Tuesday, August 28, 2007

It's Always The Little Things....

The U.S. military said Monday it regretted any offense it may have caused by giving out a soccer ball with the word Allah written on it as part of a public relations exercise in Afghanistan.

At least one of several balls dropped by helicopter to children in eastern Khost province had a small picture of the Saudi Arabian flag. The flag features in Arabic script the Islamic declaration of faith, which contains the words Allah and the Prophet Muhammad.

Villagers were “upset and angry” when they saw the ball, said Khost Gov. Arsalah Jamal.

“They wanted to demonstrate, but we explained to them it was a mistake,” he said.

Muslims treat with the utmost respect any printed matter containing verses of the Koran or the name of Allah or his prophet on it. Most would find the idea of kicking a ball emblazoned with those two names as deeply offensive.
Serious question, no snark intended: Can we really get a full-blown occupation right if, after six years, we can't even get soccer balls right? Karen Hughes, are you out there?

My favorite part of the story:
Jamal said the U.S. military had told him they bought the balls in a market in Kabul and that they were made in China.
Tainted soccer balls?


Blogger Chaos said...

Seems kind of odd - what is the market for Saudi-flag bearing soccer balls, if Muslims find them offensive? Maybe the army got them cheap after the manufacturer figured out they couldn't shift them...

I really find that bit of the story puzzling.

8/28/2007 8:55 AM  
Blogger Dave S. said...

To answer your question: No.

8/28/2007 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obvious answer: the Army was looking to procure some soccer balls, and these were far and away, and by several orders of magnitude, the most expensive ones they could find. So naturally.....

8/28/2007 10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Chinese soccer manufacturers hired a lobbying firm...some congresscritter got a pocketfull of bills...

8/28/2007 10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

8/28/2007 11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, in this country we slap our flag on everything and think that it's OK. Not only OK, but somehow you're not quite patriotic enough if you don't. (Nothing quite like a gas station with a flag - usually tattered - as big as a football field.) And of course, everyone else in the world wants to be like us, don't they?

Honestly, I'm losing my ability to be stunned by stupidity.

8/28/2007 12:00 PM  
Blogger wendyo said...

Bluestreak, relax your lower jaw so it doesn't hurt so much as it slackens and hits the floor when you watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj3iNxZ8Dww

Maybe instead of flags, we should switch to ubiquitous maps around here.

8/28/2007 12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pardon the long post, hope nobody objects, but bluestreak's comment reminded me how often our own self-anointed patriots abuse the flag they profess to revere, at least based upon the federal code adopted by Congress in 1942; for example, in 2003 George W. Bush signed his autograph on a flag, a clear violation of the code which forbids any writing or printing on the national symbol except as prescribed by congress.

Here are some more examples of the most commonly violated code regulations (really more a matter of do's and don'ts these days):

The flag should normally only be displayed from sunrise to sunset. If displayed at night it should be appropriately illuminated and, unless specifically designed for “all weather” use, should not be left out during inclement weather.

If displayed on a vehicle the flag’s staff should be firmly clamped to the chassis or right fender. The flag should not be flown from an antenna or displayed as a decal on vehicle windows. Even if appropriately mounted the flag should be destroyed if it has become badly worn or tattered (see below for flag disposal protocol); damaged flags are normally only retained or displayed when they represent a point of honor such as a battle.

The flag should never be used as apparel (Ralph Lauren please take note) nor as a part of athletic uniform; exceptions are made for the uniforms of military personnel, firemen, police and specific patriotic organizations granted that honor. The code also specifically forbids using the flag for any advertising purpose whatsoever, no exceptions.

The flag should not be carried flat or horizontally; neither should it be dipped to any thing or person. The flag should not be on the ground even in painted or chalked form where it may be walked upon nor should it be part of common use ware; e.g., flag napkins, paper plates and table cloths are common picnic items on July 4 but all these are violations of the code (wiping your mouth or spilling mustard from your hot dog on the flag are hardly acts of respect).

The code states that a flag should be destroyed only when it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of the United States and that the preferred method is by fire. American Legion posts and local Boy Scout troops often provide disposal of worn flags, burning them with due ceremony, but it is not considered inappropriate for a citizen to burn a damaged flag regardless; note that, contrary to popular myth, a flag that has touched the ground is not considered 'damaged' under the code.

After following wendyo's link and watching poor Ms S. Carolina's inability to say anything sensible about American ignorance WRT their own geography, general ignorance regarding appropriate protocol WRT the US flag seems less surprising though.

8/28/2007 1:16 PM  
Blogger Vercules said...

Those balls were left-overs from the '06 World Cup.

The Chinese manufactured these comemmorative Saudi Footballs in anticipation of Saudi's WC victory!

As comemmorative balls, they weren't meant to be kicked around, but rather placed on the mantle.


8/28/2007 1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

rw, the main problem with the code is that it doesn't allow anyone to make money off the flag.

8/28/2007 2:32 PM  
Blogger wendyo said...

hahahahahahaha...so true Gus.

8/28/2007 2:55 PM  
Blogger Dave S. said...


Good point. That is positively un-American.

8/28/2007 2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gus, (lol) everyone contact their congress-critter immediately! And while your at it, might as well ask them why they aren't supporting our troops by cutting off all funding for White House operations.

8/28/2007 4:03 PM  
Blogger wendyo said...

Maybe we should start putting maps of the US on all our money. ;-)

8/28/2007 8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not like we put GOD on all or any of the soccer balls in the US. What the fuck are those people thinking?

A conspiracy minded person could believe that this is done purposely to engender hatred so that the US can always be under threat.

8/28/2007 11:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the army got them cheap after the manufacturer figured out they couldn't shift them...

No doubt some Republican shithead was in on the contract. Maybe another Junior Achievement Heritage Foundation punk, using all the valuable experience and contacts he picked up during his six-month stint as assistant economic minister or some such...

A conspiracy minded person could believe that this is done purposely to engender hatred so that the US can always be under threat.

Maybe. But the big flaw in contemporary conspiracy theories is, that the Bush gang doesn't have the competence.
-- sglover

8/29/2007 1:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would sure hope this is not some conspiracy concept I rather doubt it.

Just another FXXX-up we seem t good at this.

8/30/2007 8:53 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

WRT "A conspiracy minded person could believe that this is done purposely to engender hatred so that the US can always be under threat."

I happen to be a self-professed conspiracy-minded person, and the way I see it is there is absolutely no need to actually engender hatred on the part of the international community. They simply need to help Americans perceive the threat to keep the alert level high. That is the amazing part about the War on Terror. There will always be new and varied, high intensity threats to pick from in the world. Why extend our fear of Islam and Allah any longer than it needs to be.

Just you watch. It will not be too long before the staunchest opponents to legalized cannabis and other varied herbal pleasures become substantive proponents of the legalization of said products. If we're all decently drugged, we will be fully incapable of asking the hard question a good citizen asks of his or her elected representatives.

hahaha, all this from an also self-professed extreme progressive. Huh.

9/01/2007 11:28 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

"Maybe. But the big flaw in contemporary conspiracy theories is, that the Bush gang doesn't have the competence"

This is the part that worries me the most about America's perception of the president. I am not going to claim that he and his entourage the best and brightest. But I certainly know one thing. They are intelligent enough to know exactly which buttons to push to really screw things up. Or as my boss says at work, with respect to his knowledge of computers, "I know just enough to really screw things up." He may be the worst president we have seen in a while (or ever, for that matter - yet to be seen), but it is very dangerous to start believing that it is because of mere stupidity that we have seen these results.

Keep in mind: executive non-warranted searches of your personal/private telecommunications happens daily (because of the nature of the internet, every message you send travels internationally before reaching its destination), our troops are actually at war in a foreign country (a conflict which our congress approved, based on highly suspect evidence), and your children are likely to learn creationism in class as a scientific principle (even though the idea has yet to be tested, scientifically; which is why kids learn about science in science class and not philosophy or theology). These are all active programs brought about by this administration. I do not think that it can be denied that there is some architecture of ideas and planning underlying all of it. The real question is not how incompetent the administration really is; but rather, whether what they have successfully done with the country is right for the United States. I believe that we are going in severely the wrong direction. I cannot wait to vote in 2008.

9/01/2007 11:48 PM  

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