Thursday, November 04, 2010
The Hope for Democracy in Iraq
The status of Iraq was brought up today in class while comparing the successes of countries that the United States has waged war with like Germany and Japan. Although there is a measure of uncertainty to how the whole situation will end up, there are a few things that could tell us how this one is gonna go.
When the US military rolled through the sandbox in March of 2003 on their way to Baghdad, they showed extreme capacity for violence. Not only did the Iraqis know we had the capacity but we showed that we had the willingness by turning all opposing factions of the country into a "parking lot" as so amazingly stated today in class. As soon as all the true fighting died down and news reporters started to file in to get their juicy TV coverage the brutality required to keep a histile crowd in check had to be scaled down. Instead of being allowed to act as they should have, our soldiers were handcuffed by all these rules made by politicians in DC. The US military then became a group with a large capacity for violence, but with very little willingness. Any wrong move could hav put a young PFC in a court martial, opened an article 15, or even worse, on Kitchen Patrol (KP). At this time the roving bandits saw this and realized that they had a chance to take something from the situation so that is when the "insurgency" began.
Someone said something interesting in class today that got me going. They said that people all respond to the same incentives. This is 100% false. People at different age groups in the same culture respond differently to incentives, much less a completely different culture. What incentive does the US military have in Iraq because they know they will not be there forever? So in essence the US is a roving bandit along with all other warlords/druglords/political leaders. The culture is completely different, which changes how they react to incentives. There is not separation of church and state, with the church practically ruling everything. Just as the United States is not used to dictatorship, the Iraqis are not used to freedom. Imagine the upheaval if the US tried erasing 225 years of democracy and turned to dictatorship tomorrow. The US citizens wouldn't want that, and would definitely have a hard time adjusting. Now imagine a region that has been accustomed to having dictatorships for thousands of years (the Middle East) suddenly switching to democracy. Another thing that I didn't want to bring up in class was the teachings of Islam affecting the people's desire for freedom. Freedom and liberty may not be as welcomed in an Islamic country because all the freedoms could be seen as distractions from oneness with Allah. This is confusing for many western minds, but anything that gets in the way of being in one with Allah is looked down upon, hence the complete covering of women in public.
These are just some thoughts on our discussion in class today. Just keep in mind that many citizens in Iraq do not want us there. Even though we are dumping money, resources, and lives into the rebuilding they can still hate the US. Everything is not inherently good or motivated by normal incentives. Let me know what you guys think.