During World War II, the War and Navy Departments issued "A Short Guide to Iraq," one of a series of pamphlets for American military personnel who were sent to various unfamiliar countries in the Middle East. Some excerpts:
You have been ordered to Iraq (i-RAHK) as part of the worldwide offensive to beat Hitler. . . .
American success or failure in Iraq may well depend on whether the Iraqis (as the people are called) like American soldiers or not. It may not be quite that simple. But then again it could. . . .
Most Americans and Europeans who have gone to Iraq didn't like it at first. Might as well be frank about it. They thought it a harsh, hot, parched, dusty and inhospitable land. But nearly all of these same people changed their minds after a few days or weeks, and largely on account of the Iraqi people they began to meet. So will you.
That tall man in the flowing robe you are going to see soon, with the whiskers and the long hair, is a first-class fighting man. . . . If he is your friend, he can be a staunch and valuable ally. If he should happen to be your enemy -- look out! Remember Lawrence of Arabia? Well, it was with men like these that he wrote history in the First World War.
But you will also find out quickly that the Iraqi is one of the most cheerful and friendly people in the world. Few people you have seen get so much fun out of work and everyday living. If you are willing to go just a little out of your way to understand him, everything will be o.k. . . .
Differences? Sure, there are differences. Differences of costume. Differences of food. Differences of manner and custom and religious beliefs. Different attitudes toward women. Differences galore.
But what of it? You aren't going to Iraq to change the Iraqis. Just the opposite. We are fighting this war to preserve the principle of "live and let live." Maybe that sounded like a lot of words to you at home. Now you have a chance to prove it to yourself and others. If you can, it's going to be a better world to live in for all of us. . . .
It is a good idea in any foreign country to avoid any religious or political discussions. This is even truer in Iraq than most countries, because it happens that here the Moslems themselves are divided into two factions something like our division into Catholic and Protestant denominations -- so don't put in your two cents worth when Iraqis argue about religion. There are also political differences in Iraq that have puzzled diplomats and statesmen. You won't help matters any by getting mixed up in them. . . .
Bargain on prices. Don't let shopkeepers or merchants overcharge you; but be polite.
Be generous with your cigarettes. . . .
And remember that every American soldier is an unofficial ambassador of good will.