01 August 2007

How do you know you are winning?

I propose that there is not a proper in progress measurement for true lasting success in Iraq while fully engaged, especially during a this surge of American troops. This is like attempting to get your car’s tire pressure while moving on the highway at 65 mph. But it is possible to know you are “winning”; the key is not just knowing, but then doing something about it; not the necessary the same thing.

There has been experiment after experiment in the US that has shown an increase in policemen in an area appears to have no significant effect on the actual rate of violent crime, and a roughly proportionate negative effect on the actual rate of property crime. The same could be said in parts of Iraq where the surge has found more “crime” and caused panic attacks from the anti-Iraq forces (similar to attempting to catch a cat and during the chase, trapping him in a corner causing a panic attack directly at you). But recently, the numbers of events have actually gone down (lowest in eight months); markets have gone from practically dead to hundreds of stores, filled with merchandise; schools open (also allowing female children); hospitals and emergency services able to respond; and essential services coming on-line (by the government or private enterprise). I propose this the key indicator that we are winning and that we can start removing our Soldiers now from living with the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).

The irony is that as more intertwined we become with the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) with the co-habitation surge and in the Joint Security Stations (JSS), the more [not less] dependent the ISF is to us. The American Soldiers is a great example to follow, but also has the habit of taking on too much responsibility and leadership (taking assuming on the role of the alpha male). It is time to start pulling back and give the opportunity for the ISF and the government to fail and learn from mistakes and learn to succeed.

We should take our cue from nature: during the time of training young eagles to fly, the mother eagle throws the eaglets out of the nest and because they are scared, they jump into the nest again. Next, she throws them out and then takes off the soft layers of the nest, leaving thorns. When the scared eaglets jump into the nest again, they are pricked by thorns. Shrieking and bleeding they jump out again this time wondering why the mother and father who love them so much are torturing them. Next, mother eagle pushes them off the cliff into the air. As they shriek in fear, father eagle flies out and picks them upon his back before they fall, and brings them back to the cliff. This goes on for some time until they start flapping their wings. They get excited at this newfound knowledge that they can fly and not fall at such a fast rate...alone.

We have given and demonstrated to the ISF and GoI the proper tools needed for success with security; our job now is to move to a close over-watch position and allow the incubation of this infant democracy develop into the type of free government that matches the culture and in turn become both permanent and contagious in the region. The situation is some areas will get worse, like the thorns, but is will be part of the growing pain. I recommend we do this soon, and under the leadership of the military commanders on the ground before our leaders 6211 miles away take this decision away from us.

The point of measurement of lasting success will start after the removal of American Soldiers in the JSSs and concentrate on the avenues into the city and the borders of Iraq. I would expect there would be an initial increase of negative events, but like the young eaglet, the panic of new found freedom of flight will eventually have Iraq flying on their own.

There will be issues in Iraq for many years – but that is to be expected. The American experiment with democracy and capitalism for 231 years has had many ups and downs… many of the downs have been nothing to be proud of, but the final product is. I expect Iraq will have many of the same experiences, but now that the people of Iraq have tasted freedom, they will never let go.



Anonymous said...

Each couple months, for those of you living and working there, you will be able to see small changes. Each phase can seem like a step forward and sometimes a step backwards. The steps backwards are the depressing ones, but must happen to go forward again. The "progress," however measured, is change.

I no longer agree with the U.S. political stance of "not dealing" openly with "terrorists." Some would label President Bush a terrorist...to be held accountable for war crimes. We all know that there are behind-the-scenes dealings with terrorists. What I believe is that seeing terrorists as not human only allows them the power to thrive (by recruiting fighters, commiting suicide and killing any one in their way). They have nothing else to lose. Now there are generations of hate that have built up and that "wall" will not come down.

Humanitarian aid and talking must go on for the next 3 generations. It's time to stop Pakistan and the regional tribal leaders harboring OB & his propaganda of hate. They do not understand the concept of nation. And apparently we don't understand the tribal mind.

The legacy for all involved (the world) will be tremendous. Every one feels that given the course of U.S. political action, U.S. soldiers are doing the best they can and are as successful as possible. We civilians do care about soldiers.

But there are so many spheres of action and non-action...all influencing each sphere. The tug and pull can seem overwhelming.

Is it all just chess with an extra shadow set of white pieces fighting the black pieces?

Anonymous said...

On Monday, June 25th the AP reports that the final British troops are leaving the area known as “bandit country,” a place of vicious insurgent attacks. This isn’t in Iraq, however, but Northern Ireland. It’s a bit of history and a bit of relevant news from which some hard lessons can be gleaned in regard to the situation in Iraq. The British had been fighting the IRA in Northern Ireland for about 30 years. We’ve been in Iraq for a little over 4, and it’s a much worse situation there. Insurgencies are like that, and the longer they sustain the more it drains the opposing power.

The British had the luxury of NI being in their backyard and being a much smaller country than Iraq. They could easily ship supplies and reinforcements, and react to situations faster. To fight an insurgency in Iraq for 30 years would require the resources and willpower that no major nation could sustain effectively. In NI, the British succeeded to a degree. The IRA gave up their Libyan-supplied weapons in 2005, and the peace agreement reached in 1998 has worked.

Dominic Bradley, a Social Democratic and Labour Party member, made a relevant quote about the British departure when he said, “At the end of the day, their departure was brought about by peaceful, democratic politics and not by the use of violence, which at times did nothing more than lengthen the duration of their stay.”

Most of the non-Al-Qaieda insurgents in Iraq want the US out of their country, yet don’t realize that the more chaotic things are, the longer our government will feel we need to stay there. If there were hardly any more violent attacks and the opposing parties agreed to work together, even loosely, to enable a stable government that can keep law and order, then there is little reason to keep US troops stationed there. Which is why the British are leaving NI; there’s just little to no need to occupy those areas any longer.

Unfortunately for us, Iraq is a much larger problem with many different sides all fighting for different reasons. We have Sunni’s and Shiites, which are engaging more in revenge attacks than anything; al-Qaeda, who just wants to kill anyone not affiliated with themselves; Hamas and a dozen other small-time insurgent groups fighting the US presence; and Iran, who are feeding men and material into the conflict. The situation in Iraq almost needs an open civil war to finally settle the division that has fractured the country. Too many sides thinking they are right.

Or we can try and wait 30 years and hope they just get old, retire and give up their weapons.