David Kline (dkline) Sun 16 Nov 03 08:32
The obvious lack of sufficient human intelligence in Iraq spotlights the problems inherent with "imposing" regime change on a population that was clearly nowhere near being able to effect it themselves. The kind of human intelligence needed to create and maintain an orderly civil society against insurgent or terror attacks can only come from a motivated people who feel they have a direct stake in the outcome of events and are willing and able to be the masters of their own fates. In Afghanistan, for example, we worked with an anti-Taliban political and military force with deep roots among the people. In fact, the so-called "Northern Alliance" was the legal UN-recognized government of Afghanistan. They had solid human intelligence and broad support among an armed population seething under Taliban rule. And once they were supplied with sufficient arms and technology, they vanquished the Taliban in weeks. The Loya Jirga (grand popular council) that created the provisional Afghan government a few months later onlyspotlighted the relatively high degree of readiness of the population to embark on a democratic process. Nothing like this exists in Iraq, except among the isolated Kurds in the north and perhaps to some degree among the Shiite militias (although the latter's commitment to a democratic process is still uncertain). We've discussed this question before -- can one effectively impose from outside democratic change on a people who are largely unorganized politically and militarily to carry out their own democratic revolution? First, we should remember that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was NEVER about kick-starting democracy in Iraq. This was an excuse cooked up after our initial cries of weapons of mass destruction were exposed as fraudulent. Still, some now say that whether intended or not, at least the U.S. presence in Iraq is now facilitating a working democratic process. I have my doubts as to how effectively this can be imposed from without.
Berliner (captward) Sun 16 Nov 03 08:47
Excellent point: it'd be like converting them to your religion. You can maybe make them go to church, but you can't make them deep-down *believe* in it. If the inclination and the structures weren't there before, you can't very well impose them, can you?
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sun 16 Nov 03 09:11
The Sunday talk shows are talking about us putting in a government and then walking away, and whether the infrastructure is in place for the country to be run at that point. What happens if we do and it's not?
Berliner (captward) Sun 16 Nov 03 09:17
Is it too much to expect that a sort of organic sorting-out might occur? In other words, we do that, split, retreat back into our little shell or else go try to disastrously invade another country (although I doubt the US public would sit still for that), Iraq slides into chaos, civil war, and theocracy, but, like Iran, after 30 years, that's not working, the world is shunning Iraq because of its government, and a *true* democratic movement comes from the grass roots. Of course, given the experience of secularism already in their history, albeit under Saddam, this might not take as long as it has in Iran.
John Zuill (klauposius) Sun 16 Nov 03 09:20
>What happens if we do and it's not? I think Civil War. What do you think Christian?
tambourine verde (barb-albq) Sun 16 Nov 03 10:24
How can Bush use the situation to show that they've won? How can they explain that it's ok to leave all those undiscovered WMD sitting there while terrorists infiltrate and civil war or at least factional fighting occurs? If the US military can't win the peace over there, how can military personnel under UN control do it? And how can the political shell game being planned by Chalabi actually create any semblance of a functioning provisional government by June? Won't the insurgents expand and increase their violence if and when the US beings to pull out? How will Bush explain all this? And a note of thanks to <echodog> for supplying his usual excellent information about the military side of things.
John Zuill (klauposius) Sun 16 Nov 03 11:03
Good point about the WMD. We will simply drop one strain of improbable logic for a more convienient strain of improbable logic. And what about the discarded real weapons lieing about in desert? Can you leave three angry groups of people in one country with a grocery store of light arms?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 16 Nov 03 11:24
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Ron Levin (eclectic2) Sun 16 Nov 03 12:29
<First, we should remember that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was NEVER about kick-starting democracy in Iraq.> Well, yes it was. It certainly wasn't the main rationale given for the invasion, but that was always mentioned as part of the post-war plan for influencing political change in the region. WMD was always just an excuse for a much larger neo-con agenda. I agree, however, that the best hope for bringing democracy to a country is through international efforts, not by unilateral invasions, which the neo-cons of course favor.
Ron Levin (eclectic2) Sun 16 Nov 03 12:31
We Don't Know How to Build Democracy By Stephen D. Krasner, Stephen D. Krasner is a professor of political science and director of the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at the Stanford Institute for International Studies. STANFORD In a speech to the National Endowment for Democracy this month, President Bush outlined the country's commitment to promoting democracy throughout the world, saying that "the advance of freedom" is both "the calling of our time" and "the calling of our country." The president articulated clearly where we would like to end up: in a world composed of functioning, sovereign, democratic states. The advantages of such a world are obvious. In mature democracies, domestic institutions are stable and leaders accountable. The rule of law prevails and corruption is limited. Economic policy is constructive and incomes and opportunities increase. The appeal of terrorism lessens. But with all our determination to promote democracy, the truth is, we don't have a very good idea of how to do it. Neither the United States nor anyone else has much experience in creating democracy where there was none. The accepted international practices to promote democracy such things as United Nations peacekeeping operations, foreign assistance to support better governance, and transitional administrations like those set up in Kosovo and East Timor haven't proved to be all that satisfactory. Even our governmental institutions reflect our unpreparedness for the task: We have a Department of Defense, but we don't have a Department of Regime Building. What we do know or should know is that getting from here to there will be hard. The states we're most interested in helping to transform today generally have low per-capita incomes, limited experience with democracy and long histories of autocratic and sometimes brutal rule. These are not conditions that tend to foster democracy. Among the surprisingly few things we know about creating democracies is this: While it doesn't necessarily take higher per-capita income to establish a democracy, it certainly helps in sustaining it. No democratic country with per-capita income above $6,000 has ever reverted to autocracy. More: http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/sunopinion/la-op-krasner16nov16,1,453 2761.story?coll=la-headlines-sunop-manual
Christian De Leon-Horton (echodog) Sun 16 Nov 03 13:34
I don't think anyone ever said that democracy came from the barrel of a gun, but to some extent that's what we're attempting to do. Kind of tricky. The US Army is always short of linguists when the balloon goes up--somehow the Army has never quite learned to properly appreciate linguistic capability and support linguistic training. Those soldiers at DLI work very hard to learn their target languages (I should know, I'm an alum myself) but frankly, even if the training is top-notch, the sustainment isn't. There are basically two types of Army linguists. The 98G series is trained to intercept enemy radio communications and derive intelligence from it. The 97E series is trained to interrogate people and derive intelligence that way. In a HUMINT situation, obviously, the 97E is best suited to gathering intelligence. Trouble is, while language testing is done yearly on all linguists, speaking ability is tested exactly ONCE in a linguist's career- when he or she grduates from DLI. This is because in order to test speaking, obviously, you have to be one-on-one with someone else who speaks the language, the the Army just doesn't have the teaching personnel spread out at the various units worldwide to conduct speaking tests. The situation is about to become worse--recently the idea was raised to remove linguistic training from 97E all together, and just have them interrogate through contracted interpreters in theater. The rational given was that too many linguist 97E were leaving the Army after the first enlistment, so linguistic training should be reserved as a re-enlistment bonus. If you're thinking this is a pretty stupid idea, I'm right there with you. In fact, the US military relies very heavily on contracted interpreters these days, and one has to wonder about the reliability and loyalty of someone you hire in country. You might wonder why the military does not have trained interpreters. In fact, we do--98L. However, the 98L MOS only exists in a reserve unit from Utah, mostly made up of nice Mormon soldiers who have learned foreign languages for the purpose of their religious missions. In other words, they receive linguistic training and support from a source outside the military. They're pretty darn good, but there's only so many of them to go around. You might also wonder why we don't specifically enlist soldiers who already speak the language as military linguists. We do that too--it's called the Stripes for Skills program. Basically it provides a soldier with an automatic promotion to sergeant after AIT if they qualify as linguists. (They still have to go to PLDC, the sergeant's school, at some point later in their career.) Some of these soldiers are excellent linguists, but frankly, they may not be excellent NCOs because they are limited in the kind of experience it makes to be an NCO. (I'm lucky, myself--I've had four stripes for skills NCOs in my platoon and they've all worked their asses off to be good leaders.) In general, however, the Army seems to have difficulty holding on to good linguists. In fact, the re-enlistment bonuses for linguists are not that impressive, compared to the Air Force and Navy linguists--and Army linguists have some of the highest bonuses in the Army. Many linguists simply get fed up with not getting proper language training and go where they can make good money using this skill that the Army spent hundreds of thousands of dollars teaching them.
David Kline (dkline) Sun 16 Nov 03 14:00
Interesting NY Times article today on Arabic language training: ___________________ For Americans, Arabic is a difficult language. It has some unfamiliar throaty sounds, a vast and ancient vocabulary, script that reads from right to left and dialects so distinct that native speakers from Morocco, Yemen and Iraq often cannot understand one another. Nevertheless, the United States, with much of its military, intelligence and diplomatic energy focused on the Mideast crisis, needs more Arabic speakers, and it is getting them. Scores of colleges and universities have added or expanded Arabic course offerings, and a new study has provided the first broad statistical evidence that more students than ever are enrolling in Arabic classes. But whether the boom will last is another matter. The number of Arabic students remains small. America's new generation of would-be Arabic speakers must show that they can muster the discipline necessary for the long march to fluency. And questions have been raised about the quality of the teaching. <snip> The M.L.A. survey collected data on foreign language enrollment from fall 2002 from 780 colleges and universities. It showed that 1.4 million students are studying at least one foreign language, more than in any year since 1972. The survey found that 10,596 students were studying Arabic, compared with 5,505 in 1998, the last time the association collected such figures. Still, Arabic remains outside the mainstream of language study. Fewer than 1 percent of all students enrolled in a foreign language course are studying Arabic. Nine of 10 colleges and universities do not offer a Arabic course, the survey found. Even an arcane language like ancient Greek is taught at more than twice as many colleges as Arabic, the survey found, although that is changing. In 1998, only 157 colleges and universities offered Arabic. By 2002, an additional 77 did. Opportunities to learn it are opening faster than for any other language except Spanish. <snip> The Foreign Service Institute at the State Department puts Arabic in its "super-hard" category, along with Chinese, Japanese and Korean, said James E. Bernhardt, chairman of the institute's department of Arabic and Asian languages. The institute estimates that bright students need at least 88 weeks of full-time training to reach entry-level professional proficiency, he said. By comparison, to achieve the same proficiency in Hebrew, which the institute rates as "hard," requires 44 weeks, Mr. Bernhardt said. So far, however, recent statistics from the National Middle East Language Resource Center show that attrition among Arabic learners appears to be lower than Lambert's law would predict. At nine universities with long-established Arabic programs ... 61 percent of students who completed first year Arabic in June 2002 enrolled in second-year courses in the fall, and 63 percent who completed second-year courses enrolled for the third year.
Ron Levin (eclectic2) Sun 16 Nov 03 15:44
From a WP article on European feelings about Iraq: <Some hope that Iraq will prove to be a learning process for -- if not a fatal blow to -- American neo-conservatives, whom many Europeans hold responsible for the war. "Iraq is proving that even for the U.S. it is not easy to go it alone," said Eberhard Sandschneider of the German Council on Foreign Relations. He added, however, that Europe does not want the lesson to be too severe. "It cannot be a sensible policy to humiliate the U.S," he said. Josef Joffe, co-editor of Die Zeit, a German weekly newspaper, recently returned from a trip to Iraq that left him pessimistic about the prospects for American success. "There's a sinking feeling that if the U.S. screws up, we're all going to suffer," he said. "The idea of excessive U.S. weakness, if the U.S. goes into retreat or isolationism, is now exercising the same people who were obsessed with excessive U.S. power," Joffe said. "There are a lot of bad guys out there and the Europeans know that the Middle East is a very dangerous place from which a lot of bad stuff can emanate. The Europeans want the U.S. attack dog safely leashed, but they don't want the attack dog put down." Blair agreed. "The thing I fear is not American unilateralism, it is actually American isolationism, were it ever to go down that path," he said. Looking back on the deep divisions earlier this year when the United States and Britain gave up trying to win a U.N. Security Council resolution endorsing military action after France threatened to veto it, many Europeans contend both sides were to blame. Some -- including British officials who ended up supporting the war -- believe the United States should have waited for U.N. weapons inspectors to complete their work before launching its campaign. But many also believe that France, Germany and Russia could have adopted a less confrontational approach toward the United States and other European nations and could have worked harder to produce international consensus. "There certainly should be a lesson to learn on both sides," said Rummel. "For the Europeans among themselves it was as painful as it was for transatlantic relations. But things just escalated. No one wants that to happen again."> Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A46196-2003Nov15_2.html
Jacques Delaguerre http://www.delaguerre.com/delaguerre/ (jax) Sun 16 Nov 03 17:10
>In fact, the US military relies very heavily on contracted >interpreters these days, and one has to wonder about the reliability >and loyalty of someone you hire in country. I seem to remember that Crassus had some trouble on that score when he marched his army through Mesopotamia some 2060 years ago ...
David Kline (dkline) Mon 17 Nov 03 08:32
Interesting article, Ron. Thanks.
Gail Williams (gail) Tue 18 Nov 03 10:13
David, I just came back here from this story, which includes some interesting and candid dismay from conservatives of various stripes and degrees of intelligence. Interesting how some people can hold on to the idea that being against the war before it started was wrong, even if the war looks like a bad move, or the excuses are no longer believed in retrospect. Any idea on how to reach some of these folks who are losing heart from another perspective? http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2003/11/18/lion_s_den/
I'm on the Chet Atkins Diet. Pass the BBQ, please. (rik) Tue 18 Nov 03 10:28
>But since the days when our species lived in caves, we have followed a solid trend line towards greater individual freedom and a more humanistic world order." I disagree with this entirely. The 20th century saw genocide on an industrial scale, the invention and deployment and use of the most destructive weapons in history, and the spectacle of the richest societies in history turning away while disease, famine, and war consumed large sections of Africa. If there has been any solid line, it has in our ability to snow ourselves with the thought that human nature is changing. As the follies in Bosnia and Kosovo have shown, modern human beings are every bit as capable of turning on their fellow humans and acting like the animals we think we're better than. Human nature doesn't change, and if there is to be any progress in how humans treat each other, it will be the result of intelligently designed social systems that protect the weak and less powerful.
David Kline (dkline) Tue 18 Nov 03 10:44
My only suggestion is to unite left & right discontents under a pragmatic message: we're waging the wrong war -- a losing war -- in Iraq, while the right war in Afghanistan and Pakistan is begging for our attention. Liberals have to show that we're not against national security, or a resolute fight against Islamic fundamentalist terror. We're all for it -- we just want it to be fought in a way that leads to victory not defeat. Furthermore, conservatives LOVE the memory of our successful struggle against Soviet communism. We should promote the key lessons we learned in that half-century-long effort: that while the judicious use of force is at times very important, the main effort in our war on terror must be a political & ideological battle for the hearts and minds of all Muslims.
David Kline (dkline) Tue 18 Nov 03 10:53
slip from <rik>, to whom I would only point out that while modern society is rife with contradictions -- technologically-enabled genocide vs. substantially increased life expectancy for MOST people -- it is only in the last few hundred years that the idea of protected individual rights, democracy for the "common man," freedom of thought and worship, and mass literacy & public health have become even partially-attained human goals. 500 years ago few would have known what those words meant. Now they are slowly but surely becoming realities in many areas of the globe (china, se asia, latin America, Europe and north america). This is no small thing, and to me indicates a solid historical trend line for the better.
John Zuill (klauposius) Tue 18 Nov 03 10:57
To Gail William's post and http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2003/11/18/lion_s_den/ Willful moral prevaracators and oppurtunists. And it has nothing to do with the Right. I have an uncle who was in the Royal Navy who would make Bush look like a hippy. He and his pals think the Iraq war is absolute lunacy. The republicans have gone wonky. And where the hell are the democrats? Yes I supported this war but only once Bush stated he was going. Once he said "We're going" he couldn't possibly back out without empowering Saddam immensely. Now George has announced he will definitely leave, giving his enemies a time table for the the civil war. Set your clock Ahmed and pass the ammo. He made the same mistake twice! He is an absolutly impossible person!
John Zuill (klauposius) Tue 18 Nov 03 11:08
So what'll it be? Civil war crushed by a three way split, Turkey takes the north, chases the Kurds into Iran where they will be welcomed like rotten fish; Syria and Jordan quibble over the the center and Bagdad, and fight the occasional turf war with Turkey for the oil. The Iranians take the south and glare over the border at the Saudis. We all sit around for the House of Saud to fall and the real fireworks to start. Sound familiar? Africa but with real weapons?
Ron Levin (eclectic2) Tue 18 Nov 03 11:31
<Human nature doesn't change> What is "human nature?" When was it carved in stone? A million years ago? Ten thousand? A thousand? Or maybe when Adam & Eve were banished from Eden? I don't know if there is such a thing as a single "human nature," but I think human beings are constantly evolving towards a more peaceful, enlightened civilization. There's obviously been a tremendous amount of conflict along the way, as populations expand & various ideological forces come in to contact, but I think that conflict is the very means through which cultures inevitably advance. <if there is to be any progress in how humans treat each other, it will be the result of intelligently designed social systems that protect the weak and less powerful.> I agree. But the fact that people are capable of creating & sustaining such systems illustrates that our civilization is indeed evolving. Eventually, as individual consciousness grows, we may not need such systems, but for now I think they're like training wheels for society.
John Zuill (klauposius) Tue 18 Nov 03 11:37
On the issue of human nature I agree with "I'm on the Chet Atkins Diet. Pass the BBQ, please. (rik) " We don't go forward to a more humane (sic) society unless a) we are lucky b) We are vigilant It is not a natural progression.
David Kline (dkline) Tue 18 Nov 03 12:36
Well, we have been vigilant. And smart (overall). We no longer practice human sacrifice, serfdom or slavery (generally speaking). Public health for the masses has greatly extended life expectancies. And already in about 1/3 of the globe, we have embarked on the liberation of the spiritual, intellectual, and productive potential of half our population -- women -- which was something wholly inconceivable barely 100 years ago. Something more than half the world is also now literate -- again, something that would have been considered impossible a century or two ago. Rape and pillage are no longer considered worthy avocations, although these are still sometimes practiced. Genocide is now outlawed, if imperfectly prevented. Even the practice of war has been constrained by moral codes and by universally-accepted international laws. Here at home, slavery no longer exists nor does the Jim Crow segregation which prevailedat the time I was born. If you think that just because racism still exists that therefore the abolition of widespread lynching and Jim Crow and the subsequent enforcement of Black voting rights was no big thing, I urge you to talk to African-Americans over the age of 50. Women, children, the elderly, the sick, the disabled, and racial and sexual minorities also now enjoy legal and moral protections that were -- quite literally -- unthinkable even fifty years ago. Anyone who thinks human society isn't progressing should also talk to their grandparents or great-grandparents about what life was like in their youth. Just thinking about my grandfather (whose entire family was locked in a barn and burned to death during a Ukrainian pogram in 1921) and my grandmother (whose husband and all but one of her children were shot in that same pogram) -- they both escaped to the U.S., where they married and started a new (albeit shell-shocked) family -- makes me realize that my life is really rather sweet by comparison.
David Kline (dkline) Tue 18 Nov 03 12:41
Jeez, talk about drift!
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