Gadgetry, in particular, proliferates among the 138,000 troops stationed in Iraq: laptop computers, MP3 and DVD players, digital cameras, televisions and video game consoles. On bases in greater Baghdad, many soldiers have cellphones and some have satellite dishes that pull in scores of stations. Personal DVD collections numbering several hundred are not uncommon; the legendary ones top 1,000.
Never in the field of human conflict has so much stuff been acquired by so many soldiers in so little time.
One Louisiana National Guardsman stationed on Camp Liberty converted his trailer into a recording studio, and a New York National Guardsman living nearby has spent some of his free time during the last year producing a record by a singer in New York using an electric keyboard, sequencer, laptop computer, sampler, drum machine and mixer in his room; he and the singer use sound files sent via the Internet to exchange musical ideas and recorded tracks.
The US Postal Service ships from the states to US soldiers in Iraq at US domestic rates. So the soldiers can order stuff off of US web stores and get it shipped cheaply. They have 42 inch plasma TVs and plenty of other gadgets.
The bazaar is a collection of shops owned by local Iraqis that cater to the eclectic tastes of soldiers, civilian contractors and journalists looking to unload a few greenbacks. In some cases, lots of greenbacks.
Saddam Hussein collectibles include ashtrays, gold-flecked china and paper money with the former dictator’s mustachioed mug on the front. Prices range from 50 cents for old Iraqi dinars — now the Middle East equivalent of Confederate dollars— to $700 for a set of gold-plated Saddam dishes.
Check out pictures of the Camp Liberty bazaar.
Some Iraqis working for Americans at Camp Liberty proudly display pictures of Saddam Hussein in their mobile phones. While they think he was a good leader they also like working with the U.S. as it is sometimes the only source of income for an entire family and many would like the forces to stay for security.
Many of the soldiers I defend are based throughout the greater Baghdad region. I often have to schedule rides on Blackhawk helicopters to outlying bases in order to meet with my clients. More frequently, either the soldier or I must convoy through the city in order to simply meet and discuss a case. Being on the city streets, you simply cannot know if the next Humvee hit by a rocket, roadside bomb or hand grenade dropped from a bridge will be yours. Every time I step outside the gates of relatively safe Camp Liberty, I bring along six or seven magazines fully loaded with ammunition. Sometimes it's difficult for me to comprehend that a whole team of soldiers must convoy across the city simply so one soldier can seek my legal advice. Quite often, the soldier driving us is barely 19 and the one protecting us from behind the .50-caliber machine gun isn't any older. All of this is to make sure that criminal justice functions.
Most of Brown's cases are for drug or alcohol violations. Does Brown make dangerous trips across Baghdad with convoys of soldiers so he can meet with a soldier about the soldier getting caught with a whiskey bottle? I mean, is the US military that dumb? Probably.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2005 August 15 12:14 AM Mideast Iraq|