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
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.