Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Nebraska National Guardsman's Take on Iraq

Click below for a letter from Iraq by a Nebraska national guardsman. It's not a rah-rah reflection. It's also not something from the Internet. This guy is a friend. We were in touch by e-mail on something else and I invited him to provide his take on Iraq for my radio show. Go to my Nov. 20 blog post to listen to the discussion of his views on the Check with Chip radio show.

I think it is important to note in beginning any analysis on this question that the Middle East was mostly under the control of the British pre WWI. Churchill specifically gerrymandered these countries to preclude strong central governments capable of contesting with what is today British Petroleum for more advantageous agreements regarding oil revenues (in 1911 Churchill, as first lord of the admiralty, had decided to convert the royal navy from coal-burning to oil-burning ships).

Iraq was no different. Kurds in the north, Sunnis in and around Baghdad, and Shias in the south (Najaf and Karbala are actually the two most important sights to Shias next to Mecca) would definitely stymie any type of strong unified government (exception for a ruthless dictator).

So for the government of the United States to claim there is no civil war in a country designed to be at war with itself is insane to me. I think George Bush senior was much more of a reader than W or Dick Cheney. I think he declined an invasion of Iraq because he knew exactly what awaited in the aftermath. Regrettably, as Americans we are ignorant to the lessons or even a basic background of the history of this region.

The whole freedom, democracy, etc. thing never appealed to me even before I got here. It is simply a convenient sound bite for the post "hey we didn't find any weapons of mass destruction" crowd.

Of our allies in the region (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Jordan) none are democracies or even close to it. Pakistan actually does have nuclear weapons, is ruled by a military dictatorship, and has shared their technology with other "rogue" states yet it is an "ally." Saudi Arabia and Pakistan provided money, comfort, and aid to the Taliban yet they are our "allies." None of the 19 hijackers were Iraqi -- 15 were Saudi, 2 Yemeni?, 1 or 2 Egyptian, and most had some education in the madrassas in the wahhabi region of Saudi Arabia or in the pushtu region of Pakistan -- once again "allies." None were given a stern, anti-American, ultraconservative Sunni education in an Iraqi madrassas.

In the beginning it was weapons of mass destruction, then ties to the 9/11 hijackers, now to establish democracy, and anyone who contests this is labeled un-patriotic. The neocons who dodged service in Vietnam even have the audacity to level this charge at Vietnam veterans with missing limbs or former POWs. Democrat or Republican it makes not a difference. I can't help but remember Oscar Wilde whenever this charge is leveled by neocons: "Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious."

Senator Kay Hutchinson from Texas, I believe, is the one who is a proponent of dividing the country along its ethnic lines. If that would result in peace then why not pursue it?

1. Our Turkish allies would be none too pleased at the outright creation of a Kurdish state in the north.

2. The state department probably fears (and rightly so) that the southern region would go the way of Iran.

3. Rumor is there is a bigger deposit of oil under Baghdad then the whole of the known Saudi oil reserve. With Baghdad being a majority of Sunnis and past Saddam supporters, U.S. firms would not likely be first in line to service those contracts.

However, if these are our reasons for not pursuing a path of likely peace then we cease to be the America we all want to believe in and are in danger of emulating the British empire.

If by winning we mean to rid the country of sectarian violence altogether then get about 500,000 more troops here, start a draft, institute a war tax, and get a good supply of body bags. It slays me the average citizen is not asked to contribute at all to this effort. My congressman and senator have all voted to give the troops a lesser than planned pay raise which to a trained economist is code for tax increase. We say we want to win but the sacrifice necessary is absent and the cost of this war is being passed on to our children.

Out of all of this we should remember that the Shias and Sunnis warred with the British and each other. Over time one thing did unite the Shias and the Sunnis -- their hatred of the British. Let us hope we do not repeat history. The longer we stay, the more we become like the British in the minds of Iraqis and the less they view this new government as legitimate.

For the people who say we fight them in the Middle East so we don't have to fight them in America, okay, at least that is a stated strategy and may or may not hold water. It is pretty hard to determine the truth in that. My only retort is, wouldn't Afghanistan have already fit that bill? Plus it had the legitimacy of being the main al-Qaeda support site. Above all and my main reason for questioning this action is, "What if we have to fight somewhere else?" Is this the best way to spend our resources and blood? If you examine the deception that led us into Iraq you must somewhere in the back of your mind at least entertain this question.

I will end with two quotes from Dwight D. Eisenhower:

"Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels -- men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion."

"We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security."

God bless and Go Big Red.

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