A new video shot for a London newspaper and the BBC by an embed with the U.S. Army, suggests, in chilling words and images, the absurd position of the U.S. in Iraq, as the people we try to train — you know, our comrades in arms — seem more intent on lobbing grenades at us.

Over the years, I have made few requests of readers of this column, beyond hinting that, maybe, you ought to return here from time to time. But now I have to urge you to drop everything, finish reading this come-on, and then link to the video described below. It’s the most revealing little (eight-minute) video I’ve seen yet on our country’s preposterous position in Iraq.

Aptly, it is titled, “Iraq: The Real Story.” It won’t turn your stomach, in fact, you may even chuckle in spots (like you might have done in reading much of “Catch-22”). But, hopefully, you will end up screaming at the computer screen.

That’s partly because it arrives at such a critical moment, with the death counts for both Americans and Iraqis soaring, and the debate over what to do about this catastrophe reaching a fever pitch, even before the election of a new Congress.

Here’s what you will see (notice, I wrote will, presuming you will, indeed, follow the link below).

Sean Smith, the award-winning photographer for The Guardian in London, who has put in several tours of duty in Iraq (before, during, and after the 2003 invasion), recently embedded with the 101st Airborne, for six weeks. He ended up chronicling attempts by the U.S. Army in the northern Iraqi region around Hawija and Tikrit to hand over duties, or at least work with, Iraqi military and police — you know, helping them stand up so we can stand down. He’s now produced the video, which includes some of his photos, for the Guardian and the BBC.

It opens on a familiar note, as Smith observes that some in the 101st are on their third tour of duty. Many are just counting the days until they “are back in Tennesee.” Then they suddenly are shown in a six-minute firefight with insurgents, but no bodies are found, no prisoners taken, and they may have to wait days for more action. “We do our jobs,” one young soldier says.

Then we watch the unit seize three Iraqis suspected of doing … something. They are “bagged” — literally have bags placed over their heads — and taken away. Another couple locals are caught “redhanded” planting IEDs. So far so good.

But then it turns ugly.

We tag along on “a home visit for the 101st.” They have been tipped off that an alleged gun dealer was hanging with a local family but nothing is found. The angry family say it’s the sixth time they’ve been raided over nothing.


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