Monday, December 18, 2006
America’s biggest failure in Iraq is doing things the American way. And worse we insist the Iraqis also do things the American way. American democracy, American goals, American methods. When one culture conquers a nation of 3 cultures that it does not want to rule forever, you have to make choices that make sense to the conquered. Saddam could make three cultures play together as one nation because he was a ruthless dictator. When the American military smashed that dictatorship it also smashed the means of cohesion. Worse it established itself as the new government, and only later asked the people to elect a democratic Iraqi government, but do it the American way. Democracies require the consent of the governed. Did anyone ask the Iraqis if the wanted one nation under a democratic system? No, we imposed an America way of governing and expected the governed to act as Americans would. Iraqis are not Americans, they are Middle Easterners.
Middle Easterners do no not think, behave or dream like Americans. Their culture is one of families, extended families, tribes, sectarianism, and lastly nations. Religious fundamentalism is very strong, and is weakly controlled by the Persian Gulf secular dictatorships. Turkey, a democracy, is the only exception. And it suffers the sectarian strife similar to Iraq today. Iran and Afghanistan’s history is one of sectarian dictatorships that were recently hijacked by theocrats and warrant special consideration. Middle Eastern societies function, but not anything like the American society. They have a thousand year history of religion, nepotism, bribery, tribal loyalty and inter-tribal and sectarian strife. They have an innate distrust if not outright hatred of infidels.
Newt Gingrich said it well on Meet the Press Sunday when he said, the day the statue fell is the day an interim Iraqi government should have taken charge and been the only voice to the Iraqi people. We failed; Paul Bremer was the voice of authority. The liberation we sought quickly turned into an occupation by Infidels. Worse, peace was in the hands of American soldiers using American methods vice an Iraqi Army that the people understood and could function with. Domestically, we disbanded the army and instantly created 60% unemployment among young men. A recipe for disaster in the strongest country.
OK we did everything wrong in Iraq. What can we do better the next time? Use of American military might destroys the institutions and fabric of the society we crush. If our goal is disruption then nobody can do it better than the American military. If your goal is a moderate American leaning secular government one must realize that the military can't do that by itself. This is an extremely difficult task, and one that the State Dept. and other non-military agencies were totally unprepared to pick up. Why? The military doesn’t question why, they do what the commander in chief orders. But the commander in chief is not a commander to the civilian organizations like the State Dept. He is just another boss. They are entrenched bureaucracies, with their own visions of how things should be. Does anyone believe Bush got the buy-in and support of the bureaucracies before he went into Iraq? Powell’s resignation should have been a red flag.
Can the president accomplish anything in the Middle East with just the military besides kill and destroy? Surprisingly, the answer is yes. Except for Iran the rest of the Middle East oil nations, and they are the only ones that matter strategically to the US, are moderate dictatorships/kingdoms. They all have armies. We have had senior-to-senior contact with these armies of the Middle East for many years. For every general they have we have generals who know their guys on a personal, first name drinking buddy basis. Many are patriots, with loyalties to their country but are not happy with current state of affairs. Some are totally loyal to the current dictator.
Newt Sunday revealed another characteristic about Middle Eastern leaders and diplomats. They lie in private and speak the truth in public. American and the rest of the world are the opposite. They speak the truth in private and lie in public. Wow is that a revelation! How can we exploit the differences? The key lessons learned in Iraq are that military destruction causes chaos and that the commander in chief can only trust the military. A significant handicap or is it? If you think like an American it is, but if you think like a Middle Easterner there are opportunities. There is a great deal of internal tension in the moderate Middle East. Islamism, theocratic leadership is on the rise. Saudi Arabia is the worst case. The government is run by the House of Saud, but the people are controlled by the theocrats. This works because the House of Saud is afraid to crack down on the radicals but rather pays off the theocrats with oil money. This is great for Saudi Arabia but not so great for America. The radicals are now well funded and led, so are perfectly happy to kill Infidels (Americans) rather than their own leaders.
We have learned from the Iraq debacle that American troops are the worlds finest at destroying things, but the Middle East will never accept occupation or rule by infidels. So what can America do? If you do not want to smash the secular nations like Iraq and leave chaos then you have to do things the Middle Eastern way. What is that? Middle Easterners also know that we speak the truth in private. Use the friendship of our generals with their generals to enable a coup. What do we offer? A Middle East solution, lots of money and what ever support they request. Forget the senior staff they are already well bribed, but do not directly control any troops. Who does? The brigade commanders and below. That’s why lots of money. For a coup to work the commander needs to buy the loyalty of his underlings. Promise the brigade commanders it will be their country to do with, as they wish, no strings except one, crush the Islamist radicals. Would they do that? In a heartbeat. The theocrats would be as big a threat to them as they are to the current leaders.
This is a win-win. It is impossible for our military to go into a Middle Eastern country and root out the bad guys and not kill any good guys. As infidels we would get even less support from the public than we are getting in Iraq. The people would hate us; and they are the only ones who know who the radicals and their financial patrons are. But their own military would be accepted by the people and the moderate people would be more than willing to help their own soldiers find the radicals where they would never help infidels. Radicals gone and no American boots on the ground or American casualties. Moderate military, now millionaires and in charge of the oil owing nothing to anyone once the rid the place of radicals.
But Liberty or Death their military would not coup their leaders. Stop thinking like an American; think like a Middle Easterner. Is their loyalty to the current dictator? No. What about their oath to the constitution? What constitution? Their loyalties are family, extended family, personal friendships, tribe and sect then country and dictator.
Fact of life, any military solution will involve massive civilian casualties. Why? It is not the armies but the people of the Middle East countries that are our enemy. If we don’t kill a lot of civilians we fail. But the panty wetting American public and drive by media would never accept this. So lets get the Middle Easterners to solve our problem for us. But we need to move quickly, before the whole Middle East is a theocracy.
Liberty or Death