Potemkinskaya Derevnya, aka Potemkin Village

I wanted to highlight a few articles which kind of have a thread running through them. Via Carpetbagger Report, I came across an article from the Washington Post which used the title term in reference to a market in Iraq which is, as a true Potemkinskaya Derevnya (I don’t get to show off my russian very often), just a show piece. The article points out

The U.S. military hands out $2,500 grants to shop owners to open or improve their businesses. The military has fixed windows and doors and even helped rebuild shops that had burned down, soldiers and others said…
Some shopkeepers said they would not do business in the market without U.S. support. “The Americans are giving money, so they’re opening up stores,” said Falah Hassan Fadhil, 27, who sells cosmetics.
1st Lt. Jose Molina, who is in charge of monitoring and disbursing the grant money, said the U.S. military includes barely operating stores in its tally. “Although they sell dust, they are open for business,” said Molina, 35, from Dallas. “They intend to sell goods or they may just have a handful of goods. But they are still counted.”

Carpetbagger Report notes that before the war this market had 850 shops and now it has 349 (based on the dubious counting referenced above).

Then there’s another article, not about the market, but about another kind of Potemkinskaya Derevnya, the dog and pony show. Carpetbagger links to the video of Wolf Blitzer calling a Republican congressman on his talking points of evidence of how the surge is working. The congressman cites the fact that he could walk down the street in Fallujah, but Wolf points out that he did it with a “platoon of Marines” and “a platoon of Marines is a lot of Marines.” Just so you know, here’s what a platoon of Marines looks like:

In the United States Marine Corps, platoons are commanded by a platoon commander, usually Second Lieutenant,even though the position is intended for a First Lieutenant. The billet of Platoon Sergeant is a position intended for a Gunnery Sergeant, but it is often is held by a Marine ranking from Corporal to Gunnery Sergeant. In Marine infantry units, referred to as regiments, rifle platoons usually consist of three rifle squads of 13 men each, usually lead by a Sergeant or Corporal, with a Navy corpsman, a Platoon Commander, and a Platoon Sergeant. Each squad is further divided into 3 fireteams. Each fireteam consist of 4 marines lead by a fireteam leader, usually a Corporal or Lance Corporal. Each fireteam consists of a rifleman with M16A4, fireteam leader with M16A4 and M203 grenade launcher attachment, an automatic rifleman with a M249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon), and an assistant automatic rifleman that carries a M16A4 and the extra barrels and ammo drums for the automatic rifleman. A weapons platoon replaces the 3 squads with a 60 mm mortar section, an assault section, and a medium machine gun section (using M240G 7.62 mm machine guns).

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