I was a 19 year old Iranian when I was drafted to the Iran/Iraq War back in 1983, one of the bloodiest Wars of the 20th Century. Incidentally, the entire world, the former US defense secretary Rumsfeld and his boss, Reagan were supporting Saddam at the time:
A few days prior to one of our major strategic moves, about 200 Iranian soldiers, myself included, were rounded up to listen to an “inspirational speech” from a Mullah and two of his non clerical lieutenants. They were preparing us not to fear death.
The Mullah and his lieutenants started telling us about the heaven, the awesome time we will be having with seventy two virgins, and how desperately the virgins are looking forward to meet us up there. As a typical man, it got me excited first, you know. The thought of 72 chicks but the excitement lasted only a few seconds. The though of death, the thought of not seeing my fat mamma, my baby sisters, and fathers anymore, by far were more powerful than anything else. Maybe, if the Mullah had said sex with thousand women, it would have been different story But, 72! NO SIR! not enough to die for.
Saeed, the guy sitting right in the middle with the mustache, one of my very good friends made a joke about the virgins as the Mullah was still yapping. He said “wait a sec! but, I want to have sex down here on earth, not up there!”. Although, we were scared young soldiers with the thought of possibly getting killed in a few days, Saeed, me, and five other guys were literally hysterical about the situation. We laughed our pants off. But, this wasn’t a joking matter to them. So, all seven of us were yanked out of the unit and sent to the Army prison for a week because of the laughter. The punishment wasn’t really a week of going to prison, the thing is for every week of going to prison during the service, the Army added one additional month on top of our standard two years. Once released; sadly, we found out 125 other soldiers in the units were killed in the attack.
Neither I nor any of my other six friends would have fallen for the sex with seventy two virgins crap anyway, but the joke totally made one of the lieutenant and most of the surviving soldiers in our units rethink our motivations. We all continued talking and laughing about it for a few months. I am certain the lieutenant who was an ideologically changed man with fresh ideology was able to influence others in the system as well. I never saw him again. If he is still alive and reads this, I wish him well. As for my friend who made the joke, regretfully, he lost his life 3 months later in another attack – in fact a chemical attack, (the materials were given to Saddam Hussein by the US Government, and I think the Germans, to be more specific, the Dow Chemical Company).
About 2 million people including my very close cousin who was an army parashooter were killed during the 8 year war (1980-1988):
Curious as to what this personal story has anything to do with current U.S. State Department initiatives and diplomacy?