AMERICA IN THE MIDDLE EAST
It has been one year since American forces crossed into Iraq and deposed Saddam Hussein
from power. Since that time, our soldiers and marines have performed magnificently. Search the history of the human race. Rarely in the history of the world have armies refrained from rape and rapine upon their defeated enemies. The conquest of civilizations by others in the past has always been characterized by armies that loot and terrorize those who remained behind the defeated armies. An example is the
“Thirty Years War” in Europe. Only in recent history, have armies shown humanity and mercy to the defeated.
The conduct of the much maligned Confederate Army of the United States during the War Between the States
stands out as an army under strict discipline and standards of conduct. There were isolated incidents such as the massacre at Fort Pillow
where Confederate troops committed atrocities against black Union troops. However, the main Confederate armies such as the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Tennessee conducted themselves with military honor during the four years of the war. The Union Army
was also a well disciplined army. There were isolated incidents in which Federal troops committed atrocities also, such as during Sherman’s March to the Sea
. Some Union soldiers who were later called “Sherman’s Bummers” were known to commit crimes against southern civilians. The “Bummers”
were searching for food for the thousands of soldiers marching with Sherman’s Army. The “Bummers” traveled alone in small groups and looted the farms and plantations of horses, mules, and any foodstuffs that they could carry back to the main force. Such incidents were few, but they did occur.
However, the Army under General Sherman did not engage in conduct to bring shame to their honor.
When I was a recruit in the United States Army
in 1959, I was sent to Fort Gordon, Georgia to attend the Provost Marshal General’s School.
I had never been to the South before. A few weeks into the training, our company were given a weekend pass. I recall the first time that I went into the nearest town, Augusta
This is the same town where the Master’s Golf Tournament is held each year.
The main street in the town had a very large memorial with statues of
military figures. Even then I had an interest in history and when I read the inscriptions on the memorial, I noted that all the figures were Confederate generals.
When I had occasion to converse with some of the citizens of Augusta, I recall that the memories of General Sherman and his
March to the Sea was still a vivid memory to the people of Georgia. In fact, the path of the Federal Armies was very close by Augusta. The burning of Atlanta
and other cities still evoked a resentment in the the minds of the people of the South in 1959.
What is the point of this? Well, if the memories of our Civil War
still impacts on us a hundred years after, what impact will the conduct of our troops in Iraq have in the Middle East? That is why it is so important that our troops behave in the manner that they have. The memories that the Iraqi people have of our soldiers and marines during the war will remain long after our armies have l left. Our soldiers and marines entered Iraq as liberators. They freed the Iraqi people from the terror of
Saddam Hussein. The joy that the people of Iraq displayed revealed their true feelings regarding the rule of Hussein.
Our armies were not there to conquer, but to liberate. That being said, it is now imperative that the United States of America transfer the duties of reconstruction
to others. There are a number of reasons why this must be done.
First: The mission to depose Saddam Hussein
and destroy any weapons of mass destruction has been accomplished. I believe that is a naive belief that he did not have such weapons. Where he removed those WMD is a matter for conjecture. He had plenty of time to move them during the period prior to the invasion. At any rate, there is no longer any such threat to the United States.
We have restored the basic infrastucture that we damaged prior to the invasion. Electricity and water have been restored. The police forces of Iraq and a new military have begun to take shape. I wrote a piece about RESTORING ORDER IN IRAQ in the Spring 2003 issue of NY Cop Online Magazine. In that short piece, I stressed how important was the need to use proven Community Policing models to rebuild the police forces of Iraq. The
Community Policing Model
should have been based on the recognized authority of the religious leaders of Iraq. Those leaders are Islamic leaders. They have the loyalty of the islamic people of Iraq. I warned of the danger of sending outside
“police” into Iraq. We have seen many so-called “police experts”
claiming to train and rebuild the police in Iraq. It is interesting to note how briefly they stayed in that wartorn nation. Yet, they continue to brag about their expertise in policing. It is doesn’t hurt to have political connections with the
Saudi Arabian royal family. We have also seen large numbers of “security”
personnel who are former military and police in Iraq. Some of these security forces have engaged in tactics that resemble those of a “private army”.
Some would also refer to the use of private forces as “mercenaries”.
It doesn’t take a genious to figure out that the Iraqis will resent the use of such “private armies” in their country. It is time that our regular military commanders in the field take full control of operations througout Iraq. If that requires sending more regular troops into Iraq, so be it. The
must not be usurped by civilian security forces. The good will that our soldiers and marines have brought to Iraq by their magnificent behavior must not be ruined by others.
Third: The Coalition
of the United States and other nations have been working to create the political framework to have free elections conducted in Iraq. The June 30th deadline for
transfer of power over to an Iraqi governing body is fast approaching.
Fourth: The Congress of the United States
has to date authorized the expenditure of almost $100 Billion dollars for the war in Iraq. We simply are unable to engage in “nation-building”
at this time in our history. Our economy here at home cannot support such staggering expenditures. The Nations that surround Iraq are rich in petroleum reserves. Billions of barrels of untapped oil lies under the sands of
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and United Arab Emirates. The OPEC Nations
have grown fat and rich on oil since the so-called oil crisis of the 1970s. They share not only the same ethnicity with the Iraqi People, but they are also of the same religious faith. Saudi Arabia and the other OPEC nations of the Middle East have stood by and watched as the United States sacrificed the blood of American soldiers and marines as well as the treasury of America in liberating their fellow muslims from the terrorism and tyranny of
Saddam Hussein. American blood and sacrifice has purchased liberty for the Iraqi people at a great price. What financial asssistance has the royal family of Saudi Arabia
and the other Arabic nations contributed to the rebuilding of their neighboring muslim nation? How many Arabic speaking soldiers and police have aided the United States and the Coalition in restoring water and electricity to the Iraqi people? How many Saudi Arabian doctors and nurses have responded into Iraq to give solace to their fellow muslims? How many orphans and widows have received assistance from the
Fifth: We have sent our National Guard
and Army reserves to Iraq to replace our regular Army forces. This does not bode well for the future of those units. The National Guard
is our “militia”. The primary role of the various state National Guard units is homeland defense. When we use up those forces to conduct foreign
wars, we are expending our last line of defense here at home. We have already nearly exhausted the men and women of our regular army in the ongoing War on Terror
. They are being used in the Balkans, Haiti, Afghanistan Iraq, South Korea and other areas of the world. We read of reports of regular Army
units such as the 10th Mountain Division and the 82nd Airborne Division
assigning brigades to separate theatres of operation. Units of the same divisions are apart in the field in Afghanistan as well as Iraq. If we continue to exhaust the fighting spirit of our regular Army, we risk much. Already, there is talk of a return to the
Draft. I can assure you that if we use up our National Guard and Army
Reserves, we will have little choice to maintain our military strength.
Sixth: The idea that we can create a “democratic” Iraq
modeled after the United States of America is not a realistic goal. Why? When we overturned the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi people rejoiced in
the streets. We saw the Kurdish people in northern Iraq smiling and cheering the American Army. In the south, the majority Shi”ite Muslims also welcomed the American and British troops. In what we now call the “Sunni Triangle” or central area of
Iraq, the minority Sunni Muslim
areas were not so happy with the Coalition victory. A little knowledge of history can go a long way to understand what we are up against in the Middle East. For instance, do the Islamic Iraqis believe in our concept of
“separation of church and state”? Do they want a secular government similar to the government of Turkey? To answer that question, examine the recent political trends taking place in Turkey. The recent elections there
have shown large gains by Islamic fundamentalists. In traditional Islam, there was no separation of Islam from the political framework of their
governments. Our insistance on such “democratic”
ideals will not be successful at this time in history. Perhaps in future years, we will see such changes in the Islamic nations of the world, but for now, it is not a reasonable hope. For now, the Coalition must insist that the Iraqis take charge of their government. They must assume full responsiblity for the actions of their citizens. The Islamic
leadership of Iraq must be placed in a position that they are accountable for the conduct of their followers. They must not be allowed to use the presence of American and British troops as well as the other
Coalition forces as a excuse for the violence and terrorist acts that are becoming a common occurrence.
So what will be the “exit strategy”
for the United States? How can we extricate our troops from Iraq?
We are being told to expect our Army to remain there for “years” to come.
What happens if we are faced with another crisis in the Pacific area? Do we really have the forces and treasury to be the “policeman of the world?”
The long term answer to the War on Terror
will not be a political one, but an economic one. The engine that drives the radical islamists is our need for energy. Our presence in the Middle East is required to keep our oil supplies open. If Saudi Arabian oil is cut off to America and Europe, the consequences will threaten our very existence. If we can wean ourselves off
petroleum and engage in a maximum effort to change over to another form of energy to fuel our homes and vehicles, we can save western civiliization and at the same
time save the world from the spectre of the War on Terror.
Copyright 2003 Edward D. Reuss
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