HUMINT: Bending Identity

HUMINT: Democratization is about bending Identity. This work refers specifically to US and Coalition democratization efforts in Iraq and the Middle East in general. As liberators, Americans can only provide the conditions by which liberty can grow and eventually thrive. One articulation of what is occurring across the region may be that Americans have demonstrated they can "bend" the political environment of the Middle East but cannot directly bend the identity of Middle Easterners. If social change is introduced externally it is reasonable to assume that any changes of the individual identities of Middle Easterners will lag behind that change. Instances of terrorism and despotism from the newly liberated is of little consequence to the democratization process as long as the political environment is sustained until the guarantee of individual liberty becomes the socio-political norm. If the democratic environment is not sustained, their pre-liberation identity will be reinforced and therefore validated.

HUMINT: The election of members of the terrorist organization Hamas to seats of power in the Palestinian territories, and members of the terrorist organization Hezbullah in Lebanon were setbacks in terms of bending the identities Palestinian and Lebanese citizens toward democracy but it was a step forward with respect to a democratic political environment in which they live. One day democratic tendencies will be the norm across the region. The transitional phase is a toll that must be paid before sustainable peace can be achieved.

HUMINT: To be sure, the Middle East is a culturally heterogeneous environment whose parts have little to do with the political boundaries familiar on maps. Oddly, the nationalism that does exist in the Middle East is often the product of brutal dictatorships. Saddam, through the commission of atrocities, forced Iraq to behave as a nation of Iraqis. As democracy strengthens there, a peaceful political process will replace the iron fist as the force that holds Iraq together. But what of the elements that are ripping Iraq apart?

HUMINT: It is absolutely astonishing that the sign carying, uniform wearing representatives of militias in Iraq are not considered targets for Coalition Forces in this war. Ralph Peters makes a valid point in his essay, Kill Muqtada. If the elected officials of Iraq make choices that drive the country away from democracy and peace they have to pay for their transgression with their lives. If these traitors to the new Iraq are not targeted, then the entire exercise has been a costly mistake. The power vacuum will be filled by the most vile enemies of the United States and from their Iraqi safe havens they will be able to sustain strikes against American interests around the world.

HUMINT: So is the answer to build big walls around our troops in the deserts of Iraq and let the militias slaughter freshly trained Iraqi police? I don't think so. In my opinion, the opposite needs to occur. Coalition forces should be as integrated with the Iraqi people as they reasonably can be. The Iraqi people are the coalition's best ally and to separate them from coalition forces could have terrible repercussions for sustainable democracy in Iraq.

HUMINT: With the introduction of available command and control communications technologies, primarily to prevent friendly fire, US troops might consider dropping their uniforms (not body armor) in favor of Iraqi attire. In uniform and on patrol, coalition forces are regularly subjected to ambush tactics. It is conceivable that undercover US troops might be able to instead, ambush insurgents.

HUMINT: Civil society is not only possible in the Middle East, it is probable. Islam is not an obstacle but fascist interpretations of it are. The individuals who hold an anti-democratic interpretation of Islam should be considered prime targets. In the case of Muqtada Alsadr and the Mehdi Army, obstacles to democratization have presented themselves time and time again but each time, the obstacle is confronted without being removed. The behavior is more like police craft than war craft and is ultimately self defeating.

HUMINT: Tactically speaking the US should revisit the practice of castle warfare (people and troops inside the walls) and begin facing off with their enemies in Iraq as though they themselves were an indigenous tribe. It will take two steps backward to take three steps forward. For coalition forces to seriously consider bending the identity of Iraq toward democracy, we are going to have to have some flexibility of our own - temporarily anyway.


Update on Iraq

Ambassador David Satterfield, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State and Coordinator for Iraq - October 26, 2006

[EXCERPT] AMBASSADOR SATTERFIELD: Your first question, yes, we do strongly support Prime Minister Maliki and his national unity government. We look to that government; we look to Prime Minister Maliki, as the President made clear yesterday, to lead. We understand fully the very difficult circumstances that attain in Iraq today and we understand fully just how difficult the decisions are which the Iraqi leadership, which the Iraqi Government has to take. Difficult decisions on security, difficult decisions on political reconciliation, but these are critical decisions and they must in fact be confronted. They must be decided. Now, these decisions are all for the Iraqi Government, the sovereign Iraqi Government to make. We respect their sovereignty as the President made clear. But they're decisions that cannot be deferred without cost to the Iraqi people and the interest of a stable peaceful democratic Iraq.

Our role as the United States, our role as a lead member of the coalition, is to support the Iraqi government, support that Government's security forces to ensure that they have all of the tools that we can help provide for them to lead their country forward. But the decisions on the future of Iraq, on the political process, on security must be taken ultimately by Iraqis themselves. We do look to Prime Minister Maliki to take these decisions. We do have confidence in his leadership.

On the issue of the Mecca declaration, we think that the gathering together in Mecca under OIC sponsorship was an extremely important step. And we are very appreciative both to Saudi Government officials and to the Organization of the Islamic Conference leadership for helping make this possible. It's important that as many messages of reconciliation as possible be sent to the Iraqi people; that it be made as clear as possible that there is no legitimate violence against innocent Iraqis; that there is no excuse or justification for the killings of innocents, no matter from what source. And this was an important step in that process and we see it as a part of process, both on the political and on the religious side of addressing the question of how do you get to a peaceful Iraq. How do you bring sectarian violence to an end? How do you bring about ultimately an end to the presence of armed groups, militias, armed gangs that are responsible for so much of this violence?

Civil Society in the Middle East v.2

By Augustus Richard (EDT) Norton -
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1993 [EXCERPT]

Islam and democracy: Survey shows what Iraqis want

By Diane Swanbrow - News Service - January 2006

[EXCERPT] More than three-quarters of Iraqis support a democratic political system, but they are divided on the role Islam should play in their country's government, according to a U-M study. The research shows 51 percent favor a strong link between government and religion and 49 percent prefer a secular political system. The findings, published in the January 2006 issue of the Journal of Democracy, are based on a survey of a representative area probability sample of 2,325 Iraqis conducted in November and December 2004 with funding from the National Science Foundation. The survey was carried out in collaboration with the Baghdad-based Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies.

Kill Muqtada

by Ralph Peters - Heritage Foundation - October 27, 2006

[EXCERPT] Our soldiers and Marines are dying to protect a government whose members are scrambling to ally themselves with sectarian militias and insurgent factions. President Bush needs to face reality. The Maliki government is a failure. There's still a chance, if a slight one, that we can achieve a few of our goals in Iraq - if we let our troops make war, not love. But if our own leaders are unwilling to fight, it's time to leave and let Iraqis fight each other.

In Iraq, Stay the Course - but Change It

by Daniel Pipes - New York Sun - October 24, 2006

[EXCERPT] My solution splits the difference, "Stay the course – but change the course." I suggest pulling coalition forces out of the inhabited areas of Iraq and redeploying them to the desert. This way, the troops remain indefinitely in Iraq, but remote from the urban carnage. It permits the American-led troops to carry out essential tasks (protecting borders, keeping the oil and gas flowing, ensuring that no Saddam-like monster takes power) while ending their non-essential work (maintaining street-level order, guarding their own barracks).

HUMINT: NOTE - Two format changes introduced in this work are 1. My commentary is above the commentary of others. In the past, my writings have gone beneath the writings of other authors. 2. Until this post, my source material has been mostly news items, quotable comments from officials and article length commentaries. In the future, source material will be intentionally diversified - to include material pre 9/11/2001 - books - and my own speculative analysis. Source diversity appears a reasonable way to marry the daily dynamics of the Iraq War to philosophical, ideological, historical, religious and relevant points in order to produce informed political commentary.




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