IRAQ, Not Wanting To Stay, Not Able To Leave
By Marshall Adame
In 2003 the US lead Coalition came into Iraq to liberate the Iraqi people, capture and destroy the confirmed weapons of mass destruction, including possible nuclear capability, and overthrow a brutal tyrant who brutalized his people, led genocide in his own country and invaded his neighbor.
In 2004 we had thrown out the tyrant, who deserved it anyway, and were now battling the pro-Saddam Iraqi insurgency and the followers of the radical Shia cleric Moqtada Al Sadr while trying to establish the legitimate Iraq Government institutions to facilitate the fledgling Democracy.
In 2005 we were battling Al Qaeda in Iraq, led by Abdul Al Zarqawi in an effort to save the Democratic government from the scourge of the world wide terrorist movement led by Osama Bin Laden.
In 2006 we are now fighting the insurgency in an effort to fend off a sectarian civil war.
Sunni insurgents, Shia Militias, and corrupt Iraqi Government officials, all profiting from our presence, and all hoping to profit from our absence. In the middle, the Iraqi people, the vast majority of whom are not in support of Islamic extremism, sectarian isolation, religious theocracy, or violence in any form against anyone or any group. An innocent people, now living in a hell they had no part of bringing.
Iraq is not now, or in 2003, a country without professional organizations, associations, business structures and contractor networks. Iraqi engineers, construction contractors, lawyers, doctors, business managers, city planners and educators were present and readily available throughout Iraq. Almost none of which were accessed or utilized by the coalition in its effort to begin the rebuilding of Iraq. Instead outside interest we brought in from the US, Great Briton, Kuwait, Turkey and other countries to fill all the essential requirements that Iraqi citizens could have filled. The leadership of Paul Bremmer was a shallow and failed leadership in this regard. The point being, from the very beginning we put the Iraqi people at arms length and have, to this day, kept them there.
During my three years in Iraq I have rarely seen Coalition inclusion of the Iraqi people to any degree or for any purpose. In fact it has been official policy to exclude Iraqis from almost any coalition operation or endeavor. The Iraqi labor pool has been all but ignored. Third County Nationals have been shipped in by the thousands to work in positions that should have gone to the people we came to Iraq to rescue, the Iraqis. The Iraqis who are allowed to work on any coalition Forward Operation Base (FOB) or, any coalition area around the airport in Baghdad, work as janitors and maintenance workers and are escorted at all times by armed guards. The only exception to this, I am aware of, is the US Embassy where hundreds of Iraqis are employed and are allowed to come and go without escorts of any kind. There has been no incidents of violence by those employees.
We, the coalition, made it crystal clear, by our actions, from the start that they, the Iraqi people, were not to be trusted. In our doing so, the Iraqi people were left without guidance, assistance, friendship or direction. The insurgents and militias were more than happy to fill the void left by the coalition and they did.
Each Minister in the Iraq government is a member of a political or social party. In Iraq every party has its own militia or security force to do its bidding. The militia and security groups are operated like a mafia. Chaos is the environment they need to operate profitably. They benefit from the chaos by filling in social authority roles the government is not able to fill. From the beginning the coalition recognized this fact and actually, in some cases, considered it a “stabilizing” element within the population. The coalition, absurdly reasoned that these non-governmental forces would diminish as the Iraqi government became more able to perform its governmental and social responsibilities.
Today the very people responsible for bringing social order, under the authority of government, are themselves profiting from the status quo and have already shown their reluctance to reign in the forces which have enabled them to prosper while the population suffers greatly. This unity government left to develop itself with little or no guidance from its US Mentors is more like a mafia than a government. There are two Deputy Prime Ministers and twenty Ministers in Nuri Al-Malikis government (complete list at the end). If one were to know the net worth of each Minister prior to being appointed and their net worth today, I think that would provide the graphic example of what I am talking about.
The Ministers? With few exceptions Iraqi men, some who, prior to April 2003, did not even live in Iraq and in some cases had not been in Iraq for over 20 years and most unknown to the Iraqi people at large. We left these former exiles, with little or no government experience or history, to decide how to start the government for an entire country while we stood there providing all the necessary assets and almost none of the guidance. Family and relatives were hired first.
Corruption was a natural derivative of this concoction of untested and primarily unknown players who we brought into Iraq to tell us what to do. To some degree, even the Iraqi people had no idea who these new leaders were that America brought into Iraq to lead them.
The early failure of the Coalition to maintain constant communications with any level of the forming Iraqi government and leadership was wholly avoidable. The coalition did not initially create working circumstances which physically included the Iraqi leadership and middle management in the daily coalition planning and status sessions. Had they done this, a cohesion, or partnership may have resulted that does not exist today and has never existed. Even today, it is rare to find any middle level Iraqi in a planning or staff meeting with coalition officials.
Although Iraq has thousands of registered attorneys, very educated and experienced in Iraqi law, common law and jurisprudence, there is not a single Iraqi lawyer on the staff of the US managed Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) in Iraq which has the responsibility of mentoring and advising the provincial governments in “Rule of Law”, Iraqi law.
In the Iraqi leadership planning and strategy groups there are few or no coalition members on a regular basis. The Iraqis did not create this separation from the beginning, we did. We set them up in their own world and we had our own. We rarely included the Iraqi leadership in decisions effecting their country, whither the decision was minor with insignificant consequences, or serious with possible huge impact on the Iraqi people. We lived in an “inform” mode; we informed the Iraqis of decisions we made for their country.
At one meeting I attended in Iraq during 2006 a senior British Commander suggested that the Basrah Militia, loyal to the radical cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, were a stabilizing force in the South. Hearing this, an American Army General sarcastically asked the British General if he thought that “order” being accomplished through kidnapping, terror, murder and intimidation should be considered as “stabilizing” by the coalition. The British General, although not replying, had already made it clear what the British considered acceptable for the Iraqi citizens. It appeared, at that moment, the British were more than willing to allow the militias and the terrorist to define what is acceptable for the Iraqi people throughout Iraq in exchange for less British engagement with the enemy. I thought it sad, at least for those in the South of Iraq where the British are primarily responsible for protecting the Iraqi population; the population who were supposedly rescued in 2003 and who met the arriving British forces as heroes and liberators. How easily we forget.
In 2003 the objective was good and the intention was honorable. It is today. Unfortunately the good motives needed a plan and the right leadership to carry the plan out. The good Iraqi people deserved at least that much. The result of our poor leadership planning and failed intelligence has costs thousands of lives and has inflicted untold misery, fear and suffering upon an already repressed and fearful people. Iraq was never a threat to our national security. It is now. The Reverend Robert Schuler once said “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”. He was right.
What now? Where do we go from here in Iraq? The only correct course now is to motivate and assist the Iraqi military forces in defeating the “terrorist”. We should assist the Iraqis in healing the wounds that have divided them as they have never been divided. The Iraqi Prime Minister needs to dismiss any Minister who is not above reproach and replace them with former Iraq civil servants. For that to occur, the Iraqi government themselves would have to want it. They do not.
The Iraqi people want peace. The Iraqi government officials, because of corruption and the benefits it brings them, have no motivation to change the status quo. For example, the former Minister of Interior (Bayan Jabor), up to his neck in corruption and “murder through death squad” accusations simply left the Ministry of Interior and was appointed the Minister of Finance! Additionally, if one was to walk into the Ministry of Health today in Baghdad, he would see a large portrait of the radical cleric Moqtada Al Sadr who is credited with the deaths of many Americans as well as Iraqis. I wonder how much assistance goes to the Sunni areas directly from the Ministry of Health.
We can’t stay and we cannot leave without risking a bloodbath. The blood of Iraqis who supported the coalition, specifically, who supported the Americans. They trusted us and would most certainly be killed in revenge for having done so. The blood of all the American soldiers, my own son included, demands justice for the Iraqi people who are being slaughtered on a daily basis. We, The United States of America, are responsible for bringing this upon them. We now must see it through and have faith that right is on or side.
Those clamoring for America to simply pack up and leave Iraq, do not understand the deeper reasons as to why we cannot do that. Those insisting that we become terrorist in order to defeat terrorism have simply forgotten who we are. To become the thing we hate for reasons of expediency makes us exactly what they are, barbarians and inhuman.
Unlike the terrorist, we respect human life and are willing to risk ourselves in order to save the helpless. Terrorist are only willing to risk the lives of others. Those who love freedom cherish it for all. Terrorist only cherish freedom for themselves. Those who love liberty see a world of free people living in peace. Terrorist only see the man in the mirror.
At heart, I am the forever optimist. I believe that there is a way to redeem what we have helped to bring about in Iraq. The vast majority of Iraqi people are resilient and longsuffering. They do understand the greater good means that forgiveness and tolerance will be necessary to bring about peace in their country. The Iraqis know that the coalition did not anticipate that those assisted to power by the US would turn so quickly to the corruption that would bring them easy riches.
Iraqis in Baghdad know that the Prime Minister is the leader of the “Green Zone”, while the rest of Baghdad is ruled by the militias and by the corrupted Iraqi Police (IP) who apparently are themselves the Shia death squads, long rumored to act at the behest of the former Minister of Interior Bayan Jabor, now the Minister of Finance. Many Iraqis have told me that the coalition should never have initially allowed the new government Ministers the free hand to do as they pleased. It was not time to allow the Iraqi government to begin dictating Iraqi affairs. They were right and we simply failed to hear them. Now is the time to listen to the people of Iraq. Now is the time to help them in ways that will reach the common man and woman on the street. The Iraqi people need to be motivated to turn on the militias who rule them through fear and intimidation. Now is not the time for America to cut and run from Iraq, but it is time for America to start the reduction of forces. The Iraqi government have greatly contributed to their current situation. Let them be the greater part of it's solution.
Current Iraq Council of Ministers
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih
Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zobaie
Interior Minister Jawad Bulani
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari
Defence Minister Qadir Obeidi
Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani
Electricity Minister Karim Waheed
Minister of Planning Ali Baban
Higher Education Minister Abd Dhiab
Minister of Municipalities Riad Ghareeb and Public Works
Finance Minister Bayan Jabor
Minister of Water Resources Abdul-Latif Rashid
Minister of Environment Narmin Othman
Trade Minister Abdul Falah al-Sudany
Transport Minister Karim Mahdi Salih
Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Mahmoud al-Radi
Human Rights Minister Wijdan Michael
Health Minister Ali al-Shemari
Minister of Construction and Housing Bayan Dezei
Education Minister Khodair al-Khozaei
Agriculture Minister Yaroub al-Abodi
Justice Minister Hashem al-Shebly
Culture Minister Suleiman al-Jumeily
Minister of Science and Technology Raed Fahmy
Minister of Displacement and Migration Abdul Samad Sultan
Minister of Youth and Sports Jasem Mohammed Jaafar
Minister of Industry Fawzi Hariri
Minister of State for National Security Affairs Shirwan Waili
Minister of State for Governorate Affairs Saad Taher al-Hashemi
Minister of State for Civil Society Affairs Adel al-Assadi
Minister of State for Women's Affairs Faten Mahmoud
Minister of State for Tourism and Antiquities Liwaa Semeism
Minister of State for National Assembly Affairs Safaaeddine al-Safi
(NOTE: This article was originally written in September 2006)
About The Author
Marshall is a retired US Marine Vietnam veteran who became an aviation management/logistics consultant in 1992. He worked in the Kuwait recovery of 1992-93 and was the senior aviation logistics manager for Kaman Aerospace in their Egypt US Government Aviation assistance programs for four years.
Marshall has been in Iraq since 2003 where he was the Coalition Airport Director for Basrah International Airport, later VP for Aviation development with The Sandi Group Int’l, and a Department of State US Advisor for logistics to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior.
Marshall’s current assignment in the Department of State is with the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) where he is on the staff of the National Coordination Team (NCT) in Baghdad, Iraq.
Marshall, 54, and his wife Becky (a 3rd grade teacher) have been married for 37 years and have four children, Paul, Veronica, William and Benjamin, and eleven grandchildren.
Two of their sons, William and Benjamin, have served in Iraq in the US Army. William was wounded in action on July 2nd 2006. Marshall and Becky reside in Jacksonville North Carolina. firstname.lastname@example.org
Marshall is a likely 2008 Democratic candidate for Congress from the 3rd District of North Carolina and is a strong supporter of John Edwards for President.