Some of the people who ran and splashed and waded through the canals of New Orleans were looking for food and water; others were smashing, grabbing, raping and pillaging. Such things happen in the absence of order, says Rumsfeld. Such things happen in America, such things happen in Iraq.
The US has had little success in building stable governments in areas that are chaotic not because of an armed, organized political resistance, but because of anarchy, punctuated by warlords, loosely affiliated gangs of criminals, savage tribes and people using ancient religious disputes to seize power.
Those of us old enough to remember a rather trite movie from 1957 titled Something of Value, based on a book of the same name by Robert Ruark about the Mau Mau insurrection in Kenya, might remember this quote, allegedly an old African saying:
“When you take away the customs, culture and religion of a people, we better replace it with something of value.”
To be fair, that’s just what the Bush junta thought they could do in Iraq by toppling Saddam along with his statues, but whatever those values might contain beyond that nebulous Bushian “freedom” may never be known if our enterprise there is, as I fear, doomed to failure.
Having read an encomium at World Defense Review to the journalist Steven Vincent who was brutally murdered in Iraq last month, I was inspired to go to the National Review and look up some of his reporting from Iraq. The Iraq he pictured is not at all like Vietnam in the '60s, but more like Somalia or Haiti--places where our failure was just as decisive.
For the truth is, there is no Iraqi "resistance." Not, at least, in the traditional manner evoked by the word: a disciplined insurgency intent on seizing control of an unpopular government. In the same sense, there are no "guerrillas" forming a national liberation front on behalf of an oppressed people. Instead, Iraq is plagued by a volatile mixture of criminal gangs, tribal gunmen, and humiliated Saddamites who, for inscrutable and often conflicting reasons, pay impoverished farmers to plant roadside bombs that kill more civilians that Coalition soldiers — and who, if the price is right, will cease their "insurgency." The country also suffers from foreign-born Islamofascists who target Iraq's Shia population in hopes of rekindling a 14-century-old sectarian war. Listening to the BBC talk of Iraqi "rebels," or reading Reuters' claptrap about "guerrilla forces," I wonder — is there another conflict going on in this country I'm not aware of?
If his assessment is true, and the idea given us by the Bush Administration of an oppressed people yearning collectively for freedom but thwarted by evil insurgents, is false, do we really have the ability to give them anything of value to replace Saddam’s iron fist? With the institutions of our Republic being strangled by an impoverished treasury and eaten alive by ancient religious dogmas and amoral, warlord-like leaders battling for dominion, do we have anything of value to give?