Thursday, January 11, 2007

An interesting request from a friend

"I would especially appreciate it if you would as completely as feasible articulate your impressions of the entire situation prior to going and then do it again after your trip. I want to know how the direct experience alters and informs your views. I think if you wait til you get back the experiment will be flawed."

My impressions are already changing as I go through the process of getting ready to go. I've been talking to people about the project for almost two months, and corresponding for several weeks with a few of the soldiers in Iraq that I will be working with.

Here are some of my impressions and assumptions prior to departure:
  • It seems that the level of animosity towards Americans in general, and the military in particular, in Iraq precludes a successful unilateral solution. Or stated more simply: It seems like most people in Iraq hate us, and it's too late to change that.
  • My impression, as a poorly informed outside observer, is that the US military is playing "wack-a-mole". Basically, running around endlessly smacking the enemy in one place while they pop up somewhere else. It doesn't seem like there are nearly enough troops to really pacify the country militarily. If that were even possible...
  • Without exception every official communication I've had with the Army has been supportive and pleasant. I get the strong sense that military people in general feel that they have a message that they want to get out to the public, and that the American public (myself included) doesn't really understand what is going on.
  • The picture I have of the Iraqi government, police, and military from the media is one of complete incompetence and corruption. Obviously this is broad generalization, but my current opinion of official "democratic" Iraqi organizations is very poor.
  • My gut feel is that the right military strategy would be to pull American troops out of urban areas, and let the Iraqi government have them, for better or worse. While we focus on securing borders, transportation corridors, and critical infrastructure. And meanwhile work diplomatically to involve other Muslim countries in creating viable solutions that lead to a stable Iraqi government (democratic or not).
I hope that some of these impressions turn out to be incorrect, but that's the current perspective I have today based on the information I have.

UPDATE: A reader has pointed out that the correct spelling of "Whac-A-Mole". See:


Anonymous said...

this comment greatly understates my interest, but it's "whack"


Anonymous said...

OK, got it. I see I lead a sheltered life. Mom

Day by Day, by Chris Muir (updated daily)

Chris Muir is the cartoonist that I met in Kuwait. He spent two weeks in Iraq at the same time I was there in February 2007, and so thought it would relevant to showcase his work on my site. Here is a link to Chris' humorous travelogue of this Iraq trip: