Friday, February 10, 2006

Expectation Disconnect

Summary: The Iraqi people were generally very happy to see the Americans roll into their country after nearly 25 years of struggles in the Iran/Iraq War, Desert Storm, and wholesale killings by the Saddam Hussein regime. But while the Iraqis were expecting the strong Americans to stop all the looting and restore the electrical power grid, the Americans were thinking we were there to make it safe enough for the Iraqis to take care of themselves. If one has never experienced democracy, he may not know how to handle it. Mistakes were made on both sides, and others will likely be made. But together we can bring liberty and a strong economy to Iraq.

When the Americans rolled into Baghdad in 2003, despite the bombings that had killed and wounded several Iraqis who lived close to such things as anti-aircraft guns and Saddam hideouts, the Iraqis were generally euphoric to see them. For the past 25 years, their brutal dictator had emaciated their collective lives by dragging them from one crisis to another:

--The Iran/Iraq war, from 1980-1988
--The occupation of Kuwait, and the resulting Operation Desert Storm in 1991
--The wholesale slaughter of thousands of Shia’ in the southern part of the country following an uprising after Desert Storm
--The brutal destruction of thousands of Kurds in the north from time to time
--United Nations sanctions as a result of Saddam’s lust for power

Based on Iraqi expectations, American tanks were a welcome sight. But based on those same expectations, they were not a welcome sight for long. Iraqis expected, above all, that the Americans would do two things: (1) protect their streets from looting and chaos, and (2) quickly restore the electrical power grid that had been destroyed by Ba’athist mismanagement during the bombings.

When, on practically the same day Saddam’s statue tumbled to the dust in Baghdad, wide scale looting and destruction began, the Iraqis wondered why the mighty Americans didn’t squash it. After all, Saddam would have put a quick end to it, and the Americans were infinitely more powerful than he. As time went on and the electricity situation didn’t get any better, attitudes of many Iraqis soured even worse, some complaining that this was worse than being under Saddam Hussein.

When President Bush sent L Paul Bremer to begin the reconstruction effort, much emphasis was placed on helping the Iraqis to take care of themselves. The Americans would provide consultation on helping to restore the power grid, and they would provide a backup security force for the police who, it was expected, would control the streets. Not taking into account the docility engrained in the Iraqi people as a result of decades of despotism pressing down on them, America assumed that the Iraqis would immediately know what to do with their new-found freedom. And they were frustrated when Iraqis didn't seem to want to take control of their own destiny.

It is an axiom that people want to be free. It is not similarly axiomatic that they will know what to do with that freedom. That Americans take for granted such freedoms became blinders of sorts in the formation of our expectations of the Iraqi people.

Several mistakes were made. Some continue to be made. But the precarious experiment in freedom here, once feared by some and hoped by others to be fatal, is now improving in leaps and bounds. The disconnect between American and Iraqi expectations is narrowing all the time as we get to know each others’ cultures and ways of thinking. And the further in the past the despotisms of Saddam and his Ba’ath party henchmen become, the easier it will become for Americans to teach the ways of entrepreneurship, oraganization, and responsible decision making and for the Iraqis to implement those teachings.

1 comment:

cylon said...

Many people know the importance of self confidence and try to boost their own by using many different personal development models. Self confidence to most people is the ability to feel at ease in most situations but low self confidence in many areas may be due to a lack of self esteem. Low self esteem takes a more subtle form that low self confidence. So if you are tired of feeling not good enough, afraid of moving towards your desires and goals, feel that no matter what you do it is just never good enough, then your self esteem could do with a boost.
Every day we make decisions based on our level of self-esteem. We also exhibit that level of self esteem to those around us through our behaviour. 90% of all communication is non-verbal - it is not what you say but ho you say it that matters! Your body language, tonality and facial gestures can all tell a completely different story to your words. It is our behaviour which influences others and people react to us by reading our non-verbal communications. Have you ever met someone you just didn't like although on the surface they seemed polite and courteous, or you met someone who seemed to speak confidently yet you knew they were really frightened underneath and just displaying bravado?
Parental and peer influences play a major part in moulding our level of self-esteem when we are children and in our early years of adolescence. The opinions of the people closest to us and how they reacted to us as individuals or part of the group was a dominant factor in the processes involved in forming our self esteem.
As adults we tend to perpetuate these beliefs about ourselves and in the vast majority of cases they are ridiculously erroneous. It is time to re-evaluate our opinion of ourselves and come to some new conclusions about these old belief patterns.
Ask yourself some serious question:
Is your long-held view about yourself accurate? Do we respect the sources from which we derived these beliefs? Most of the negative feedback we bought into as we were growing up actually came from people we have little or no respect for and as adults we would probably laugh their comments away! Yet the damage to your self esteem was done when you were very young and you still carry it with you to this day.
Is it possible that even those people you respected, who influenced your self-worth, were wrong? Perhaps they had low self esteem also.
As adults we have the opportunity to reshape our self-esteem. Try to judge accurately the feedback you receive from people you respect. This process will allow you to deepen your understanding of yourself and expand your self-image. It will also show you were you actually need to change things about yourself and were you don't. Many people are striving to better themselves in areas where they are just fine or actually excelling and it is only because they have an inaccurate picture of themselves in their minds due to low self esteem!
Setting small goals and achieving them will greatly boost your self-esteem. Identify your real weakness and strengths and begin a training program to better your inter-personal or professional skills. This will support you in your future big life goals and boost your self-esteem and self confidence to high levels you didn't existed!
Learn to recognise what makes you feel good about yourself and do more of it. Everyone has certain things that they do which makes them feel worthwhile but people with low self esteem tend to belittle these feelings or ignore them.
Take inventory of all the things that you have already accomplished in your life no matter how small they may seem. Recognise that you have made achievements in your life and remember all the positive things that you have done for yourself and others. Take a note of your failures and don't make excuses like "I'm just not good enough" or "I just knew that would happen to me", analyse the situation and prepare yourself better for the next time. If someone else created success, regardless of the obstacles, then you are capable of doing the same! Remember everyone has different strengths and weakness so do not judge your own performance against that of another just use them as inspiration and know that what one human being has achieved so can another!
Surround yourself with people who respect you and want what is best for you - people who are honest about your strengths and will help you work through your weakness. Give the same level of support to them!
Avoid people who continually undermine you or make you feel small. These people are just displaying very low self esteem. As your own self esteem grows you will find that you are no longer intimidated by another's self confidence or success and you can actually be joyful for them! Do things you love to do and that make you happy. A truly happy person never has low self esteem they are too busy enjoying life! By getting busy living your life with passion and joy you will not be able to be self-consciousness.
If you find yourself feeling self-conscious in any situation focus on the fact that others can tell and many of them will be feeling the same. Be honest. People respond to someone better if they openly say "To tell you the truth I'm a bit nervous" rather than displaying bravo or fake confidence that they can see right through. Their reactions to you, will show your mind at a deep level, that there was actually nothing to be frightened of and everything is great. If someone reacts to this negatively they are just displaying low self esteem and very quickly you will find others noticing this! Really listen to people when they talk to you instead of running through all the negative things that could happen in your head or focusing on your lack of confidence. People respond to someone who is truly with them in the moment..
Breath deeply and slow down. Don't rush to do things.
Stop the negative talk! 'I'm no good at that' or "I couldn't possibly do that" are affirmations that support your lack of self esteem. Instead say "I have never done that before but I am willing to try" or "how best can I do that?". Which leads us to the last point - the quality of the questions you ask yourself s very important.
When you ask a question it almost always has a preposition in it. For example, "How did I mess that up?" presumes that something was messed up, a better way of phrasing the question would be "what way can I fix this quickly?", as this presumes you can and will fix it. Or "How am I ever going to reach my goal?" could be rephrased as "what way will lead me to my goal quicker" presumes that you are going to reach your goal! Get the picture? Change the quality of your questions and your results will change!
Practise these techniques and watch your self esteem rise day by day. subliminal messages