Summary: A recent Iraqi acquaintance told me that Operation Iraqi Freedom has gone on for way too long. The main reason? According to him, the Americans are way too nice to the insurgency.
I recently had an interesting conversation with a young man (younger than me anyway) about the struggle for the soul of Iraq. He was born and lived for about 11 years in Iraq, but went with his family to the United States following Operation Desert Storm when Saddam and the Ba’ath party went on a Shia’-killing rampage. He has returned now as a contract worker with the United States military, interrogating detainees brought in by either the American or Iraqi military units.
“I don’t think we’re making much progress here,” he told me. “I mean it’s been three years, and we should have completed this in one year. The insurgents should have been destroyed by now.”
I asked him what the major reason is that he thinks the process is taking too long, to which he replied, “The Americans are too nice.” He blamed America’s niceness in great part on the subterfuge of the American media.
I agreed with him, and we talked about the staged incident in the last week or so where Iraqi soldiers came into contact with thugs from Muqtada al Sadr’s band of ruffians. Three of the Iraqi soldiers were kidnapped, tortured, and killed. The band holed up in a mosque with a large cache of weapons. The Iraqi soldiers, under direction from Americans, attacked the mosque, killed several of Muqtada’s ruffians, took several captive, and freed several hostages, as well as capturing the weapons cache. Meanwhile 2 miles down the road another mosque was staged with about 20 dead bodies (likely that the Sadr Militia themselves had killed). Muqtada’s people contacted the American press and told them that US soldiers had killed these 20 innocent people. When faced with conflicting accounts, just who do you think the American press believed? If you said Muqtada, go to the head of the class.
This and several other propaganda incidents, as well as the Abu Ghraib scandal, have made it difficult for American soldiers to operate effectively in Iraq. Our rules of engagement have become extremely limited, causing greater danger to American soldiers and Iraqi civilians as a result.
The interrogator that I talked to says he has seen many of the same insurgents over and over again in his detention facility, but because they know how to play the game, the Americans are forced to let them go, even when guilt is rather obvious. “I think they should turn detainee interrogation over to the Iraqi army,” he said. “They are not worried about public opinion. They would make sure that these insurgents don’t keep getting let off.”
A side effect of the perceived nicety of the Americans is this, according to my acquaintance. Iraqi judges, in fear for their lives, give only the most lenient of sentences to insurgents who make it far enough through the system to actually be convicted. If the American soldiers were allowed to fight and defend in a manner commensurate with the problem, this would give more courage to the justice system.
My conclusion is this: if an Iraqi American can see that the US media doesn’t tell the truth about Iraq, can you see it? The American media is complicit, by their misrepresentation of the facts, in the deaths of a plethora of American soldiers, as well as Iraqi soldiers, police, and civilians.