December 10, 2006


Political Critic posts a reaction to the Iraq Study Group. In it, he says

The ISG's second point focuses on the training of the Iraqi military, which should be the main focus. Unfortunately, the Iraqi military has not been trained properly for the 3+ years that we've been there and that is not addressed. Apparently, the ISG believes that all of a sudden the Iraqi military will get trained exponentially faster and before the American forces leave. The report is correct to focus on the training, but makes no mention of how to stop the corruption, infiltration, and safety issues that they face.

I think this is an easy complaint to make -- "the Iraqi military has not been trained properly" -- but proposals on how to be more efficient are hard to come by.

I've spent a lot of time around soldiers who've been to Iraq, and I've heard lots of stories about training Iraqi soldiers. That was one of the primary missions of my husband's brigade as far back as early 2004. Everywhere they went, Iraqis went with them. Everything they did, Iraqis were involved. I hate when politicians say that we'd be able to pull out of Iraq if we'd just concentrate on training Iraqis. We've been doing that since day one.

However, training Iraqis is not just a matter of teaching them to shoot and how to go on raids. Heck, I've heard that's nothing to sneeze at in and of itself: when you're trying to teach someone who thinks that bullets go wherever Allah wills them to go, it can apparently be a pain in the neck to get them to aim. And that's the larger point of training Iraqis: you're teaching culture as much as military training.

I heard a story about the Iraqi police, who proudly bragged that they had taken a suspect into their station and beaten him all night long. They were proud, telling the Americans because they thought that they had done something good. Look, we're keeping order! The Americans didn't know what to do except shake their head and try to explain why this was not a good thing.

In order to teach someone to stand up and fight for his own country, you have to teach him to love his country above everything else. How do you teach that? All the target practice in the world can't stop "corruption, infiltration, and safety issues." You can't teach Iraqis to be Americans, to all of a sudden erase decades (centuries?) of ingrained tribalism and mores and have them care about the same things we care about. It's like we're looking at this through the lens of our own history: settlers came to the US and learned to live in religious harmony and value freedom and democracy over everything, so why can't you? If we just teach them to use a rifle, then they'll rise up like colonial Americans did, right? But it's not that simple. We can't force them to want the same things early Americans wanted. That's the problem with this so-called Bush Doctrine, which was a noble idea because we Americans have been taught from birth that all men want to live free. But unfortunately we tried to free people who think sharia is the way to go. Just teaching them to raid a house and hunt for IEDs is not going to fix the underlying issues in their society.

I think this talk of training Iraqis has been grossly oversimplified in every discussion I've ever heard about it, except for the soldiers who've actually had to try to do it.

Posted by: Sarah at 05:20 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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1 Great post. I have also been so disappointed that the whole theory of: "if you give people boots, they will be able to pull themselves up by the bootstraps" hasn't worked. We have this naive idea in America, which goes along with the Welfare system, etc, that if we just give people a little help, they will turn their lives around. We always think they will use the system how we would. But that so very rarely happens. But we nevertheless start new programs. It's strange that we didn't really recognize this, but the Bush-Doctrine makes about as much sense as throwing money at any social ill we have in this country. Phil Carter also has a post up about this, where he made mention that the report doesn't quote or seem to have referenced anyone lower than a Lt. Col. which is disturbing seeing as they aren't as close to the action as many enlisted and lower level officers.

Posted by: CaliValleyGirl at December 10, 2006 07:04 AM (deur4)

2 Here's that link: I was especially interested in bg's comments.

Posted by: Sarah at December 10, 2006 07:58 AM (7Wklx)

3 You are 100% correct to say that the Iraqis need to love their country above all else or they'll never fight for it. In other posts, I describe in more detail the need to separate the nation into three federations with three governments. I believe this would go a long way in love of country and motivation to serve. Sunnis would be more apt to defend the nation of Sunni; likewise with the Kurds and Shia. I also believe they need to be trained outside the country to ensure safety and avoid infiltration. Many trainees have been killed by insurgents and many others are insurgents. If you go outside Iraq to train them, you can monitor their status and keep them alive until they're ready to serve. They may never adopt American ideals and standards, but at this point, we only want them to be able to keep some semblance of order.

Posted by: PoliticalCritic at December 10, 2006 08:26 AM (p7CUq)

4 You make a good argument for leaving Iraq. We can't train them. They can't learn to be free. We can't teach them to "love" their country. What the hell is wrong with them? We need to leave. Sorry folks, didn't mean to fuck up your country. Bye bye, good luck.

Posted by: Robert at December 10, 2006 08:08 PM (9R9sC)

5 "In order to teach someone to stand up and fight for his own country, you have to teach him to love his country above everything else. How do you teach that?" Well said, and this is what bothers me. I can so relate to this post.

Posted by: Andi at December 11, 2006 05:00 AM (OzAse)

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