HUMINT: Going Somewhere

Turki al-Hamad: Iraq is a country that is made up of various ethnicities and sects; it has always been like that and always will be, and no one group, however powerful and long-lasting, will be able to subdue all other groups.

Jaysun: The same can be said of America. So what?

humint: Outstanding observation. Virtually all Americans are coming from somewhere. If you were to measure identity as a function of family heritage, Americans have one or more geographical breaks, whereas our friends in Iraq do not. It's not uncommon for families to be able to trace their lineage back many generations. Here in the United States, most of us either cannot or simply do not for lack of interest. Recall the phrase "Bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free." That is the starting point of America's national identity. It's an identity that almost every culture on the planet can relate to but does not share.

Along a similar line - When an Iraqi travels to the United States, they have made an investment and a commitment to the Journey that does not occur when America went to them. I think many Iraqis thought that they were going to become part of the "land of opportunity", overnight. If Americans had %100 control over the script, I have no doubt Iraq would have. It's a pleasant fantasy many Americans still like to have. "If only we had done this or that" they say. War however is one of the most complex social relationships any two nations can engage in. I think the commonsense notion that we are losing in Iraq has more to do with "control" than it does "war". We're certainly not in a position to lose a war with Iraq under any of the current circumstances. For sure, the mess could get messier but that is not losing in any historical sense. So how do Americans get some measure of control back and engender a sensation of winning amongst other Americans? That is another post entirely.

Here's another difference between Iraqis and Americans for you. Americans tend to be control freaks whereas Iraqis are more interested in power. The difference is subtle but important. If you can control a situation, a symptom of that control is power. If, on the other hand, coming from a culture where cooperation is rare, power is conceived to be a static quantity. Power in the Middle East is accumulated parasitically, harvested from other corrupt overlords. To the average Middle Easterner, power is the spoils of conquest, never cooperation. Cooperative command and control took an American team to the moon. That spirit has a lot to do with the identity of Americans. Americans all came from somewhere so they expect that they are going somewhere, if not now, eventually. In other words, Americans have a future - Iraqis only have the present. al-Hamad is asking his fellow Middle Easterners to transcend the present and consider their future. His words are very powerful.




  • HUMINT: Going Somewhere

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