View Full Version : 2 Views of Success--and a huge gap between them

Tom Odom
08-31-2006, 02:11 PM
Why I say "they don't think like we do"...this comes from the Chirtian Science Monitor--still the best foreign policy newspaper in my opinion--via the Early Bird.

How To Bridge Two Views Of Success In Iraq

By Janessa Gans

WASHINGTON -- In November 2003 as the insurgency in Iraq blossomed, I - as a US official in Iraq - tried to sort out the various actors, groups, and causes behind it. But in a meeting with top Sunni political leaders, it became abundantly clear to me that the American view and the Iraqi view about the causes were completely divergent. And that if we were ever going to help develop a sustainable democracy in Iraq, it was imperative that we analyze and understand the Iraqis' perspective and include that in any future solutions for the insurgency or the burgeoning sectarian conflict.

The following shows the divergent Iraqi and American views. Below, ways to reconcile them ...

1. (Iraq) The US toppled Saddam Hussein, but its troops humiliate us. Look at Abu Ghraib.

(US) We got rid of their brutal dictator, and they respond by attacking and killing us.

2. (Iraq) After Saddam left, chaos - looting and terror - claimed the streets of Baghdad.

(US) The people were reacting to newfound freedom after 35 years of dictatorship.

3. (Iraq) We have been told there are billions of dollars being spent on improving our lives, but we have yet to see it.

(US) We spend billions of our money to improve their country and reconstruct it. They are so ungrateful.

4. (Iraq) The world's most powerful army can't keep my neighborhood safe? This must be a conspiracy to keep Iraq embroiled in turmoil so they can stay and steal our oil.

(US) Suicide bombers are nearly impossible to detect and prevent. We're dealing with a savage method of warfare that we are ill-suited to fight.

5. (Iraq) The world's richest country does not fix the electricity grid or provide generators to alleviate our desperate plight. Yet, the Green Zone is lit up like a Christmas tree.

(US) We try practical projects, like rebuilding parts of the pipelines and electricity grid, and the insurgents continue to bomb them.

6. (Iraq) Iraq is a sovereign nation, but we believe the US still controls the reins and is holding us back. Look how the US Embassy occupies Saddam's presidential palace.

(US) Iraq has been a sovereign nation for more than two years. Why hasn't it accomplished anything? Why are the politicians so incompetent?

7. (Iraq) The only US presence we see is its heavily armed convoys careening through our streets, causing traffic jams and smashing or shooting anything that gets in its way.

(US) We are targeted wherever we go. Iraqis who cooperate with Americans are frequently targeted and killed by insurgents.

8. (Iraq) Sectarian politics and the ensuing strife is partly the Americans' fault for bringing religious parties to power when the Coalition Provisional Authority ran the country.

(US) We are the ones preventing a civil war by pressuring for a unity government and increased Sunni participation.

9. (Iraq) They speak constantly of democracy but no one has explained what it means and how it can work in our culture.

(US) The Arabs are not ready for democracy, as evidenced by their politics that are mostly based on sect rather than competence.