The thrashing of Iraq continues. Today is Memorial Day, when America traditionally celebrates the deaths of its military men and women by going to the beach and wearing funereal shades of white and so forth.
Speaking of symbolic dates, I propose a new slogan for the anti-war marchers for the summer season: “Out By September 12th!” A meme I’ve been hearing lately is the plaintive cry, “when will it finally be September 12th already?” Elephant says he despises this idea and that it plays into the White Houses’ propaganda.
I disagree. I think our conception that “9/11 changed everything” lead us to change the wrong things. Or maybe it was our refusal to see that things had already changed before 9/11 in way we hadn’t considered before. At any rate, as I’ve argued here before, we went about applying plenty of 20th century thinking (state-to-state war) to the problems of the 21st (transnational terrorist movements) with little success.
At any rate, September 12th this year happens to fall on the night before Ramadan, which is the holiest month in the Muslim calendar and traditionally a month of heightened insurgent attacks. why don’t we start September 12th 2007 as though we’ve learned something from the last six years?
Missing The Point, Searching Off-Target
The efforts of the Army to locate the three missing soldiers is a perfect example of why the American war effort is doomed.
The U.S. says the search continues for Spc. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, who were taken after the May 12 raid on an outpost in the Mahmoudiya area of Iraq. The attack killed four U.S. soldiers and one Iraqi soldier; the third missing soldier was found dead in the Euphrates River on Wednesday. The Defense Department says hundreds troops in Iraq have been searching non-stop 24-hours a day to find the missing men. The hunt is going on three weeks now, and has resulted in the detention of hundreds of Iraqis. According to reports, about 100 are still in custody.
Would that our soldiers showed the same concern about the people they are supposedly there to protect, the Iraqi people. We’ve already spent millions upon millions of dollars looking for these soldiers. One soldier searching for his lost comrades told Fox News “It’s not about us, it’s about the families.” He vowed to bring the bodies of his colleagues back to the U.S. “alive or dead.”
That’s actually what’s entailed in the Rule of Law; we’re not willing to call in the infantry to search for the killers of a family’s sole breadwinner or a war orphan, but when three of our boys in uniform go missing, every member of the force takes it upon themselves to provide some kind of justice, or at least vengeance.
If we went through the same thing for every missing Iraqi, we’d have something—a police force. But we’re not going to do that, and neither should we have to. As I’ve pointed out before, only a government which is sustained by its own troops and police can be legitimate, and therefore effective.
We’ve ‘wrongfooted‘ the right people, and it’s causing that ‘creative violence’ to be directed against those ‘right’ people who want what we want—democracy and stability. Our CPA and its cronies swindled literally billions of dollars from the Iraqi people. The current government is currently unable to pass an oil law which would make money available to starving hopeless people nationwide, but did make sure that the law includes a Big Oil monopoly on extracting the world’s second-largest reservoir of the best crude on earth. So at least we know their hearts are in the right place.
The insurgents, on the other hand, know that no one is coming to look for them when they die, so they can focus their money and energy into low-cost, high-impact munitions like IEDs.
The only people who would launch a search effort for a missing Iraqi civilian of any kind would the Iraqi police. Our presence makes it impossible to build a real police force, because currently the meagre recruits are being bolstered mostly by insurgent infiltrators. Being an agent of a puppet regime makes you a collaborator, in the eyes of many Iraqis. There’s no way the Iraqi army can actually “stand up” while we make joining in the government an issue of popular loyalty. If the majority of Iraqis want the U.S. to leave, and the can’t get that no matter whom they vote for in the elections, then the government is, in a certain sense, an enemy of the people.
I was talking to a friend today about Iraq and he mentioned that those who were calling for a quick withdrawal were acquiescing to the genocide that will happen once we leave.
“That’s not necessarily genocide,” I said. “Genocide is 1.5 million Iraqis who died during the sanctions.” As for the number of Iraqis civilian casualties because of this war, the Lancet study estimated a range of 400,000 to 900,000. I accept that range as being 95% probable, which is what the authors were saying.
Let’s pretend that the army only spent $10 million dollars on three weeks of round-the-clock search patrols on account of these missing soldiers, just to make the math easier. There’s no reason any government should spend $40-90 billion on police investigations on the nation’s equivalent of an FBI murder division in a country with 26 million people. That’s the equivalent of one policemen making the country’s national median income for every six Iraqis.
Fortunately, if you listen to the Pentagon, Iraqis are positively rushing into the ranks of the police academies:
In the meantime, shortages of capacity within the training regime have actually led to a temporary freeze on police recruiting throughout Iraq, Weighill said, though he characterized the hold as a positive sign. “There’s no shortage of volunteers,” he said. “In fact, we’ve had to… place a three-month moratorium on recruiting simply because we don’t have the capacity and the training establishments at the moment to deal with the numbers that are volunteering to join the police.”
The thing the Defense Department doesn’t like to mention is that Iraqi police stations and training facilities keep getting blown up by insurgent infiltrators, which is another reason for the shortage of available facilities. That and the superior, early ‘Police Academy’ movies have yet to dubbed into Arabic.
Most states are founded by some kind of ‘creative violence.’ Theirs is going to come after we leave no matter when we do, and because we’re crippling their institutions, the longer we stay and destabilize the country, the longer the ensuing period of creative violence will be later on.
Liberalism, at least in the international relations sense of the word, is founded on a sort of paradox; nations supposedly founded on the equality of humankind may then claim just cause to pursue wars in other countries they feel are not their equals. But each government ought belong to the people, no matter whom the people choose, unfortunately. And I say this not just out of principle, but practicality. The people will always ultimately get their way. The people of Iraq and the people of the United States both oppose the American troops’ presence in increasingly equal proportions.
The military is not engineered for this assignment. I’ve been thinking about “force multipliers,” the technological superiority which enables our soldiers to maintain a force presence as though there were 3 or 4 times as many soldiers on the ground. Our modern military is built around these things, like more maneuverable tanks, farther-reaching night vision, deadlier and more accurate weapons and so forth. But what we don’t have are force multipliers that enable our troops to speak Arabic fluently, or enable our troops to instantly distinguish between insurgent and civilian, which are the skills they actually need right now.