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Iraqis Deserve Better
Michael Ubaldi, November 12, 2003.

The continuing attacks by secular and fundamentalist terrorists are frustrating, destructive and disheartening, but the recent CIA report that's sure to be waved in the president's face for days to come is drenched in the same systemic bigotry that our intelligence agency has always harbored. To wit: Third World peoples will take violence, poverty and tyranny over a good job in a nice neighborhood any day of the week. Unquestionably, the problem of terrorists themselves gaining confidence from insufficient Allied pressure is obvious even to a layman like myself, and being corrected. But what to make of conclusions like this:

One senior administration official said the report warned that the coalition's inability to crush the insurgents is convincing growing numbers of Iraqis that the occupation can be defeated, bolstering support for the insurgents.

The CIA report raised the concern that majority Shiite Muslims could begin joining minority Sunnis in turning against the occupation.

The CIA believes Iraqis would rather step back into a police state where they can live in fear and silence for the rest of their days, with the added possibility of a foreign theocracy opening shop in Baghdad? The latest Gallup poll of Iraqis shows an understandable skepticism of Western intentions at such a trying time of early reconstruction and threat from the lawless. It has been tortured by Walter Pincus - whose frequent misrepresentation of news deserves as close a watch as Howell Raines - but in keeping with previous polls taken by Iraqis, the desire for freedom is overwhelmingly obvious:

A new poll of Iraqis in Baghdad shows a majority of them oppose the separation of religion and state in a new Iraqi constitution. Forty percent support it.

The Gallup Poll also shows that 86 percent of Iraqis in Baghdad believe a new constitution should guarantee freedom of religion.

And while 98 percent say a new constitution should guarantee freedom of speech, only 68 percent say a new constitution should guarantee freedom of assembly.

Those numbers do not describe the latter-day Viet Cong - complete with a "turning point" meme - that the leftist press appears to be hinting at. Neither Japan nor Germany were plagued, postwar, by an organized force dedicated to malice (consider that, the disgusting Nazis and militarists with more honor than terrorists). After seven months, however, each beaten country was experiencing its own destitution. Japan was midway through a terrible famine. So even without insurgents, progress cannot be expected to move faster than an eager crawl with political obstacles and setbacks every step of the way.

The insurgents are there, and show only occasional signs of decline while their attacks have jumped tremendously in profile and audacity. Has the West as a whole sorely underestimated the resolve of authoritarians in the Near East to fight dearly for their lust of domination? Yes, and the betrayal of free Iraqis to the awful fate that awaits in a country reclaimed by evil is what the Allies risk if necessary measures are not taken soon. But to consider the good people of Iraq so mercenary as to sell their souls back to slavery is more indicative of the CIA's hopeless worldview than anything else.

I MIGHT HAVE SPOKEN TOO SOON: But only to claim that Germany wasn't plagued by organized groups of murderers and thieves to the point where they were nicknamed - "Werewolves." I would still caution that the forces trying to destabilize Iraq seem to have far more tactical effectiveness and regional, cultural support than anything in Germany and Japan. Today's explosive, ballistic and telecommunicative technology only aids the insurgents in Iraq. Nevertheless, democratization has always been plagued early on by frightening, discouraging challenges. Glenn Reynolds links to postwar violence and social disruption in Germany reported by Justin Katz and the CounterRevolutionary. And I've excerpted accounts from historians about Occupied Japan more than once.

Justin's right: most commentators haven't a clue about American occupations. Why do I say that? Because I've barely scratched the surface of Japan's and many problems that have arisen in Iraq can be accounted for - or at the very least, put into some context other than mindless panic. Remember: just as we should be honest about the reconstruction, we shouldn't fruitlessly doubt.

ANOTHER ONE FROM THE CIA: In the New York Times, no less (requires simple registration):

The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Tuesday that prewar American intelligence about Iraq had been hampered by significant shortcomings, including what he called the C.I.A.'s unsatisfactory response to Congressional directives to improve its foreign language capacity.

...[A] senior Republican Congressional official said a significant amount of money allocated by Congress for the foreign language training of C.I.A. officers, particularly in Arabic, Persian and Pashto, had been redirected by the agency for other purposes during the last fiscal year.

An agency official who spoke on condition of anonymity said he understood that some of the money had been spent on computer-driven document translation rather than on training for individual officers.

That's what you call "hands-off."