FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Iraqi Security Forces: the Grand Illusion

When asked for their solution to the mess in Iraq, both of America’s presidential candidates–Tweedledumb and Tweedlephony–advance the same line: “train more Iraqi security forces.” Once enough Iraqis have been trained, they suggest, American troops can be withdrawn and our puppet Iraqi government can stand on its own six legs.

Unfortunately, the problem is not training, but loyalty. All the training in the world is worthless if the people being trained have no reason to fight for those who are training them. And a paycheck isn’t much of a reason, especially when the fellow Iraqis they are to battle are fighting for God.

As is so often the case in Fourth Generation war, the most useful way to look at the situation is through the prism of John Boyd’s three levels of war: the physical, the mental and the moral. On the physical level, American-trained Iraqi security forces may have advantages over their Fourth Generation opponents. American training in techniques is often very good. While we are not giving the Iraqis equipment as good as our own (a big mistake on the moral level), it may be better than that of their enemies. With salaries of about $200 per month, our merceneries are among the best paid men in Iraq.

Unfortunately for us, as soon as we consider the mental and moral levels, which Boyd argued are more powerful than the physical level, the advantage shifts. At the mental level, the Fourth Generation elements have already gotten inside the heads of Iraqi police and National Guardsmen. How? By killing them in large numbers. More than 700 have died in the past year, with many more wounded. A story on four recruits for the Iraqi police in the September 27 Washington Post quotes one of them as saying, “We’re walking dead men.”

That fear opens the door to the sort of deal that typifies Arab countries: the police and Guardsmen collect their paychecks, but look the other way when the resistance is up to something. In some cases, the deal can go further and create double agents, men inside the security forces who actually work for one or more of the resistance organizations. The same day’s Post announced the arrest of a “senior commander of the Iraqi National Guard” for, as the U.S. military put it, “having associations with known terrorists, for alleged ties to insurgents.” I suspect that if we arrested all the Iraqi Guardsmen who fit that description, Abu Ghraib would again fill to overflowing.

At the moral level, the position of the Iraqi police and Guardsmen is almost hopeless. They are being paid to fight their own countrymen and fellow Mohammedans on behalf of an occupying foreign power that is also (nominally) Christian. The fig leaf of Mr. Allawi’s “government” deceives no one, especially after last week’s pictures of Allawi holding hands with George Bush, the Islamic world’s Voldemort. Is it any wonder that, all their training notwithstanding, when it comes to fighting alongside American forces the Iraqis usually change sides or go home?

The American authorities in Iraq argue that thousands more Iraqis volunteer to serve in the security forces than we can train or equip. That is true, but the motive is not one that leads to much willingness to fight. As one of the Iraqi police recruits interviewed by the Post said, “Everyone wants jobs, and there really are no jobs but the police.”

Throughout history, armies of hirelings have melted at a touch when faced with people fighting for something they believe in. All the training in the world will make no difference. The core problem is the deepest taproot of Fourth Generation war: the “state” Iraqi security forces are being told to fight for has no legitimacy. When Bush and Kerry argue that we can avoid defeat in Iraq by training more Iraqis to do the fighting for us, they are indulging in a grand illusion.

WILLIAM S. LIND is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation

 

More articles by:

WILLIAM S. LIND, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.

November 19, 2018
David Rosen
Amazon Deal: New York Taxpayers Fund World Biggest Sex-Toy Retailer
Sheldon Richman
Art of the Smear: the Israel Lobby Busted
Chad Hanson
Why Trump is Wrong About the California Wildfires
Dean Baker
Will Progressives Ever Think About How We Structure Markets, Instead of Accepting them as Given?
Robert Fisk
We Remember the Great War, While Palestinians Live It
Dave Lindorff
Pelosi’s Deceptive Plan: Blocking any Tax Rise Could Rule Out Medicare-for-All and Bolstering Social Security
Rick Baum
What Can We Expect From the Democrat “Alternative” Given Their Record in California?
Thomas Scott Tucker
Trump, World War I and the Lessons of Poetry
John W. Whitehead
Red Flag Gun Laws
Newton Finn
On Earth, as in Heaven: the Utopianism of Edward Bellamy
Robert Fantina
Shithole Countries: Made in the USA
René Voss
Have Your Say about Ranching in Our Point Reyes National Seashore
Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail