Saturday, June 03, 2006

Michelle has today's example of why I read Strategy Page instead of the totalitarian apologists of the MSM.

About Those Iraqi Tribalists

Strategy Page has a nice update on the role of tribalism in Iraq along with a casualty update and even some historical perspective on the U.S.:

June 2, 2006: American troops are going to Anbar province in support of an
Iraqi operation that is going to try and seal Baghdad off from the Anbar towns
that still harbor terrorists (who send suicide bombers into Iraq.) At the same
time, police have arrested several senior al Qaeda leaders in the last week,
including Hamza Khair al-Aini and Samir al-Batawi. Interrogations of these two
have already led to raids on more terrorist locations.

While attacks in
Iraq are at their highest levels, American casualties continue to fall. Total
American casualties per month are down a third versus last year, even though
attacks are up about ten percent over 2005 (to about 85 a day). Americans have
improved their weapons, tactics and equipment much more rapidly, and
effectively, than has the enemy. People are shooting at U.S. troops more often,
but to less effect. Moreover, the quality of enemy fighters has declined, as the
more capable men, often former security men with long experience working for
Saddam, have either been killed, or, more commonly, fled the country. The big
change in the past year has been the massive movement of American and Iraqi
forces into largely Sunni Arab areas of central Iraq. Many of these towns have
not been under any government control since Saddam was overthrown in 2003. Now
the government is there, in force, and the former Saddam gunmen don't like it.
There has been a lot more shooting, but the Sunni Arabs continue to lose. This
is especially painful because many of the troops are Kurds or Shia Arabs, people
Sunni Arabs, from this part of Iraq, have long despised. It gets pretty ugly at
times, and many Sunni Arabs have come to see American troops as their
protectors, as the U.S. soldiers and marines are more disciplined and less
trigger happy than their Iraqi counterparts.

When an Iraqi says, "I am
an Iraqi," it has a different meaning from an American saying, "I am an
American." Kurds and Shia Arabs, like the Sunni Arabs, also have divided
loyalties. Family, tribe and religion come first, before national loyalty, in
Iraq. This is a problem throughout the developing world, and a major reason why
democracy is so difficult to establish. These divided loyalties shift gradually.
The U.S. became a powerful democracy partly because its citizens were all
immigrants, who had cut competing ties. Thus saying, "I am an American" is a
pledge of loyalty to all other Americans that is easier for a new immigrant,
looking for support in a new land, to make. An Iraqi saying, "I am Iraqi" is
much more likely to have a lot of other competing loyalties. Ask an Iraqi what
tribe or clan he belongs to, and he will tell you, often with a tone of pride.
Ask an American the same question, and most often you will bet a blank stare.

Iraqis know that they have to develop a national loyalty to go with
their national identity, because without it, Iraq will always be torn by
disorder and feuds. Many Iraqis also know that such an identity is not alien to
the region. Iranians and Turks have had such a national identity for centuries.
So also do people like the Egyptians. Tribalism and sectarianism are not eternal
curses. The people in question have to decide which loyalty, in the end, is more
important. This is a struggle that gets hardly any media attention at all, but
is at the heart of the current violence in Iraq. The war won't be over until
most Iraqis agree to become Iraqis.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Power Line has an idiotarian innumeracy update. My baseline post on idiotarian innumeracy is here and I am overdue for an update. Watch this space...
Has our latest Chamberlain redux bought us some Sino-Soviet backing in our Iranian fiasco? Or just hastened the Tinfoil Apocalypse? Somehow I suspect we'll find the goalposts moved again when next we look up. Call me a cynic realist.
The world according to Hitch...
TODAY'S EURABIA REPORT: "We in America should take note of the looming end of this once seemingly endless summer. We've been there, done that with this beloved continent all too many times before."
LEDEEN FISKS THE HOJJATIEH-IN-CHIEF: "The Spiegel journalist doesn’t have the wit to ask Ahmadinejad why jihadis like him base their actions on events that took place centuries ago, and then have the chutzpah to condemn the Germans for feeling guilt about the actions of their parents."