Iraq and the type "A" personality


I'm new to Ben's corner of the world, but he has been gracious enough to let me post. I initially wrote this article in Febuary of 04 (so alot of the troubles in Iraq that I mention may seem outdated, but when i wrote them, they didn't happen yet - e.g. al-Zarqawi's attacks), and have added minor revisions.

Note: I'm putting it under my magazine's name, because we haven't been published in a while...i've been busy with a screenplay.

Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks

JUICY Magazine® presents:

Empathy, Northern Iraq, and Sistani - The Iraqi Power Vacuum
by Geddy Patricks

Iraq: War Profiteering and Possible Civil War

What went wrong in Iraq? Is it just time? Will things turn around. If it's just a matter of time, then why have we lost over 1,000 troops? Nope, it's a quagmire and not going to get better any time soon.

Let's look back, maybe this will allow us to gain insight as to why problems persist.

Some of the best battlefield generals in history have contended that one of most successful ways to conquer your enemy is to put yourself in his or her skin. You must think like your enemy. Simple, right? This is a generalized and cliché tactic, yet extremely relevant and perfectly apt to fully understanding current events in Iraq.

To view the rest of this post please see the comments section...

1 comment:

Ben said...

(Continued from the main post, ed.)

Three major questions arise from this timeless military strategy within the context of Iraq:

1) Can the US successfully accomplish this strategy or will it be impeded by: it's lack of willingness to empathize (to understand culture as well as an Iraqi does), our willingness but misunderstanding (with such volatile atmosphere and short time of duration), and/or a lack of time without always being seen as occupiers, or simply put, "others"?

2) If the US does accomplish this, will we be able to appease the Shiites?

3) Is it too late?

The answer to the two latter questions are respectively "no" and "yes" or at least current circumstances tend to indicate this. The former question is still outstanding, however it may in fact be irrelevant to starting a truly peaceful, self-governing democratic Iraq.

Everyday, thousands of Shiites (the most populous Islamic group in Iraq already at 60%) pour into Iraq across the border from Iran. A good number of these individuals are directly sent by the hard-line anti-American Shiite leaders who govern Iran. Once they arrive in Iraq, they are armed (if they so desire to be) by other Shiites, and there are a good many (no exact number is known by press at this time) called "the army of God". This radically militant organization acts in direct accordance with the directives of Shiite leaders in Iraq such as cleric Al-Sadr. Currently the most powerful Shiite leaders are fervently against the US occupation and will not even meet with any of the administration (Rumsfeld and Bremmer both tried to meet with many including leading Shiite leader Ali Sistani, but were stopped at door, for some administration envoys and members of the press, literally stopped at the door).

And of course we still have to worry about the immense civil unrest in northern Iraq (especially in Kirkuk, one of the country's greatest oil producing cities, where Kurds, Turkomans, and Sunni-Arabs are all engaged in a power struggle which has erupted in bloodshed during the course of the last month. With the recent power vacuum, the north is truly collapsing under ethnic tensions and the situation will only get worse. The northern pressure-cooker is not at all helped by the fact that the Sunni Arabs that now inhabit Kirkuk were part of a relocation plan Saddam Hussein introduced to try to modify the ethnic tapestry of the already split Kurd/Turkoman population. During this process Kurds and Turkmen were driven from Kirkuk and thousands of outlying villages to create living space for Arabs. The process, called "Arabization" was Saddam's strategy, one that had actually started before his rule, to lay claim to Kirkuk and its estimated 10 billion barrels of oil reserves (approx. 40 percent of Iraq's total). For financial and religious reasons, the Kurds, who refer to Kirkuk as their Jerusalem, will obviously not give up without a fight.

Bush's strategy for winning the Iraqi War

The A-type personality that Bush epitomizes, uses, and is found in the administration's strategy does not work in Iraq (as one may argue worked in détente with the Soviet Union). It also notably didn't work for the other Texan president (in office prior Bush's father), Lyndon Johnson who was commander-in-chief during our last major US blood bath, Vietnam. Thinking Vietnam and Iraq are much different is only correct in so far as it pertains to number of causalities. The internal civil unrest is highly similar in its fervor and history. The cultural misunderstanding in Vietnam is still the problem that Bush had and has not learned from, and hence now faces today. How will his actions as Commander-in-Chief deal with this issue in Iraq? Will he try to re-strategize? Is this possible?

The US military’s superiority will only go so far. For historical reference, again consider Vietnam. We dropped more bombs in Vietnam than both sides dropped against one another in World War II. We are now trying to use force against a highly complex tribal/ethnic system where in comparison with Afghanistan, the Iraqis are higher in number, more organized, and more armed than the Afghans when the US invaded their homeland. Also, it is worthy to note that the tensions in Iraq are currently higher than they ever were in Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai rarely leaves his living quarters under threat of assisination. According to one source: “his actual authority outside the capital city of Kabul is said to be so limited that he is often derided as the "Mayor of Kabul." And it’s important to note that opium production is back to pre-war levels.

But, getting back to the other administration’s debacle, many Iraqis have already been alienated by US troops and the administration's poorly run occupation. What caused the disconnect? It was primarily due to: the US military's (a.k.a the occupation's forces) lack of knowledge pertaining to Iraq's recent history (and even older and ancient history), the devoutness Iraqis have to Shiite leaders, an inability or careless unwillingness to stop the influx of anti-American foreigners from other countries. These are just some to name a few. The typical "2 day" wait Iraqi's must face for gasoline doesn't help the situation.

Overall this all stems from a reckless allocation of funds (we've spent millions in Tikrit last year alone, only to have the people there be worse off than they were before the war), poor planning, and of course, a lack of empathy. All the US tax payer money gone. Gone forever. This money could have been used to improve American schools, healthcare system, and prescription drug leveraging. Whatever the reason, the schism is in place and quickly gaining ground.

Note: the following was written 2/04: And here's where Al-Queda comes in to make matters worse. Al-Queda and like-minded groups fully understand the divisions in the Islamic religion. They know the specifics of the civil unrest and will use everything in their power to exacerbate it. The most recent Al-Queda directive, validated by US intelligence (though this might not be the best validation process, however, motivation for such validation would be unclear) gives us insight into the future. The letter calls for more suicide bombings against the Shiite Muslim majority.

They know that as long as the Shiites are angry, there are major consequences.

The man who really runs Iraq

The Leading Shiite in Iraq is the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

One of the top two Shiite clerics in the world, Sistani, believes that he is a descendant of the prophet Mohammed. The reclusive 75-year old, wears a black turban, giving a hauntingly similar appearance to the late Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran. Sistani has control over millions of dollars worth of donations and manipulates schools, mosques, and clinics so that they adhere to his doctrine. Reports indicate that he is trying to launch a television station (which will probably be popular with the 60% Shiite majority in Iraq). He also has his own website. He still holds all the cards in his pocket.

Transitioning of power?

The Bush administration is currently backing a "caucus-like” set of elections (18 regional), attended by pre-selected "representatives" from each province. These elections are planned to take place at the end of June. However, Sistani, the voice of the populous, wants direct elections. And he wants them much sooner than what the US administration's plans entail.

Why does the US want to eliminate any populous-type democratic vote? Contracts and control. The US government seeks to keep the already multi-billion dollar US contracts in place and through government control, ensure the safety of this enormous "business venture" in order to facilitate the safe work and progress of the American corporation who seeks to set up camp in Iraq (mainly contractors at the current moment). Hence, they are planning a puppet election so that they can, in a nut-shell, help their buddy's make a ton of money and continue to do so without any regard to Iraqi life, culture, and societal structure. We are not only talking about Halliburton here. There are hundreds of companies who have already been awarded contracts and there are thousands of US companies already in board meetings--probably one or two at this very moment--discussing how best to organize their companies in the once untouchable Iraq.

But don't take my word for it, go to this official US government website. Note: Look under "Business Opportunities" if you're interested in opening a TGIF in Tikrit. NO previous experience necessary!!! However, no health or life insurance offered at this time.

We are rebuilding Iraq, just look at the progress. Look at all the American jobs we have created for the American contracting companies. Those companies (and the living, breathing individuals who compose them) are about as ethical as the invasion itself. However, they are there to “help”, not to make money for the CEO’s of these companies and pay for their children’s ivy league college tuition, a yacht, more shares in the company, etc. Most would say they are “rebuilding Iraq”. But that’s a façade. People are making money. Lot’s of it, and without a conscious (unless they are too unintelligent to realize what is really going on). Regardless of their moral motivations, they are war profiteers. Just as their fearless leader, Cheney is. Cheney, of course, was lying when he told Tim Russsert that he no longer has any association with the company. In reality, he receives an annual pension of $150,000, in addition to holding 443,000 stock options all traded below current market value (currently worth 18 million). Every time Halliburton makes money, so does he (and his wife who was recently on the board of the largest weapons manufacturer in the world, and war profiteer, Lockheed Martin). Nice, warm family.

The administration's intentions are clear-cut, but what happens if the Shiites take even more substantial control of a government which had favored the Sunni's before the US invasion? This will be an enormous and awkward adjustment for a group that has been favored and in power and favored for approximately 40 years. The Sunni's already know of their possible fate and will step up their already ferocious guerrilla war when they realize they have truly lost power to the Shiites. One minuscule step over the line and a civil war breaks out. The path to this war is currently opening it’s way. It is showing it’s most recent signs in Fallujah/Baghdad, the site of several Iraqi civilian and U.S. soldier deaths/casualties.

However, whatever the latest outcome of Fallujah or other hotspots turns out to be, unfortunately, the war has just begun.

- Geddy Patricks

"It is in the best interests of everyone for the Americans to leave as quickly as possible,"
- Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim – 12/03, assassinated approximately a year ago when he was the prominent leader of the Iraqi Shiite population (note: Al-Hakim's brother, Abdel-Aziz is a strong supporter of Sistani and also seek stronger influence in the future political structure of Iraq).

Geddy Patricks, Copyright, 2004
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