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Monday 17th March

A V-shaped rumminess dangled over Baghdad. The muezzin called the faithful to prayer with all the subtlety of a dentist's drill. We groaned, rolled over and went back to sleep. A bit later we woke to an air-raid siren blaring Dick Vitale's cheerfully idiotic voice: "Gear up, baby! Gear up, baby! Gear up, baby! ..." and we rolled off our bunks and pulled on Mephisto boots and lemon-yellow Yves Saint Laurent jumpsuits with dashing white Hermes scarves to jaunty up the neck area. Love that Dickie V! Due to limited pret-a-porter supplies, however, some of the men are forced to wear lederhosen. We flounced into the mess tents and gobbled up strudel and croissants stuffed with caviar, all topped with a heavy cream sauce. Blessed be Allah! We salute your endorsement of peace in all its forms, O Heavenly Father, with a firing of our rifles into the air! Huzzah!

Only six died today as a result of falling bullets. Allah the merciful be praised! Where do these infernal bullets come from? All fingers point, per usual, at the Great Satan. Ptoo! Ptoo! We HATES the Great Satan!

This morning we were visited by Great Commander Hussein, who reviewed our formations with a look of haughty disdain. A few hours later, we were visited by a look-alike of the Great Commander, who seemed well pleased with our parading. Unless it was the Great Commander himself. This one had a slightly bushier mustache, so ... ? After a smashing lunch of bratwurst and schnapps, we were visited by yet another version of our Exalted Leader, who appeared indifferent to our marching and wondered aloud, in a bored sort of way, where the local whorehouse might be. Feeling among the cognoscenti was that here, at last, was our man. After he jotted down directions, he fired a celebratory shot from a borrowed rifle into the air and the Great Satan took another man's life a minute or so later as he stood at attention, seemingly chosen at random. How does Bush DO that?

Every day we train at the same things, over and over. It really does boil down to training. A whole cadre of loaned French officers have us trot through an obstacle course comprising various sorts of human cut-outs popping up at us from behind dunes. Infantrymen, ice cream men, tax auditors, lieutenant colonels, and so on. If we surrender to someone too lowly on the surrender chain, we miss out on evening crepes. We've been practicing surrendering now for years, and we're quite good at it. But the French are pushing us to something resembling perfection. We want the world to know that we've absorbed the lessons of the past. In the last war we disgraced our leader and our country by surrendering to CNN crews, trash haulers, lost Jehovah's Witnesses, and Bedouin Mary Kay representatives. This time, when we've had our fill of being beaten into submission by drone bombers, we shall insist on surrendering to no less a personage than Dennis Miller. We tremble at what sort of sub-referencing that mighty man might bring to such an occasion.

This evening we watched a training film about U.S. genetic/military breakthroughs called Eight Legged Freaks. Isikiel, the fellow sitting next to me, whispered that he would consider it a signal honor to be able to surrender to someone as exalted as David Arquette, who fought the enormous spiders with the courage of at least one-and-a-half Iraqis. I told Isikiel that I thought it an unlikely prospect at best and he responded by dabbing at the corners of his eyes with his scarf and sighing like a camel with a secret sorrow. Idiot! Doesn't he know that it's made of silk? In bed right before lights-out. I miss my Human Shield blanket, a comely Icelandic girl who cared only for my safety by draping herself over me nightly until last week, when a nameless dread overtook her and she skipped off. Inge Gottfredsdottir, please recall that when I asked you to name our son after the poet, that it's spelled "Rumi" and not "Rummy."

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