Response to Recent Ramadi Comments - 06.07.2006

Pete, bAb, and others, I’m making this a full post, as my comment went quite a bit long.

One of my sources in Ramadi has tried to explain to me how the governor, who has has around 30 attempts on his life, is not accepted in the city.

At the end of the day, he says it came down to the fact that, though the Governor had some level of tolerance from the tribe, he failed to live up to his responsibilities, and is no longer accepted as a legitimate authority.

Its important to understand that, despite the media’s portrayal, Saddam did not necessarily have direct control over even the middle area of Iraq. (below the north and above the south no-fly parallels)

Some of our grandparents(and great grandparents!) were alive when Iraq was not a state. The idea that somehow the Westphalian state model exists in Iraq just because Iraq’s western educated elites and those of the international community created a state, is really absurd.

Tribalism has existed in Iraq much longer than European State ideals.

I really feel that Iraq’s resistance/insurgency/terrorists/militias are not examined properly or with enough complexity in the media.

I get the impression that the situation Ramadi finds itself in has more to do with miscommunication and misteps by the Coalition forces and the Tribes, and less to do with the influence of Al Qaeda and others.

That said, I think its a certainty that Al Qaeda operates in force in other parts of Iraq, and is certainly a large piece of the puzzle.

I think the definition of “civilians” is also incredibly malleable. I’m working on another piece for IPS about the relationship between civilians, fighters, and the US military in Ramadi, I hope that will shed some light on this topic.

We all have our own definitions, the US military brings its definitions from the ROE, or Rules of Engagement. The UN has its own definitions, and of course the rest of us all have our own ideas.

I’ve never made any illusions about my own feelings on “resistance.” Resistance, as an idea, is clearly legitimate, but we never deal with a utopian ideal, we deal with what we have. Unfortunately, crimes have been committed on all sides, but I won’t be the first to ask Iraqis to lay down and die while their civil services are destroyed and bankers are put in charge of their country.

To misquote the Bush Administration, “We go to war with the resistance we have.”

When all is said and done, and the US project ends in Iraq, there will be alot of crimes still to answer for. Whether we’re talking about soldiers with US, Iraqi, or other nationalities, or civilians, or “amateur” guerrilla fighters, at the end of the day, things in Iraq will, pardon my french, fuck people up bad for a long time.

I’ll leave you with a quote from a friend of mine who’s now a Marine:

We’re professionals. We know that killing civilians is not only wrong on every level for us (morally, ethically, etc) - but it fucks you over in wartime situations. I mean, c’mon - we do this for a living.

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