Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The Dutch have found a way. 

Note the use of smiles, and the striving for respect for the natives. "We are guests here", one Dutch peacekeeper said.

Instead of armored vehicles, the Dutch drive vehicles that leave them exposed to the people around them. To encourage interaction with local residents, they go bare-headed and are forbidden to wear mirror sunglasses. Making soldiers accessible and vulnerable to their surroundings increases their security, they contend. Making them inaccessible decreases it.
"You would lose contact with the people," said Lt. Col. Kees Matthijssen, the commander of the Dutch force in Iraq. "In fact, the support and the consent of the people is a form of protection. If you have good contact with the people, if it's easy to talk to the people, people always give you some information. You know what's in their minds, what they're thinking, what's worrying them.