Tuesday, September 12, 2006

U.S. Influence in Iraq

I think one of the great mistakes of this administration is its manichean ways of dividing the world into two camps. The fact of the matter is, every person, militant group, tribe, or nation has its own will and specific agenda. In Iraq, there are 27 million people. There are 150,000 U.S. troops, and only a fraction of this number actually goes outside the gate on any given day to exercise U.S. influence, say 30,000 (a generous figure). That's 30,000 Americans trying to move the destiny of 27 million people with their own thoughts, dreams, vices, and aspirations. Frankly, it is not enough to make a difference, not by a long shot.

The President and his administration speak of a need to have "will," like some sort of Nitzchean mantra that sheer desire and gumption will turn Iraq into a democratic, capitalist haven. But the Iraqis themselves have plenty of will, and there are a lot more of them willing their reality. As long as gangs rule unchecked, be they religious militas, Bathaists thugs dreaming of former glory, Al-Queda inspired terrorits, or just plain kidnapping criminals, it is their will that rules the daily life in Iraq. We have been unable to change that simple fact for three years. We have been unable to acknowledge that there are other wills than ours. We can act, but they can act back, and they have been, for the last three years.

The influence of triabl roots and religious ties runs much deeper in Iraq than the ideals of Locke or Montisque. Those ideals don't even run deep in many parts of America. A "democracy" that seems to put religious death squads in charge of the police will not get much love in a country, nor will it get trust, nor will it get effectiveness. We cannot run every facet of Iraq, nor have we tried. It is the Iraqi people themselves that will control how power is distributed throughout the Iraqi society. Until this basic fact is recognized, our policy will remain a shambles.

The Iraq government will live if the people of Iraq want it to live. It will die if enough of them don't. Since neither Shia, Kurd, or Sunni is particularly happy with the way things are, it will likely die. It will turn into something. Maybe even have several years of ugly civil war around Baghdad. But in the end, it is the people in the cities and towns of Iraq that will determine the face of the country.

There is only one struggle of wills we should be concerened with: that of terrorists who want to strike Americans and America. And while there are quite a few that want to hurt American and Americans in Iraq right now, part of that is because they view us as occupiers. No amount of our "will" or "resolve" will change that basic fact. If we aren't around, it would likely make many of those simply hate us, but no longer actively try to kill us. More importantly, we don't have the local skills, knowledge, or support in Iraq to actually find these people who want to kill us and eliminate them all. We just present ourselves as an easier target.

Naturally, we must continue to disrupt Al Queda terrorists bent on killing others wherever they go. The Al-Queda types want to kill any Muslim they see as heretic, westerners, and Americans. It is easy to find allies in this fight. I'm sure there are even plenty of Iraqis who would join the fight against those who bring car bombs to their cities and towns.

We should exercise our influence where it will make a differnece. Our national will and resolve should not be pissed away trying to establish a Western style democracy in the midst of an Iraqi civil war. Besides, if we leave Iraq, it will not fall to Osama (see previous post). Our will should be focused on Al-Queda.

No comments: