LEADERS MISSING ROOT OF LATEST IRAQ PROBLEMS
Dennis L. Cuddy, Ph.D.
Most Shiites oppose the recent violence against Americans in Iraq, but also say they understand the frustration of the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr who has fomented it.
He is opposed to what he sees as an American "occupation" of Iraq. And he sees our "democracy" as bringing immorality (e.g., allowing pornography, etc.) when devout Muslims believe in enforcing Islamic law rather than "separation of church and state."
Some months ago, a man called me seeking advice regarding what to expect when he went to Iraq to take a relatively prominent position with the Coalition Provisional Authority there. I had written "Cover-up: Government Spin or Truth?" relevant to the war in Iraq (and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001), and warned him to watch for religious unrest.
The Shiites were relatively calm at the time, but were only being patient because they believed "democracy" meant they would be in control since they are the majority.
That American officials planning for post-Saddam Iraq misread the influence of religion is only one of the concerns that cause me to wonder if our leaders really are this stupid.
Some time ago, I wrote a column for Knight Ridder showing how our leaders misread Saddam's strategy of guerrilla warfare.
While Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had been on national television proclaiming that Saddam had not planned a guerrilla war, Major Gen. Charles Swannack in Iraq correctly observed that Saddam's placement of large arms caches all around the country meant he had planned exactly that.
It's inconceivable to me that our leaders thought only about 150,000 soldiers could police and provide security for the entire nation of Iraq. And where was the planning to quickly restore basic services like electricity and pure drinking water?
Our leaders also amazingly decided to disband the Iraqi army but with no immediate jobs program.
How did we think the 400,000 Iraqi military personnel were going to provide for their families?
When President Bush announced that sovereignty would be turned over to the Iraqis on June 30, I told the man who called me, and who is now in Baghdad, that this could be the worst decision of all. I explained that the Iraqis would not be able to provide security for the whole country by then, but if expected American force reductions did not occur after June 30, we would be seen increasingly by Iraqi nationalists as an unwanted occupier.
In addition, it is unclear, even to Republican senators such as Indiana's Richard Lugar, to whom we'll be turning over control in Iraq on June 30. And even more important, will they, as sovereign leaders of Iraq, be able to tell us what we can and can't do there? It's clearly a recipe for civil unrest.
Now, with the recent uprising, American forces are cracking down not just on the Sunnis who supported Saddam, but on the majority Shiites as well, with many civilian casualties that will not endear us to the Iraqi people. And we haven't even begun to try to disarm a majority of the Iraqi militia that arose after Saddam's fall.
I suggested to the man who called me for advice to keep a detailed diary. It should be quite revealing.
© 2004 Dennis Cuddy - All Rights Reserved
Dennis Laurence Cuddy, historian and political analyst, received a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (major in American History, minor in political science). Dr. Cuddy has taught at the university level, has been a political and economic risk analyst for an international consulting firm, and has been a Senior Associate with the U.S. Department of Education.
Cuddy has also testified before members of Congress
on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice. Dr. Cuddy has authored or
edited seventeen books and booklets, and has written hundreds of articles
appearing in newspapers around the nation, including The Washington Post,
Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He has been a guest on numerous radio
talk shows in various parts of the country, such as ABC Radio in New York
City, and he has also been a guest on the national television programs
USA Today and CBS's Nightwatch.
"When President Bush announced that sovereignty would be turned over to the Iraqis on June 30, I told the man who called me, and who is now in Baghdad, that this could be the worst decision of all."