are our enemy and I'm sure they have names for us.

Boo Hoo, Haji called me a name...:)

This is flippancy at its worst. This is not a case of 8-year olds saying, "Jerry Jerry BigNose." This goes to the fundamentals of how you perceive another human being. By creating names and terms and generalizations, you create distance between you and the Other. Not every inhabitant of Iraq is, "The Enemy." These are the people (this explanation around, anyways) that we are there to help. But more importantly, these are PEOPLE. They deserve respect. They deserve to be safe from violence. They deserve consideration. Any eroding of that fundamental idea of human dignity make it easier to harm or degrade them with little or no provocation.

How much easier would things be in Iraq if soldiers had a different name for every person they met, and that name was instead: Mother.

Posted by: Matthew | March 2, 2006 10:41 AM

To "Tribe Pride?": Bert is not giving our alma mater a bad name. W&M (and some of the current student body) is doing a fine job of giving us a bad name - given the national media coverage of the alleged rape controversy (see FOX News).

Everyone, please give Bert a break. At least he is honest enough to talk about it.

Posted by: W&M Grad and Army Vet | March 2, 2006 01:09 PM

After reading this the next time I see a soldier getting his head cut off or killed in any other way I'll know he asked for it!!! Bert I hope you and the other soldiers keep up the good work of antaginizing a country that didn't ask to be invaded and "freed"

Posted by: Screw the soldiers | March 2, 2006 01:27 PM

The use of the word Haji to discribe the Iraqis you are there to help is just plain WRONG! My wife is serving with you there, and if you think it's okay to disrespect an entire race by name calling, you should talk to her. Or ask a chinese person if they like to be called chink or a black man if he likes being called a nigger or a Mexican a wetback. Because that is what you are doing by calling Arabs Haji. Does that make sense whitey? You went to college right, did they teach you anything about tolerence? And if I remember correctly, you should have had a briefing on this subject. So please stop acting like an ignorant redneck and serve the country better than that.

Posted by: Ken | March 2, 2006 03:00 PM

W&M Grad & Army Vet--
News of the current controversy hadn't made it to my part of the country, but I've now found the coverage. Thank you (I think). I see "The Remnant" independent newspaper is still the den of misogynistic crusading idiots it was when it was founded during my years at the College. You're right, Bert is not the only person to ever give W&M a bad name. Hopefully he is more open to considering other points of view than some.

Posted by: Tribe Pride? | March 2, 2006 04:05 PM

When I worked in Egypt for a United Nations agency, we learned to address elderly people as Haji or Haga, as a term of respect for age, whether or not the person appeared rich enough to visit Mecca.

How many soldiers wll be killed and mained because of this gratuitous insult to Muslims?

What a tragedy for America and for Iraq too!

Posted by: Frederick Colbourne | March 2, 2006 11:09 PM

People, people... this guy is a helicopter pilot! He will spend 365 days in Iraq and never meet an Iraqi (except pos. the workers on the base).

Posted by: I Am Che | March 3, 2006 11:14 AM

The question is if he will spend his 365 days reinforcing a stereotype and term that insults and dehumanizes Iraqi citizens and harms America interests or if he will spend his 365 days leading to a better way.

Posted by: Matthew | March 3, 2006 11:26 AM

oh please people, get over yourselves.

We sent our military into Iraq to kill people and break their stuff. Armies have ALWAYS given their enemy demeaning names. ALWAYS.

for my son the marine the Enemy is either Hajis or "the Moooj".

I discussed this with a desert storm veteran friend and she said that they called the enemy "Achmed"

Frankly all this politically correct handwringing is just pathetic. We send people to iraq to kill our enemies and then demand that they speak to them nicely?

can you imagine FDR giving a speach to demand the soldiers stop calling the enemy Nips or krauts because it's demeaning?

How silly can you be.

and in a place where anyone, anyone could be the guy that kills you only a fool wouldn't be suspicious at all times. That, sadly, is part of the underlying tactic of the insurgency.

Recall that nonsense about the Marine shooting the wounded haji in the mosque. The usual suspects got their undies in a bunch about that but most folks, once they understood the situation, sided with the Marine. It's a war and that dead guy won't be lobbing mortars at a FOB someplace, that's certain.

for those with a great need for cultural sensitivity why not head on over to iraq and get started on the reconstruction?
Its not the military's primary role and if you're all concerned that our guys won't get it done right, why do it yourself.

Posted by: skip | March 3, 2006 04:33 PM

Hopefully Mr. Stover will learn a lesson from his own blog and help encourage himself and the other soldiers around him to drop the stereotypical language. Not all GI's enjoy using the same terminology to describe Iraqis and their shops as Mr. Stover. And there are even some who hate the other soldiers who do use it.

Be an officer Mr. Stover and remember that you are supposed to lead and do the right thing. So please try and be an example of excellence, not some Appalachian American who enjoys name calling.

Posted by: Ken Z | March 3, 2006 04:46 PM


Listen you Retarded Numb-Nut Redneck Son of a Bitch. Your mother should have known that stupid people shouldn't breed because they could produce someone as retarded as you. Your father should have punched her in the stomach until you were nothing more than a squirt of blood in a toilet. Rednecks such as yourself should be tied to the tailgate of a pickup truck and escorted along the ground for 20 miles.

But of course, this are just words. They shouldn't make you mad at me. In fact, I say this to all the people I met like you. Freedom of speech right? And I'm not treating you any different than the other retarded numb-nut redneck son of a bitch like yourself.
Words you retard.
They don't mean anything.
Do you understand?

Posted by: Ken Z | March 3, 2006 05:03 PM


Grow up.

We sent our military into Iraq to kill people and break their stuff.

Really? I've never heard that justification. You want to find it somewhere, anywhere, anywhere at all?

and in a place where anyone, anyone could be the guy that kills you only a fool wouldn't be suspicious at all times.

We came to them. They didn't come to us. And the more suspicious we are, the greater the numbers will grow of the insurgency which are, really, just people who don't like Americans. Violently.

Rightly or wrongly, the American military has been placed in the situation of being part reconstructurs, part peacekeepers, and part diplomats. Demeaning the indigenous citizens to make it mentally easier to cope with shooting them accomplishes none of these goals.

Posted by: Matthew | March 3, 2006 05:06 PM

I cannot say that this war is wrong or right. Nor can I say that it is going well or going poorly. Why, I am not there, nor was I there during the descision making. I do recall, however, that the congress, composed of both Democrats and Republicans, authorized the use of force. I also know that Democrats as well as Republicans sit on the intelligence commity that oversaw the ore-war intell. In light of this, it is absurd to say that the President single handedly got us into the mess of Iraq.
If the critics of this war want to lay blame solely on the President for leading us into this war, they might think about blaming the congress. For if the intell was indeed bogus our congress is to blame for being duped so easily or else blame them for being so aloof. One cannot grant permission for the use of force and then totally deny blame when the shit hits the fan.

The blame game that rules politics is BS. If the Kennedys, Kerrys, Gores and Clintons of this world really want to make a difference, quit talking shit about what happened yesterday and show us their leadership skills today. Admitt that they too may have failed their countrymen in the past and make the next step by devising a solid plan for the future. If this happens I would be more than willing to vote for one of them, but if the blame game BS continues, then to hell with all politicians.

Posted by: Alex | March 3, 2006 06:57 PM

Alex said:
I do recall, however, that the congress, composed of both Democrats and Republicans, authorized the use of force. ... In light of this, it is absurd to say that the President single handedly got us into the mess of Iraq.

The state of New York or Rhode Island or whatever may authorize you to drive, but if you go out and get loaded, pop into your car and go 150mph before careening into a semi, don't go around saying it's their fault for giving you the license.

But, on topic, I'm interested what Bert thinks of this reaction to his thread. Because although he may believe he is merely reporting and passing on the actions of others, it is the responsibility of every individual to lead themselves to the virtue in which they believe and thinks is right.

Posted by: Matthew | March 3, 2006 07:51 PM

Authorization of military force is a far cry from issuing a driver's liscense. If you believe that these two issues are on the same level then I beleive it underscores your short sightedness. Quit playing the self-righteous game and realize that it was our govt as a whole that got us into this mess. If your prized Dems are the knights in shinning armour that you belieive they are, maybe they could have done something, anything to stop it. Instead they sat on their hands and did nothing till it was too late, any the only thing they do now is whine like school girls that it is all wrong...give me a break, take some responsibility and be accountable. Elected officals have a larger duty than retrospective analysis, be proactive damn it. I'm not saying Bush is right or that he is a saint, all I'm saying is that the congress, both Republicans and Dems are at fualt too.

Posted by: Matthew | March 4, 2006 07:58 AM

Alex (not me),

Let's be honest here. The AUF was politicized from start to finish, set against the backdrop of burning towers and mushroom clouds, and squeezed for maximum effect in an election cycle. Who are the cynical parties responsible for that? Not Democrats.

For all of the Republican drumbeat of personal autonomy and responsibility, they are awfully reluctant to own up to their war of choice: the choice of George W. Bush.

But I'm sure there's all sorts of places that you can get your fraudulent political arguments shot down: no reason to bring this one off-topic.

And if you want to talk responsibility, at least post under your own name and don't be a coward.

Posted by: Matthew | March 4, 2006 01:07 PM


Please forgive my typo...I wrote that up in a hurry this morning before work and intended to address the blog to you and in my haste put your name in the "posted by" box. I apologize it was an honest mistake not an act of intentful fraudulence. I hope you lose no more sleep over it as I think a full 8 hours per night might decrease your daytime fussiness.

Second, I have never claimed (see prior comments) that this war is just or that Mr. Bush is without wrong doing. What I have stated several times is that for a country to go to war it takes more than just a President's willingness. What many fail to realize is that during the drum beat to war, few politicians had the balls to say "slow down" or even vote against a premature authorization of force. This lack of action on the part of many politicians makes them just as responsible as any one else. The only major oposition occured after it was too late. Therefore it was not only the president that jumped the gun, but everybody else that voted for the authorization of military force.

PS- I still think your analogy comparing issuing driver's liscenses to authorizing any military force is absurd...after all the intent of military force is scare the crap out of the enemy so they give in or to bomb them until they do so. Driver's liscenses, however, are not issued for the intent of killing people or even scaring them into submission. What they are meant to do is make an attempt at keeping poor driver off of the road, at least that is what I learned in driver's ed classes. Please let me know if you can find a quote in a dirver's manual somewhere that proves otherwise.

Posted by: Alex | March 4, 2006 01:59 PM


Responsibility is a zero-sum game. To the extent that is shifted to other actors, it is shifted off of others. That is why it is misleading and disingenous to talk about the responsibility of the Senate in the current situation in Iraq. They were a minor player in the drama, their hands forced by ambiguous language, blood-chilling disaster scenarios, and the political club of, "not caring about national defense" looming over their head. Who created these circumstances? Not Saddam Hussein, but George W. Bush.

Also, if you want to look back, the overall House approval of the Iraq AUF was 296-133 and in the Senate 77-23. The Democratic votes were 81-126 AGAINST and in the Senate 29-21 for. That leaves the Republicans voting 215-7 for in the House and 52-2 for in the Senate. Now whose responsbility is this?

This was a Republican agenda, driven by a Republican president, opposed by the rest of the world, and manipulated to get his way, supported by a Republican-controlled Congress. To say, "Well, I just wish that the Democrats would admit that they made the same mistake" is malarkey. It's trying to coat equal blame for unequal responsibility. This is the bed that the Republicans made for themselves: they should be man enough to sleep in it.

And the driver license analogy is appropriate: it is not the fault of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate that the President of the United States decided to take the U.S. Military out for a joy ride. They did not dictate to him that he had to do so. They did not counsel him to do so. They simply gave him the authority to decide. And he did. May the Lord have mercy on his soul.

Posted by: Matthew | March 4, 2006 03:48 PM

The president can only take out for a joy ride what he if given...for if the senate and congress do not want him to have he shall not have...if the congress and senate were not sure if the President had the best intentions in mind they should not have given....maybe politicians should not worry so much about their public opinion and ignore the "ambiguous language, blood-chilling disaster scenarios" and do what is right. not what will get them re-elected...granted if the Dems voted more favorably against use of force the outcome probably wouldn't have been different...the fact is that a great many were swayed by the propaganda and those who let themselves get fooled have not admitted so...Do we want a president who fools the public? Do we want elected represenatatives who are easily swayed by fear of public opinion?

Matt, the difference between you and I is that you place blame soley on those that you despise...I lay blame on all that had a hand in this, this is not to say that all blame is equal, but all those who voted in favor use of military force are to blame.

The driver's liscence analogy is still lame...goood night and get off your high horse.

Posted by: Alex | March 4, 2006 07:03 PM

No: it is simply that, "spreading blame" creates an apparation that it is somehow equally shared. Which is clearly not the case. There has been too much lost in dialogues the past few years by sweeping things into generalizations and imprecise language. And to shout to high heavens that this is everyone's responsibility muddies the waters.

If you want to say, "I will believe the Democrats when they are willing to accept responsiblity for the minor amount which they were willing to effect, knowing that the vast majority of responsibility lies directly with the White House" than that is an accurate assessment. If you simply say, "This was a failure of all people involved" without any qualifications... well, then, I suppose that you also believe that Harry Whittington was really responsible for walking into Dick Cheney's shot. Or that Ambraham Lincoln was responsible for not moving out of the way of John Wilkes Booth's bullet. Because the blame must be shared. At the end of the day, you can allocate responsibility to every party involved: however, in a meaningful discussion, you have to have a realistical appraisal of each party's underlying culpability. Otherwise, you're simply tarring everyone with the same brush.

And don't say, if the Dems voted differently, the outcome probably wouldn't have been different: the outcome would NOT have been different. This is a past event, not requiring probabilistic scenarios. As was noted when Kerry was talking about filibusturing Alito, the first thing a Senator learns to do in the Senate is learns how to count heads.

If your argument is that do we want these people in office I'll respond, fine. Throw out of office, today, the President, the VP who supported it, and every Senator and Representative who voted for the AUF. Let's see where we get to.

Posted by: Matthew | March 5, 2006 12:13 PM

I beleive that your dire hatred for those with whom you disagree has turned you sour.

Acceptance of some responsibility, even in the most minute fraction, is all I would like to see. Failure to act in a manor to prevent negative action is as bad as taking negative action in the first place.

I understand your hatred for the Bush administration but please never attempt to say that all those who opppose Bush are saints, for corruption and double talk do not know the boundries of party lines.

..."by sweeping things into generalizations and imprecise language...",
"...well, then, I suppose that you also believe that Harry Whittington was really responsible for walking into Dick Cheney's shot." What kind of generalization is this? Your hypocracy knows no bounds.

Posted by: Alex | March 5, 2006 07:06 PM

To respond to the earlier question: "Can you imagine FDR giving a speech to demand the soldiers stop calling the enemy Nips or krauts because it's demeaning?"

No. But at the same time, FDR didn't declare war on countries that posed no threat to American security, then turn around and repeatedly lie to the American public about the reasons for going to war.

And by the way, Roosevelt's kids were in service during wartime. No member of the Bush clan is in uniform today.

And from what I recall of my history lesson, back in FDR's day they announced "Mission Accomplished" after the war was concluded.

Oh, and don't worry about Bert giving W&M a bad name. W&M has plenty of graduates who have genuine accomplishments to boast about.

Posted by: E. Etage | March 6, 2006 11:19 AM

From a 30-year Cold War vet, just retired 2 years back: in Korea, at least on and in the DMZ in 1976 (I was at JSA/PanMunJom) we called the North Koreans "Joes." I don't know if the epithet is still used, but my buddies and I who remain in contact still use it, whithout hesitation.

The article title, "Naming the Enemy" is interesting and has another application. While it was a good thing for us to have deposed Hussein, the actual dangerous enemy to our security is Saudi Arabia. It's a documented fact - the GUYS who planned and pulled off 9/11, who totally hate us and all we stand for, who finance the "insurgents," "AIFs," or whatever else name, but who we must love because of the fabulous wealth our administration top dogs are making from beautiful oil deals with them, especially such families as the Bin Ladens (they could make things so easy by handing the dude over). Too bad our leader can't tell the difference in spelling between "Saudi Arabia" and "Iraq," ethically, politically or philosophically (but he was never known for his letters - and but a minor thing when you're getting such wealth and power off the kowtowing). Naming the Enemy: Saudi Arabia.

Posted by: Mike B. | March 6, 2006 12:03 PM

All of this trash talk against Bert Stover seems a bit odd to me. People making negative comments about situations and contexts with which they have little to no first hand experience. Give the guy a break. I'm sure that flying a helicopter in Iraq was not the first choice on his list of places to spend one year of his life. I agree that maybe Haji is a bit insensitive, but who am I to judge? Only the self-righteous will judge a man without first walking in his shoes.

I can't believe that people actually think that their image will be tainted because they went to college with a military serviceman. William & Mary isn't even that great of a school to start with. Sounds like those W&M grads who are affraid of associating themselves or their alma mater with Bert Stover are a little insecure in the first place. And surely the Iraqis haven't heard of W&M.

Get a grip people!

Posted by: Alex | March 6, 2006 05:26 PM

I agree that people should give Bert a break. Calling host nation citizens names can be a bit insensitive, but it happens. I've done it in many of the places I've been. Should I have done it? No, but at the time it seemed like the thing to do given my maturity level at that time. I'm much older now and hopefully more mature.

I strongly disagree with your comments about William and Mary not being a good school. That comment did not need to make it on this blog and has absolutely no bearing on this issue. As far as I can tell, only one person commented negatively on Bert's association with W&M. I am very proud of Bert, not just because he is a fellow alum but because is an American soldier doing his duty. While this is a trivial argument with you, please check the various college rankings and I think you will find that you are wrong. You made some very intelligent and informed statements in your earlier posts. Please don't ruin that by slinging mud.

Posted by: W&M Grad & Army Vet | March 7, 2006 06:45 AM

I have an idea. Why don't we send our President and Vice President into battle. I bet it would take them no time to either find Osama, Mr. creepy, Mr. Moussoui, or any other ragheads who are trying to KILL all of the good men and women who are trying to keep peace in a very troubling world! Pope John Paul II told our president not to go into Iraq, before he went in. Do you think that maybe he was telling the president something important?

Posted by: NestaCal | March 7, 2006 12:18 PM

W&M Grad & Army Vet,

I apologize, my intent was not to trash W&M. My intent was to shed light on the silly notion that a school's image would not be tarnished by one serviceman's comments or service record in Iraq since a great many people in this world don't even know where or what W&M is. My apology to those offended.

Posted by: Alex | March 7, 2006 04:43 PM

What a bunch of whiney, bleeding heart, perfect, never insulted anyone group of pussies.

Posted by: | March 8, 2006 08:59 AM

To: " "

Did you write that over your recess?

Posted by: Matthew | March 8, 2006 10:10 AM


All those who disagree with you need not necessarily be of lower intelligence or education status. Disagreement between two people simply makes them different. Difference does not imply superiority or inferiority. Please remember this as you respond to another person's opinion. After all, it was you who chatised Mr. Stover about his insenstivity in dealing with those that are different from him. Please do not straddle the fence on the issue of treating peple in a sensitive fashion, it is not becoming of you.

Posted by: Alex | March 8, 2006 02:08 PM

As a retired Hospital Corpsman and Muslim from the U.S Navy, I found your comments in "Naming the enemy" disconcerting. I converted to Islam while stationed at 3rd FSSG Marine Corps Base Camp Kinser in Okinawa, Japan. At our Masjid (plural for Mosque), I made my declaration with the Imam who was a member of the U.S Air Force. Upon his departure, another member of the U.S Air Force who, later made Hajj, assumed the role of Imam. In our Masjid, we had members from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines including an Army 1st Lieutenant as well as several others who had also made Hajj. You comments concerning Muslims who've made Hajj being the enemy sends the message to Muslims throughout the U.S military that our service to this nation is not welcomed.

Thanks for your support Shipmate!

Timothy Stinson

Posted by: Timothy Stinson | March 13, 2006 11:31 PM

Haji was the guy on "I Dream of Jeannie". It has nothing to do with making a trip to Mecca. I grew up in liberal NY calling those guys with turbans "Haji". It was a cool name. I know the term is not used to demean. Somehow the media can call our military grunts and fascist killers, but we use Haji and everyone is horrified. I say let us call them what they are -- murderers.

Posted by: Karen | March 16, 2006 10:53 AM

Petes Dad, In war people die for other peoples freedom. The war in Iraq had nothing to do with freedom in the USA. Hope you no relatives over their dying for no reason.

Posted by: diddy | March 16, 2006 04:00 PM

The really scary part is not the name given, however demeaning. What scares me most is that Bert acknowledges a deep distrust for the people the US, supposedly, wants to help. He also makes it clear that the name given is generic, but no-one knows for sure who the enemy actually is.
I don't see how you can expect to win a war if you're unable to identify the enemy.

Posted by: TinMan | March 17, 2006 08:36 PM

Name calling? I suppose it is, but go for it.

Many (most) others don't understand the lifestyle . . . the emotional roller coaster ride, etc. As a twenty-year Navy veteran, I was never in a combat situation other than locking on to an oil rig in the middle east after being scanned and locked on to first. This was the late 1980's. I did, however, spend many many weeks punching holes in the water and doing laps up and down the Gulf. Point is that our favorite term was "Rag Head." I know it sounds terribly disrespectful . . . and it is. But, its more a means of letting off steam.

People, don't take this stuff so seriously. Perhaps you would better understand if you were there.

Posted by: George | April 10, 2006 03:28 PM

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