In 1943, some American troops were stationed in Iraq. Here is a PDF of a War Department handbook introducing them to the country, and providing some dos and don’ts when interacting with the Iraqi people. Some highlights:
- NEVER discuss religion or politics or women with Moslems.
- Don’t stare at anyone. Remember the fear of the “evil eye”.
- If you see grown men walking hand in hand, ignore it. They are not queer.
- You can usually tell a mosque by its high tower. Keep away from mosques. [Emphasis in the original] If you try to enter one, you will be thrown out, probably with a severe beating.
- Moslems here are divided into two factions something like our division into Catholic and Protestant denominations — so don’t put in your two cents 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.
And then there’s this:
- 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.