Thursday, September 27, 2007

JMO - Why we are losing in Iraq

I was listening to the story on NPR's Morning Edition about Diyala Province, specifically one small community with the only bridge across a canal for miles. The town survived before the US Forces came to secure the area with the people living with the insurgents, both of whom used the bridge to move back and forth across the canal.

When the Americans came, the immediately took over the only two story building in town. They secured it with bomb-proof barriers. And then they posted an armored vehicle on the bridge and began stopping and searching everyone who used the bridge, including every local citizen who simply used the bridge in the normal work and life. The American say they are there to secure the area and to locate and kill the insurgents.

When the townspeople complained, the American soldiers complained back to say they, meaning the locals, weren't stepping up to take over security of the town and the people. The soldiers say they've done their job and want the towns people to help them by reporting insurgents. The townspeople say they won't without proof and won't until the safety of their families can be secure.

And now the townspeople simply want the Americans to leave so they can get back to their normal lives. But the soldiers say they can't without orders and knowing the area is free of insurgents now and in the future. And this, to me, is the crux of the issue. How can we expect people to step up when we come in, turn their town and lives upside down, impose security measures that inhibits their lives, and then demand the take over?

I'm not arguing things were good in the town before we went in. But I would argue how we can expect their support and help when we act like the bullies. We cause some of the population to emigrate and change the rest to fit our model of security. Then we complain when they complain about our presence. What doesn't the US forces get?

Can we really expect to import our values about life, government, etc., into a country so radically different with a history many times longer than ours, and expect to be like and respected and expect they'll see our way of life better? Maybe they need to reread Pogo?

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