Longtime readers of this blog will note that I am somewhat bipolar. The optimism evident in the posting "halfway" has now yielded to its bitter phase - as Iraq always compels.
Nothing I said in "Halfway" was untrue, just that my aquaintance with the SCOPE of the problems in Iraq comes and goes. There are heroes, there are brave and good and decent people, there are morally upright muslims - but they are unto toilet paper floating on the surface in the flushing commode that is Iraq. We pour in more blood, sweat, and treasure - as it swirls down the toilet.
We did not cause this. We removed Saddam Hussein and his odious gangsters. What you see now is the Middle East returning to its natural state - without a benign/malignant Ataturk/Hussein. The concept of freedom is shallow here - owing to their moral dicta providing none. Islam requires absolute submission, everything else is liscense. Freedom of Speech is no more precious or worthy than freedom to drink licquor.
When we sit around in bull sessions and try and figure out what might work - our brilliant, out of the box scenarios quickly yield to observable phenomena on the ground, and the unwelcome knowledge that in one form or another - its already been tried, the rest is style. More specifically and importantly - all our benign/benevolent initiatives have been tried. What does that leave us - is the rhetorical I'll leave you to ponder. (I have my answer)
For proof of what I see on a daily basis that informs my cruel sense of irony - you have the Saddam execution video in which several of the hangmen and other sundry participants are heard to be chanting Moqtatda Al Sadr's name. Ini that video, you have everything you need to understand Iraq in 2007. Its significant for several reasons: I'll highlight two.
ONE - the most obvious - Why are these "professional" agents of the new, democratic government chanting the name of a renegade gangster wanted for the murder of the "moderate" Imam Al Khoei, leader of the largest and most deadly militia in Iraq, (with lakes and ponds of American and Iraqi blood on his hands), government obstructionist, (backdoor insider) and radical, Iranian-backed Shiite fundamentalist?
TWO: Failing that, after we all presume whats in their hearts - why would they shatter that and remove all doubt - in the FULL VIEW OF HISTORY???!!! Why in God's name could they not keep their mouths shut for pretense's sake as they led an old man to his certain death (and I DON'T CARE what he may or may not have said to badger them.)
THREE: (I lied) What level of competance do you think a Governement has that can't strip search the 14-odd participants for their cell-phones and cameras, repeatedly - if necessary, as that was their stated purpose (no cameras).
The answer to one: That is what has been elected. Expect more of it.
The answer to two: Easy emotionality of an unserious people. From guards lounging on duty (who are about to get blown up), to the "Insh'allah" attitude of virtually everybody - Iraqis by and large have the maturity and emotional stamina of a 12 yr. old 6th grader.
"Insha'allah" means whatever Allah wills.
meaning #1 Whatever happened was fore-ordained.
meaning #2 Whatever's about to happen cannot be stopped.
meaning #3 if I still feel like honoring our contract tomorrow afternoon when I wake up - I'll be there.
The answer to three: I call this the "Iraqi touch". Unlike King Midas - whatever they touch does not turn to Gold - it turns into unadulterated SHITE. Expect more, not less - even if we train their police and troops for 2 more decades.
There is absolutely no accountability in this culture, yet everyone has a liscense to complain - including, and especially, those that prolong/foster/aid and abet the problem.
Saddam's unliscensed snuff video was not the only catalyst for this bleat. Just the recurring nightmare one regularly re-awakens into called Real World Iraq. Things are not going to be okay just because we mean well and we're honorable actors, and we're spending more US treasure than we'll ever be able to pump out of the ground at OPEC prices. There will be a new, democratically elected government in Iraq 2 years hence, there is one now. That's the problem.
The larger probelm I've barely even touched on, but its hanging out there. We must decide what the Muslim problem is, decide to see it off, and discover the resolution to see it through. In Islam, the West has found the immovable object to our previously-thought irresistable force. Our blindness is neatly encapsulated in Francis Fukuyama's treatise on the "End of History". I've polled many of my closest friends and confidante's and they do not see it. It tends to seague neatly with a person's religiosity - but not always. If a person tends toward the atheist/agnostic they tend to see the inevitable progress of history and ideas, blinded by the intellectual/secular/humanist conceit that all must yield before reason and rationality given time. If they tend toward Faith, (Christian or Muslim - I don't have any animists, Hindus or Hasidim at hand to poll), they tend to see 10th century stagnation as something entirely more ominous - by several orders of magnitude - as I do.
You, the reader, do NOT have my permission to read anything in this post or blog as defeatist, or with passing indifference to the Beloved, Hallowed Fallen. Nor may you rightly ascribe to me any angst about the justness or rightness of our cause. The cause is not lost, the battle is. The battle for hearts and minds was won 13 centuries ago by my reckoning - it was over before it started in Baghdad in 2003. Naivete' is always retrospective, and there's a helluva'n accounting coming to us. FOR MISTAKES NOT YET EVEN MADE - let alone the good-will wasted these last three years. There are no good guys in Iraq. In any case, NOT ENOUGH.