As I was testing the beer yesterday at a Rockville, Maryland, Memorial weekend event, my eye was caught by a t-shirt with the following bilingual motto:

The black t-shirt was worn by a late 20-something with a military-style haircut. He was accompanied by his wife who was pushing baby stroller. I ambled around to get in front of the guy – his shirt had some type of unit logo but it was obscured by the baby he was holding up against him. Unfortunately, I did not have the ol’ Nikon D-40 hanging around my neck.

This “100 meters” warning sign was commonplace for U.S military vehicles in Iraq. I glanced at a few photos of such vehicles online and I wondered how close a person would need to be to read such lettering. Probably far closer to 100 meters.

But since the vehicles had the warning notice, any resulting killings of civilians were justified – because the victims should have known.

Shootings of innocent Iraqis at U.S. checkpoints and near U.S. vehicles were so commonplace that the military usually ignored the carnage. U.S. checkpoints were often poorly marked – turning them into death traps for unwary Iraqis. Here is one of the most iconic photos of the Iraq war, depicting five-year-old Samar Hassan wailing after U.S. troops killed her parents at a checkpoint in Tal Afar in 2005.


Author Chris Hedges noted, “Troops, when they battle insurgent forces, as in Iraq, or Gaza or Vietnam, are placed in ‘atrocity-producing situations.’” Placing U.S. troops in hostile foreign venues with almost-impossible missions that practically guarantee that innocent people will be gunned down.

But congressmen ignored the carnage they helped spawn because they never ran into one of the “100 meters… or we’ll shoot” warning signs on Capitol Hill.

When I see Iraq vets proudly wearing the “100 meters… or be shot” slogan on their shirt or car, I can’t help wonder: Was this the guy who made Samar Hassan an orphan?

FWIW – Here’s a link to an essay I wrote last Memorial Day.

On Twitter @jimbovard
James Bovard



  1. Eric Meiers May 28, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    we are so ignorant of the things done in our name that this nugget of truth will not get bigger signs.

  2. NortonSmitty May 28, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    I hope that you are missing the satirical point of this shirt. I saw one and asked the wearer and it was not worn to indicate pride to him.

  3. Jim May 28, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    Was the motto on the back of the tanks also satirical?

  4. Jasper May 28, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    That is true Norton, easy to miss on first inspection. No way most people will be able to read that from a 100 meters away.

  5. Bruce May 28, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    For ALL the 1% and their hired ASSASSINS, KEEP IN!

  6. Tory II, Illinois May 29, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    George W Bush (buffoon). I’m not free to say what I feel about one of our politicians.

  7. Roger May 29, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

    Clearly you don’t live in a town where there is either a military base,or a lot of newly returned veterans.Such shirts,and even bumper stickers are pretty common around here (Albuquerque).

    Here’s one I found in the first couple of Google results.

    You can also buy several versions that say veteran,or “Support Our Troops” in addition to this lovely message.

  8. Jim May 29, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    Thanks, Roger.

    The pitch for that t-shirt inluded the following: “Make Hajji’s nervous Desert Tactical shirt!”

  9. TOM PAYNE May 29, 2012 at 8:47 pm #


  10. Deryle May 30, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    Good Post.
    Jim, Maybe I’m not looking hard enough as I’ve never seen one of these t’s in my part of the ‘Burque.But I stil have to listen to Kirkland AFB noise at all hours.
    I do see remnants of “Jet Noise–The Sound of Freedom” bumperstickers all around.
    Good to know how I got all my liberties.

    Now, that’s sarcasm..

  11. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit May 30, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    It reads better in the original German. 😀

  12. Rick September 23, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    Clearly the person that wrote this, as well as the commenters, never spent 1 day in Iraq, let alone 6-7 years. You do not know or understand what you are talking about, and to anyone that was there you seem very naive and undeserving of the liberty which allows you to post these remarks. Sad, really.

  13. Matt September 13, 2013 at 1:37 am #

    Tell me something, how would you like it if you were with your squad manning a checkpoint, and a vehicle comes within 100 meters carrying a vehicle born explosive device (VBED). Suddenly most your team is ripped apart as you see your buddies dieing around you. Tell me, would you be in a tough situation the next time the driver of a car didn’t head to the written warnings about staying 100 meters away. Be the first in war before you talk!


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