Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Nationbuilding and Why Iraq is worth it

Lots of people (okay, lefty assholes) keep asking why we are here. Funny thing is, none of my soldiers have asked that since we got here. Now, a few raised their doubts before we came, and we explained our mission, etc. to them and they understood. But if you look back to hurricane Andrew, or any other disaster that’s happened within our borders (i.e. last season’s Big Snow/Flood/Forrest Fire) you’ll see some guys in funny green suits running around helping out. It’s one of the fibers in our common thread.

Sure, we train to kill. We train to close with and destroy our enemies using firepower, maneuver, and shock effect. We don’t train on how to build schools or put out fires or shovel snow. As far as floods go, anyone can fill a sandbag, but how many organizations can coordinate the logistical requirements to move hundreds or even thousands of people to a new area until it is safe to go home? If your answer is the red cross, who do you think they call? And is there any other organization that has the assets to do it?

(A side note here… Everyone thinks that VP Cheney, et al, is evil because he made so much money through Halliburton/Kellogg, Brown & Root. (Here we just call it KBR). This is the company that provided the military logistical support through Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo, and now in Iraq. Most of their employees are former military (for skilled labor) and Third-Country Nationals (mostly Indian/Sri-Lankan/Pakistani or any other nationality that drives cabs in the U.S.) Why would the same Army that fought and won in Desert Storm need to hire logisticians for the next war? Why couldn’t the military support itself? What Changed between Desert Storm and Bosnia?

The Presidency, for one. We fired the winner of that war and replaced him with the Jackass that lost Somalia, spent a Decade in Bosnia (He originally promised we’d be home by Christmas the same year (1995). We just left this year (Can you say Quagmire?)) And took us to Kosovo as well. (Remember when his intelligence service had our stealth bombers drop precision GPS guided munitions on the Frickin’ Chinese Embassy?)

The military also changed. Uncle Bill drastically reduced the size of the military. It takes a village to raise a child? Maybe. But it definitely takes the right people with the right equipment to feed/equip/move/train/and support a soldier. The military got smaller. We pushed the loggies into the Reserve and National Guard; their equipment deteriorated and wasn’t replaced, we deactivated entire divisions (and most of the logistical support is at the division level). VP Cheney and the Boys saw this and formed a company (Kellogg, Brown and Root) and financed it with their own money, to be able to provide worldwide logistical support to US forces around the globe.

They saw an unfulfilled need and they figured out a way to tailor an organization that would be able to respond to the gummints call when the gummint said “Oh shit, we cut too far back.” Its pure capitalism and I love it. Sure it’s expensive. Do you know what we pay these guys when we’re not deployed? Zero. But when we need them, we hire them. And they provide. During Desert Shield, soldiers were rationed food and water because we had to set up supply lines to get the goods to the soldiers. I went to dinner tonight and had a choice between Braised Beef, Ham, Cheeseburgers, Corndogs, Egg rolls, and Spaghetti. I chose a Strawberry soda and a Gatorade to drink. (I hate drinking water, fish pee in it). I could eat as much as I wanted. I seldom eat MREs, unless I know I won’t be back to the base camp for a couple days (yes, they’re that bad). The point is, stop bitching about KBR. Either the men deserve the best or they don’t. Name ONE OTHER COMPANY that could provide like KBR does. I’m sure the Army would love you. Then they could start a bidding war and drive the cost down. But I bet you can’t name even one.

Where was I? Oh yeah. Soldiers and helping. Nobody asks why over here. We have a job to do. Terrorists attack us, we kill them. They attack the Iraqi Army or Police, we help them kill the terrorists. (Stop calling them insurgents. Insurgents are Members of a political party who rebel against established leadership. A Terrorist is a label for one who personally is involved in an act of terrorism. Terrorist tactics may also be used by dissident groups or other non-state actors to achieve political ends or for purposes of extortion. Terrorism: The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence against people or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives. It may be splitting hairs, but I can see the difference.

The bottom line is that we see that we are helping these folks and most, if not all of us, want to help them. It doesn’t matter that they’re not American. It doesn’t matter that they look different, live different, or believe in a different God. (Or form thereof, if it’s the same god, after all.) They are in need, we fill that need.

So what does this have to do with Nation building and Why Iraq is worth it? We could find poor, starving, huddled masses in just about any state in the union. Why is it so important to be here in Iraq rebuilding their country into a democracy? I’ll give you five reasons: Syria, Jordan, Saudi, Iran, and Kuwait. These countries all border Iraq. They are all ruled by theocratic despots, tyrants, and other unseemly characters. We chose (arguably) the worst one in the Middle East and hunted him down, killed his children, and put him in the news in his underpants. We showed them that Americans have the power to do it to them, and more importantly, the will to do it.

We destabilized the entire region. Foreign Fighters are coming into Iraq to attack us. Why? Why do their governments support terrorists (covertly) and overtly pressure us to leave? What would they gain by a having a neighbor who is oil rich but has no infrastructure to pump out the oil?

Well, in the finest of Arab traditions, they could always invade and seize the oil fields (see Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Circa 1990). Or they could help their Muslim brothers rebuild their country. Or they could even accept them into their countries as refugees (Just like the Palestinians!)

So what are we doing here? Democracy is the key. People here (including [gasp!] WOMEN!) Voted in the last election. What would a democratic, oil-rich, America Loving country do to the demographic in the Middle East? Do you think it could inspire its neighboring countries to form democracies? (Like Mexico and Canada did after we showed them how cool it was to choose-your-own-adventure in life?) Do you think it could inspire people to even start to think that maybe the Imams and Muktars and Ayatollahs might be good at preaching but that maybe the Prophet should have included a chapter or two on Government and Economy in his teachings? Do you think that these other governments might see this as a threat to their power over their subjects, especially if their subjects see just how good freedom can be?

Can you imagine what would happen to Islamic fundamentalism if democracy spread from nation to nation? Democratic societies tend to force people to think for themselves. (Okay, the loony left is excluded.) Thinking for yourself leads to things like freedom. It’s a self-licking ice cream come. One feeds the other. Fundamental Anything tends to be bad, or at least weird. Didja ever see those folks in West Virginia who board themselves up in church and dance with snakes? That’s Fundamentalism for ya. We tend to use fundamental and radical in the same breath when it comes to islam. Believe it or not (and I still think it’s the religion of Peas, (not a spelling error)) they have Easter and Christmas Muslims just like we all get dressed up twice a year to go to church in the states. I don’t see thousands of asses up in the air five times a day everywhere I go here. Sure, they are a more religious bunch, but then their access to Cable TV and the Internet is pretty limited. Look how much more religious we, as a nation, were back when leave it to beaver was a contemporary TV program.

Man, I gotta lay off the caffeine; I can’t stick to a single tangent here.

Getting back to (de)stabilizing the middle east. So all the people see the New Iraq as a place to breathe free. And the DickTaters get ousted, and the Green robe of Islam they hide behind gets pulled away, and people start really reading their Qu’ran (Here we go again—Most Arabs learn to read and write by memorization. These folks have amazing memories and memorization skills. But the part they lack, almost to a man, is the ability to say “So what does it all mean?” Their analytical skills are incredibly weak. So sure, they know their Qu’ran. But they don’t have a depth of understanding of it. So they turn to their religious leaders to give it meaning. Same thing with our priests and pastors, except for the most part we’re just too lazy to try to figure out what JC and the Boys were trying to say, and why, and in what context that applies to us. Sit, Kneel, Stand, Sing, eat the wafer, drink the wine, genuflect, shake hands, compliment the pastor, get in the car, and get to the game! Sound like church to anyone?

Sixteen hundred fifty-five words and I haven’t gotten to the point. If democracy and capitalism works here, and spreads, then Islamofacism will fade. As people become free to choose and are no longer bound to follow a religion dictated by their governments they will become more open to different interpretations of the same teachings. (See Baptists, Mormons, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Methodists etc.) As capitalism grows and people gain greater buying power through increased income, they are much more likely to follow leisure pursuits. This leaves less time to dwell on why the US is so evil, and more time to figure out how to get under Amy’s Burka.

It’s (in a way) like the reverse of the domino effect espoused by Kissinger and others 40 years ago. Except communism doesn’t work, and so far, I can’t think of a capitalist democracy that is worth a damn failing.

I think that the reason the Lefties can’t figure this is that they can’t think strategically. They think tactically. It’s a way we differentiate in the military. Tactical solutions affect the here and now. He does this, I do that, the end result is this. Strategic solutions go much further into second and third order effects. Global impact vs. Local impact.

I may be looking at a logical conclusion where there was no logical solution when we started this great adventure, but it seems to make sense to me. Maybe POTUS had this in mind all along. Or maybe he’s a backwoods Texas bumpkin with a bone to pick with the guy who tried to kill daddy. Either way, we have a tremendous opportunity here to make the world a better place through our actions. Something the UN has yet to do. Its worth a shot. Does anyone have a better idea?

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