Thursday, January 27, 2005

If he votes, we leave


GOTV under occupation:
Soldiers then surrounded a two-story house. The battalion had received reports that it was being used as a meeting place for insurgents.

A paunchy, middle-aged man invited the soldiers to search the house. As they did, the 1st Platoon leader, 2nd Lt. Jason Shick of Grand Rapids, Mich., questioned the man on the second floor.

“Ask him does he know any anti-American forces or anti-coalition forces at all in this area,” Shick told the interpreter. ...

“We don’t have anything to tell you,” the man’s wife said plaintively, in halting English.

The man shook his head no.

Shick checked the man’s name against a list of suspects. Satisfied he was not a terrorist, Shick then tried to lock up his vote.

“Is he going to vote in the upcoming elections?” he asked the interpreter.

“Yes, they are going to go vote,” the interpreter said after consulting with the couple.

“Good. Tell him thank you very much,” said Shick, heading back down the stairs. “And make sure he votes. If he votes, we leave. Americans go home.”
You’ll notice he didn’t ask the wife if she was going to vote, focusing exclusively on the man even after the interpreter said that both would be voting. But what I adore about this little vignette is the utter lack of self-awareness that allows the soldiers to first terrorize and then canvass this couple.

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