Norimitsu Onishi | Samawa, Iraq | October 25
NYT – In a neighborhood without lights, its pockmarked dirt streets and open sewers faintly visible under the full moon, the Dutch soldiers began a foot patrol on a recent evening. After getting out of their soft-top vehicles, the soldiers entered a street, wearing no helmets and pointing their guns down, chatting with Iraqis clustered in front of their homes.
Part neighborhood police officers, part social workers, the soldiers managed to practice in Iraq what the Netherlands has come to call the Dutch approach to patrolling. Scarred by national shame over the Dutch peacekeepers who proved powerless to stop Bosnian Serbs from rolling into the UN enclave of Srebrenica in 1995 and killing thousands of Muslims, the Dutch have nonetheless managed to keep a soft touch, honed in Afghanistan and now on display in this small town on the Euphrates.