Kind of an idle question. I read Michael Yon’s latest dispatch which says things are getting better in Iraq. I hope he’s right, but I remain skeptical.
I do wonder about something though…
Our military has increasing moral authority in Iraq, but the same cannot be said for our government at home. In fact, it’s in moral deficit because many Iraqis are increasingly frightened we will abandon them to genocide. The Iraqis I speak with couldn’t care less what is said from Washington but large numbers of them pay close attention to what some Marine Gunny says, or what American battalion commanders all over Iraq say. Some of our commanders could probably run for local offices in Iraq, and win.
And its a point Yon himself thinks is important… he ends his dispatch with this:
Large numbers of Iraqis detested us after the prisoner abuse stories, and some over-the-top attacks on Fallujah, for example. But through time, somehow the American military has managed to establish a moral authority in Iraq. It’s not the only authority, but the military has serious and increasing moral clout. In the beginning, our influence flowed from guns, or dropped from the wings of jets. Later it was the money. Today, the clout still is partially from the gun, and definitely the money is key, but there is an intangible and growing moral clout and it flows from an increasing respect among Iraqis for our military. Washington has no moral clout in Iraq. Washington looks like a circus act. The authority is coming from our military. The importance of this fact would be difficult to overstate.
Assume he’s right. What does this mean for the future of Iraq? To me, it either means the US military must remain there for a very, very long time or there must be some way to transfer that moral authority to some Iraqi institution. If an Iraqi institution is capable of, shall we say, absorbing through osmosis some of that moral authority the US military has developed, presumably it would be the military and/or police. Leaving aside questions of how, um, ethnically cleansed branches of the military and/or police happen to be at this time, is it a healthy thing for the moral authority of the country to be invested in the military and/or police?
I don’t know much about Turkey, but what I’ve read seems to indicate that the military does enjoy a reputation as being the most honest institution in the country. (Is that true? Am I way off-base here?) Are there other examples where this is true? And is it a good thing in the long term? What is the best case scenario for what Iraq will look like in ten years? Twenty?