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March 23, 2007

The Seven Pillars and the Cultural Divide in Iraq

Stormwarning's Counterterrorism has a post up on a matter that I've long considered to be one of the most important constraints on our winning in Iraq: Our demonstrated inability to understand the cultural construct of the people there, especially our lack of understanding of the pre-eminence of the tribes and warlords of Afghanistan, and certainly, the desert culture of the Bedoiuns in Iraq (as in much of the Muslim world). As SC points out, "It is written that the Bedouin follows a strict order of life in which he pledges his total allegiance to his family, clan, and the tribe: I against my brothers, I and my brothers against my cousins, I and my brothers and my cousins against the world."

Understanding of the complex issues that face our Nation in the field(s) of battle cannot ignore the existing societal and cultural context of the countries. If we continue to ignore them, and continue to flex with military might instead of understanding, the outcomes may be quite different than desired.
As does SC, I define "victory" in Iraq as leaving Iraq in the hands of a stable government, and after reading the seven lessons (or pillars) of Iraqi culture (written by Lt. Col.(P) Craig T. Trebilcock) that are described in SC's post, I find little to disagree with. Read them yourself here ...

As for that with which I disagree with in SC's post, I strongly believe that the surge is a useful and necessary step in accomplishing victory in Iraq, and this view is shared by people I know on the ground in Iraq and who see action in the streets of Baghdad daily. Treblecock believes that the answer to the riddle in Iraq begins with a "political change Washington, ... not a military buildup in Iraq." My view is that one must accompany the other, we must recognize and address the influences of Iraqi Bedoiun culture in juxtaposition with establishing and maintaining security in cooperation with an increasing Iraqi assumption of security enforcement.

Related: The Modern Seven Pillars of Iraq was written by LT. COL.(P) CRAIG T. TREBILCOCK, U.S. Army Reserve

Posted by Richard at March 23, 2007 11:11 AM

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