The soldiers being trained in Iraq are unable or unwilling to be members of the “Iraqi” army or “Iraqi” police. They cannot be relied on, cannot be trusted, to fight alongside the American troops who are now doing almost all of the real fighting. (The Iraqis, of various kinds, have been great at kidnapping and torturing people of other various kinds, and then leaving their bodies, dismembered or intact, here and there throughout Baghdad and the rest of the country, but that’s not what one means by fighting.)
Nor can they be relied on, without the Americans being present, to actually behave semi-decently toward civilians or the prisoners they take, and furthermore, to do their fighting for an ideal called “Iraq.” That is an ideal that the American soldiers are imbued with (or at least they were until reality began to set in) far more than are those “Iraqis” who run away, or who fire wildly, or who show up only to pick up their paychecks but never for the real battles — and that takes care of a great many of them, especially of the Arabs rather than the Kurds. No, they are not fighting for “Iraq” but, when they fight at all, almost always for the possibility of inflicting damage on others who are not of the same sectarian or ethnic background. This ineluctable problem has been pointed out in many articles and in hundreds of postings at Jihad Watch for nearly three years. Many have been quite detailed.
Here is just one of the more recent examples — a mere 14 months old:
Iraq’s doomed police training
Paula Broadwell writes in the Boston Globe, with thanks to Hugh Fitzgerald.
IN SEPTEMBER 2003, the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs constructed the Jordan International Police Training Center outside of Amman to train Iraq law enforcement personnel. Sixteen nations provide a total of 352 police trainers for the center. The camp has a capacity to train 3,000 Iraqi police recruits in an eight-week basic police skills course and graduate 1,500 new police every month. New Iraqi police come away with a coveted paycheck ($150) and sufficiently trained and equipped to counter foreign intelligence operations, pandemic lawlessness in an anarchic society, and insurgents who target US troops or collaborators.
In April 2005 I had the chance to visit the center, the world’s largest international police training camp. I am a military officer and have been deployed throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, but this was one of the nicest training posts I have ever seen. However, the comprehensive training I witnessed was disheartening. The Iraq coalition constituency deserves to know why this mission is likely to fail.
There are three main reasons why these forces will never be ready to defend their country: The wary, uncommitted recruits are immature and lackadaisical about the mission; the parsimonious training is inadequate; and accountability once recruits return to Iraq is inconsistent at best and lacks the return on investment that one would expect.
The recruit pool. According to international instructors at the camp, the troops are often recruited from among intimidated teenagers or disillusioned, desperate unemployed men left with few job prospects in their chaotic country. We aren’t always getting the highest quality ”volunteers” because many of those have already joined the insurgency. Others are understandably concerned about their life expectancy if they join the police. In spite of most of the high-quality, experienced instructors, I learned that a clan relative of the Jordanian terrorist mastermind Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi was also an employee at the camp, adding an interesting element to operational security.
Return on Investment. Purportedly, about 40 to 60 percent of these graduates never actually join the Iraqi police force when they return from Jordan. They defect, taking their coveted pay and their new skills to the insidious insurgency, according to liaison officers in Iraq. Some are forced to give up the weapons they were issued at this camp to corrupt local police chiefs; these often end up on the black market. Others lose their firearms in insurgent raids on police stations. Sadly, too many are targeted immediately upon return to Iraq. Forty-six newly returned graduates on a bus were executed point-blank by insurgents this spring; more than 1,500 of those who have made it into the police force have died just this year…”
[Posted by Rebecca on August 30, 2005 01:19 PM]
Three subsequent postings under that thread elaborate upon the significance of Bradwell’s observations (I have slightly edited them here, for readability only; you can read the originals here to see that the substance of the analysis remains unchanged):
“This article points out the near-hopelessness of the situation. It is cruel to force the entire weight of the Administration’s misunderstanding of both Islam and Iraq onto the soldiers, the officers and men who are supposed to train “Iraqi” police and an “Iraqi” army when there is no such feeling for “Iraq” — not, at least, outside of a handful of people, the very handful of unrepresentative Iraqis whom, outside Iraq and inside, the Americans have met and assumed were the “people of Iraq.” But Rend al-Rahim Francke, Ahmad Chalabi, Kanan Makiya and all the rest had spent decades abroad. They were mostly well-off and well-educated and, whether Sunni or Shi’a, largely secular. For their own good and sufficient reasons, they wanted the Americans to depose Saddam Hussein. This the Americans did.
But these completely unrepresentative “Iraqis,” and the way they plausibly and pleasingly offered prospects of things to come in a Light-Unto-the-Muslim Nations Iraq, are not Iraq. The real Iraq, the Iraq that the soldiers have to deal with, is much more primitive and much more determinedly hostile to Americans — except insofar as they can be temporarily bought off, like a tribal leader here or there, by infusions of American cash. Are we to keep transfusing that cash to the endlessly corrupt “Iraqis”? And if so, what will we really be getting in return, save for a temporary cessation of hostilities in this or that small area of a large country?
In her discussion of the treacherous nature of the recruits, the author of the article for some reason does not mention so many of them who take the cash and the weapons and the training all supplied by the Americans, and then promptly join the most violent enemies of those same Americans. Then there is the intractable problem of Kurd mistrust of Arabs, of Shi’a mistrust of Sunnis (and both with good reason, solidly based on experience over a long period). Perhaps she had not been thinking on those lines. If she has the leisure to think at the Kennedy School this year (despite the Kennedy School, not because of it) perhaps she will take a moment to read Bat Ye’or on The Dhimmi, and even more relevant to Iraq, Elie Kedourie’s “The Chatham House Version.” One needs officers in the army to educate themselves about Islam and about Iraq. It is too bad it has to happen so late in the day.
[Posted by: Hugh at August 30, 2005 03:07 PM]
“The Iraqis won’t forget those who fought for them”
— from a posting above
“No, the Iraqis will be just as grateful, no doubt, as the Egyptians have proven to be over the past 25 years during which they have received $60 billion from the American taxpayers, or as the “Palestinians” have proven to be for the billions they received (“and somehow managed to misplace, so pretty please send us more right away to make Gaza bloom, because otherwise we might have to get nasty and that would be bad for the road-map and the two-state solution and….”). They have already forgotten what the Americans did for them, and are doing for them.
Oh, I’m not saying all Iraqis are like that. There is Kanan Makiya. That’s one. There’s Rend al-Rahim Francke. That’s two. There’s Ahmad Chalabi. That’s three. Gosh, I could go on all night, and I bet if I put my mind to it I could name all — what, 20,000 Arabs in Iraq who are genuinely grateful, and seem to understand the West and appreciate its ways. (The Kurds are another matter.) Why, of course they do — they’ve all spent at least 25 years in that West. But what about the rest of the Muslim Arabs in Iraq, the 20 million or so (deducting for the Kurds)? Out of those 20 million, let’s not stick to 20,000, but make it 50,000. No, let’s go wild — let’s say there are 100,000 Muslim Arabs (i.e. not counting the Kurds, and not counting the Christians who worked as the house staff — cooks, drivers, etc. — for Saddam Hussein and then did the same for the American generals and high civilians in the Green Zone) who are truly grateful.
Well, that just isn’t enough. That just is not enough on which to base a policy. There are some very nice Iraqis, and the Americans in Washington and in Baghdad have met every single last one of them. That’s what they have to realize. Emerson wrote something called “Representative Men.” Well, the problem with the Iraq policy is partly that it was based, and continues to be based, on “Unrepresentative Men.” And women too — like that girl who hugged the dead Marine’s parents at that Washington soiree. Sentimental, a crowd-pleasing, and the most unrepresentative Iraqi you could possibly find. Fun for the crowd, but cruel for the spectators at home, who were being offered the equivalent of a Potemkin-village Iraq.
[Posted by: Hugh at August 30, 2005 08:41 PM]
“After the dust settles we attack the winner…Is that so wrong?”
— from a posting above
Not wrong, but not necessary. The dust will not settle. The Sunni-Shi’a split will remain, with the fault line not along the Iran-Iraq border, but within Iraq. Let the Sunnis and the Shi’a receive outside help. The Shi’a help is likely to consist of basijis, True Believers. Those who hate the Islamic Republic of Iran will be glad to see them go, as cannon fodder, making their own task of undoing the Islamic Republic easier. In the mess, the Americans can concentrate on destroying or heavily damaging Iran’s science project — which must take precedence over everything else.
The dust will not settle, and there will be no winner to “attack.” But there will be resources of all kinds, and upheaval of all kinds. And we want upheavals. We should welcome upheavals all over the Muslim countries, one damn upheaval after another, until the Infidels or enough of them have taken their crash courses in Islam, and a new understanding of what needs to be done can be shared between North America and Western Europe. The spectacle of intra-Muslim warfare, with the traditional ways of that warfare (no more American kid-gloves, Geneva-convention stuff — that’s for Infidels), will do much to spoil the Da’wa pitch that is being made to vulnerable Infidels in the West who are casting about on a spiritual search, or on a search for some ready-made vehicle to express their alienation, even hatred, of their circumambient society — and along comes Islam to fit the bill.
No, the dust won’t settle. It can’t. But American troops right now are being asked to move heaven and earth to create an “Iraqi” army, and an “Iraqi” police, and to move heaven and earth to make sure that Sunnis and Shi’a create a democratic Peaceable Kingdom. Why? Why would that help us contain Islam? What is the sense in this? It is machiavellian in reverse. How ignorant of Islam and of Iraq must some of the policymakers be, and how blind to the possibilities (blind because willfully timid) of other, more effective, less profligate, policies?
[Posted by: Hugh at August 30, 2005 10:30 PM]
A good deal, perhaps almost everything, that can or needs to be said about Iraq has already been said at Jihad Watch. This includes: what was rational and justified, and what was not, in both the initial invasion and then in what that invasion and occupation turned into; why the war was won long ago (and “victory” claimed on these pages); why the “Iraqis” do not exist and in any case will never compromise as required with one another, and why this is not a Bad Thing but a Good Thing; and how ethnic and sectarian fissures and economic fissures are already present in Iraq — they do not have to be created or even encouraged by Infidels (and the third main fissure, that between haves and have-nots, may also turn out to be relevant). These fissures need only be exploited by the merest act: the act of withdrawal and thereby ceasing to prevent such fissures from growing and being acted upon, as they already are.
Press and Pentagon, to find what you want, on any topic you need, just google away. Saves time, saves effort. And just as the evidence suggests that more and more members of the press are not only visiting this site regularly and, not surprisingly, by dint of constant repetition certain themes have been introduced permanently into their consciousnesses, then the same can hold true for the Pentagon, even the State Department. At the Pentagon and State one hopes that those on the European desks will begin to express their anxiety about the islamization of Western Europe, and do battle over the right policy to be adapted toward Islam and the instruments of Jihad with those who, until now, have been in charge of such matters — that is, those who have been in charge, often disastrously, of the Middle Eastern desks. Why not just put whatever subject you are looking for into the Search Box, click, pull up, read, and then circulate, or crib if you wish, to your heart’s content?
That would cost nothing. It might save one hundred billion dollars. Or two hundred billion. But who’s counting? Who has the time to be so vigilant?