Monday, August 6, 2007

Why success is important and how it's going to happen

The message of Radical Islam is that Mulsims are suffering because the west has led them away from the Sunna--the path of Muhammed. We desecrate their lands by our mere presence. The riches of the world--i.e., oil--belongs to the people of faith and we are only in the Middle East to steal it from them. We are evil imperialists who wish to "impose" democracy on the faithful. Cooperating with us will only lead the faithful farther away from Allah, further impoverishing his people and continuing to cause suffering and hardship.

Iraq is western civilization's exercise in proving everything the imams tell Muslims is false. If we are ever going to defeat radical islamic terrorists, we must do so by breaking the back of the message of radical islam.

The country sits in the heart of the ancient Caliphate. Iraq is home to some of Islam's most significant religious and historic shrines. A few of the most important battles in the history of the region were fought in the Mesopotamian region. There are few places in the Middle East with greater significance to Islam than this ancient and storied land.

The United States and its coalition partners have established a secular democracy in Iraq, with millions of Iraqis voting in free elections for the first time in history. The region's only other "secular democracy" is Turkey, but the Turkish military enjoys independent status in that country and democratically elected governments have been overthrown by military coup. Iraq's form of government places the military firmly under civilian authority. It is a free and sovereign nation now, with duly elected officials serving the people who elected them--as best they can amid a wicked insurgency.

The coalition is also spending billions repairing and upgrading the country's infrastructure. The effort to restore Water, electricity, roads and bridges, schools, hospitals, teaching facilities, oil infrastructure, even telephone and cell service is being financed by the IMF, IRRF and other international funding sources. The purpose of this undertaking is to demonstrate to the Muslim world that the west is committed to improving the lives of Muslims, not destroying them.

This is why succeeding in Iraq is so important. As westerners, we know the truth about western-style democracy. It's not the perfect system of governance, but it's the best one man has. A government that serves by the consent of the governed is the only system that allows mankind to recognize and thwart tyranny. Democracy has made its share of mistakes, and some of those mistakes have led to human suffering. But the human suffering that occurs under tyranny is no mistake. The oppressed are always and everywhere the target of totalitarianism. People suffer under tyrants because the tyrants want it that way.

For the first time since Saddam was ousted from power, the US and Government of Iraq are fighting the counterinsurgency as a counterinsurgency. It is doing so under the capable leadership of General David Petraeus, the architect of the surge and the Army's Field Manual 3-24, Counterinsurgency. The doctrine being followed calls for reconciling segments of the population who are reconcilable, convincing them to join forces against the common enemy: Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda has made this a fairly easy sell. Their record of indescribable cruelty is well known to the tribal leaders who once looked to Al Qaeda as an ally.

The process of reconciliation occurs from the ground up. Nouri al-Maliki's government can no more institute reconciliation than a string can be pushed up a hill. That process has to come at the tribal and local levels. Neighbors have to come to the conclusion that their best ally against tyranny and oppression is their neighbor.

In a post about Clausewitz's "Culminating Point," I mentioned three developments in Iraq that showed how the process was working. The counterinsurgency has been successful in turning Sunni insurgent groups against Al Qaeda. Other recent developments, including this USA Today story, show how the coalition has convinced Sunnis to work with the Shiite-dominated government, as well as gaining the cooperation of Sunni and Shiite groups together. The goal calls for building consensus at the grassroots level, getting local and tribal leaders to put aside sectarian differences and work together.

Success in Iraq is important from a global security and historical perspective. That success will come about because ordinary Muslims, tired of violence and brutal repression, finally put down their weapons and start working with their neighbors to ensure peace. When the national politicians see that the base of their support seeks reconciliation, then reconciliation can occur at the national level. Reconciliation comes from peace, and peace comes when brothers make a pact of social order between them and work for common good.