Notes Book

Fighting Iraqis

President Shrubya tells us that he will leave Iraq if asked by the new government. He then tells us that most of the Iraqi officials he talks to tell him they think the US should stay until the Iraqi's learn how to fight. Given the President's tendency to carefully screen his domestic audiences, do we honestly think that any Iraqi who disagrees with his policies would be able to speak with our exalted leader? Would and Iraqi politician dare speak his true mind to our exalted leader?

Let's get this straight. The Iraqi's have killed around 1300 members of the US army and injured thousands more. The Iraqi's have rifles, grenade launchers, and bombs detonated by devices rigged from remote controlled toys and cell phones, while the US army which has an abundance of expensive destructive devices.

Just picture in your mind the average Iraqi. From the images you see on TV you might imagine him to be a relatively young in pretty good shape jumping up and down and screaming with a combat rifle or a grenade launcher in his hand. Of course there are old Iraqi's an Iraqi women and children too, but somehow, none of these groups give me an impression of not understanding how to fight.

Now picture the American in your mind. You might imagine him to be overweight, middle-aged male, and probably sitting in front of a TV and drinking a beer. Of course there are some Americans who are young, and in good physical condition, but none of these give me an impression of knowing much about fighting—except, of course, for the persecuted minorities.

Perhaps we might have some chance of winning in Iraq if we could get the Iraqi's to teach us how to fight. We have no chance as long as we continue to believe our own fantasies instead understanding the real situation.

What we don't get about war is that it is a product of a struggle between cultures. Wars don't end until the different cultures involved resolve their differences. A cessation of formal war, much as it is to be desired, may not mean the end of the conflict. Since we in the US have the most fearsome army in the world, we would like to think that wars are won and lost by armies. Actually, armed conflict is a small part of the struggle between cultures.

There is a good case to be made that in any such struggle, all other things being equal, the culture with the largest standing army looses. And all things are not equal. There are one and a half billion Moslems, and about 300 million Americans. The Iraqi's have the home court advantage. Our supply lines are very long. We are loosing allies. It is quite possible that the Moslems might pick up Hindu or Buddhist allies, or even perhaps get support from South America, and of course, there is the famous Moslem birth rate.

A culture's ability to prevail in ethnic struggles may be inversely proportional to the size of the standing army. A large standing army requires high taxes and a very coercive government. Such a society has a high level of violence, and deceit is the handmaiden of violence. A society with a high level of deceit has a lot of communication problems because the simple act of talking or writing requires a lot more calculation because each member of society must try to keep track of all the lies he has told to everyone else. The real cutting edge of the struggle between cultures is the business deal or the family dinner table, or even the bedroom, and not the battlefield. In all these venues the moral high ground and the level of truth are the important strategic objectives.

In natural ecologies, populations of predators are limited by the physical reality that there must be certain numbers of prey to support each predator. In the world of human culture, successful people are people who work and live with successful teams, and successful teams have a minimum of deceit and violence. These communication realities provide limits to statist and other criminals.

The US government is actually trying to teach the Iraqi's not to fight, and that is a lesson both they and the US government should learn. I don't think it is any accident that the Shia Iraqi's have been a lot more peaceful in their resistance to the occupation, and it is the Shia's who are winning the battle for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.