Mike Renzulli

More About: Iraq

Fixing Iraq, Winning the War

Back in April, a video was posted on You Tube featuring Arizona Senator John McCain in which he asks the question: How would you fix Iraq? Unfortunately, there is no way to quickly fix the situation there. The country is the culmination of different consolidated regions created by the League of Nations and then acquired and governed for many years by the British. The majority of the country's population subscribes to Shi'ite Islam while other minorities are Sunni Muslims in the south, Christian sects scattered around the country and Kurds located in the west.
It's because of the people who subscribe to different ideologies that make up Iraq that civil war after the collapse of Saddam Hussein was all but inevitable. Not because Hussein was a stabilizing force (he was not) but because U.S. forces made the mistake of dismantling the country's military when Hussein's rule was ended. If U.S. occupation commanders had kept Iraq's military in place and identified elements within it sympathetic to us, they should have been put in charge of governing/policing the country. With a military junta or Pinochetesque strong man in place, the ability to establish a Westernized regime would have been easier. As a result of dismantling the Iraqi military, its former members became insurgents against U.S. and N.A.T.O. occupation forces. Taking all of this into account and the unrest that is occurring there, Vice President Joe Biden's soft partition plan to break up Iraq into 3 different states makes sense.
Overall, the fact that the issue of fixing Iraq has come up speaks to a larger problem of how the United States is conducting itself in the War on Terrorism. At the outset President Bush made bold declarations regarding terrorist nations as enemies in a global war but our treatment of the overall symptom that lead to regimes like Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan to begin with was not adequate. The Bush Administration resorted to pragmatism and appeasement instead of principled efforts to defeat the enemy in order to achieve its goals. Unless the United States takes not only the threat but the defeat of Islamic terrorism and the fundamentalism that fuels it seriously both of the aforementioned factors will be a never ending menace against us and our allies.
The best policy in which to defeat Islamic totalitarianism was how the United States conducted itself against Japan during World War II. Ayn Rand Institute scholar John David Lewis pointed out this strategy and the correlation I am about to articulate in a speech he gave at an ARI conference in 2006 and in his book Nothing Less than Victory. Lewis states that Shinto in Japan played a central role in the militarism the country conducted prior to their defeat similar to present day examples of how fundamentalist Islam is the basis for terrorist movements and the official religion of states like Iran and Pakistan.
The Japanese people and their children were heavily indoctrinated. Shintoism was transmitted in media and taught in schools resulting not only in their revering Emperor Hirohito as the son of a god but also Japanese regarding duty to the state as their highest moral ends. Small wonder that this evil, illogical, and altruistic ethic was taken to the point where members of the Japanese military (including fighter pilots) were proud to conduct suicide missions against Allied Forces engaged in the Pacific.
When the U.S. was attacked by Japanese forces inspired by this mystical, war-like ideology our response was, rightly, ruthless and our occupation was conducted to root out the Shintoism that sanctioned Japanese imperialism which were also the result of religion and state unification. U.S. occupation policies outlawed the communication of Shintoism, censored any media that attempted to transmit it, shut down the country's manufacturing base so they could not rebuild their military, the Japanese were repeatedly reminded that their defeat was their fault, and members of the Japanese military were tried and convicted via military tribunals for war crimes. As a result of forcing the country to accept Westernization militaristic Shino was simultaneously purged, and present-day Japan is a secular, capitalistic country with an excellent standard of living. Today, Shinto is on equal terms with other religions devoid of any of the war-like theological underpinnings it had prior to Japan's defeat.
The laser-like focused strategy we used against Japan should be used in Iraq and Afghanistan including against other countries that support terrorism (like Iran). In addition to quickly and decisively defeating the enemy, the U.S. and its allies must address the root cause of what is contributing to Islamic terrorism: the dissemination of Islamic fundamentalism. Both Saudi Arabia and Iran are responsible for this in which both countries transmit the version of Islam their regimes subscribe to in members of the Sunni and Shiite sects of the faith. It is Saudi Arabia and Iran and the Islamism they propagandize that should be the main focal points of our efforts. One good first step would be for U.S. diplomats to pressure the state of Qatar to shut down al-Jazeera  while urging U.S. satellite companies to no longer carry the network as part of their programing. Of course combating Islamism is an intellectual as much as it is a military undertaking and programs geared to countering it non-militarily should be undertaken.
Despite being considered an ally by the United States, Saudi Arabia still subsidizes efforts that teach Wahhabism to Sunni Muslims and the country's monarchy funnels millions of dollars to export their official version of Islam worldwide. In addition to funding terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah as well as pursuing the acquisition of nuclear technology, Iran openly and proudly conducts its indoctrination convincing people that their sacrifice is Allah's will with promises of rewards in the after life.
All of the above mentioned activities on the part of the Saudis and Iranians are acts of war and should be treated as such. Let's also not forget that Islamic law mandates the conquest of non-believers (i.e. infidels), dividing the world into two camps: Dar al-Islam (House of Peace) and Dar al-Harb (House of War). Sharia law also requires inferior status for dhimmis (i.e. Christians and Jews) who are forbidden to bear arms and must pay a head tax (jizya) from which Muslims are exempt. Islam allows for the enslavement of non-Muslims, including dhimmis, but dhimmis are protected more than other infidels and their murder is prohibited, unlike polytheists such as Hindus. These doctrines have been in place and practiced long before the United States was ever involved in the Middle East much less before the U.S. ever existed.
Regardless of the above facts about Islamic law and the activities of the Saudi and Iranian leadership, I have no doubt that the majority of Muslims and people in the Middle East itself no matter what religion, race, or creed truly want a decent, peaceful, free life for themselves. Unfortunately, any hopes of such aspirations becoming a reality will remain nothing more than fantasies until and unless Islamic fundamentalism is rooted out like the cancer that it is and Islamic scholars and political leaders in the Middle East and abroad truly reject it in word and action.
When the United States invaded Iraq, the effect initially sent a strong message of our determination to defeat terrorism. Unfortunately, the U.S. made appeasement and pragmatism the overriding program for Iraq's occupation such as allowing Iraq's constitution to be based on Sharia Law. It is small wonder that not only has civil war broken out but Islamic terrorism as a whole still continues. If policy makers and politicians continue appeasement, negotiation, and compromise, Islamists will not only manipulate such efforts to their advantage but use such opportunities to grow stronger. When process and political correctness rather than a principled course set on victory by truly defeating Islamic totalitarianism makes the comeback of groups (like the Taliban) inevitable.
Government's job is to protect the rights of its citizens which includes using retaliatory force against threats to them such as criminals and foreign invaders. However, a government that uses force (such as indoctrination) to impose an ideological or political doctrine is statism since it is the subjugation of the individual to the demands of the state. And like we saw with how Japan imposed its moral code on the populace to begin, create, and sustain its empire, in a similar sense we are seeing the same outcome in many countries of the Middle East with Islamic jihadism transmitted by two evil regimes that contributes to the radicalization of Muslims and in many cases results in them becoming terrorists. The lessons of how we defeated Japan and purged its ideological political doctrine from Japanese society including the 2003 invasion of Iraq and how easy it was for U.S. forces to defeat Iraq's military are the best examples that show how we can defeat the enemy of Islamic totalitarianism and ultimately win. Pragmatism and political deal making be damned.

3 Comments in Response to

Comment by Ed Price
Entered on:

The way to fix Iraq is to give them freedom from US - you know, the U.S.. That's how we win this non-war!

There was a time when many of their people loved us and wanted us to come and help them. But enough is enough. I think they want us out.

Comment by Christopher Cellone
Entered on:

In the sixth paragraph, first sentence of my comment, "our conquest of Iran and Japan" should read "our conquest of Iraq and Japan ..." I apologize for this typographical error.

Comment by Christopher Cellone
Entered on:

Well-researched materials and well-written. How the materials were used to form an opinion on how to fix Iraq and win the war against Islamic Fundamentalism is quite debatable.

In Iraq, we made the alleged "mistake" of dismantling completely the military machinery Saddam Husein has built to imposed his dictatorship in Iraq. The writer questioned this move. Members of the military sympathetic to our cause -- the writer argues -- could have been retained and used in rebuilding Iraq into a democracy we want. As a result of this wrong move, members of the military who were disbanded joined the rebels that now create a big problem to our presence in Irag.

In short, retaining a certain degree of "Saddamism" [preserving some of the Dictator’s cultural vestiges identifiable to Iraqis, including using his loyal army to rebuild Iraq rather than disbanding them and forcing them to join the underground] would have been quite helpful if not necessary in the "westernization" of Iraq that we spent billions of dollars to achieve, but not quite, up to now.

However, in our war against terrorism, we have succeeded in getting rid of Saddam Hussein with his hidden WMD he planned to use in his undeclared war against the United States, just as we and the Western world now aspire to get rid of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the "Terror of Teheran" who is determined to use his WMD [one of them is a nuclear arsenal he is now building] to wipe Israel off the map.

To "westernize" Iraq is but secondary if not just a consequence of our main objective of getting rid of Saddam Hussein [and currently of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] which we have in no unmistakable terms, succeeded. In getting rid of the "Terror of Teheran", we also hope to succeed, like how we succeeded in eliminating the "Terror of Baghdad", even though it would mean war.

And yet, in our conquests of Iran and Japan, even though we did not differ in our use of formidable force to vanquish the enemy, we were contradictory in our desire to "westernize" both "conquered" countries.

In our occupation of Japan, unlike what we could have done for the "westernization" of Iraq [retain part of "Saddanism"] but we did not do, we did it for the "westernization" of Japan. Emperor Hirohito’s Shintoism that built a war-like Japan that lasted for centuries, was COMPLETELY eradicated which in Iraq we are saying we should have retained a certain comparable degree of "Saddamism" to rebuild and "westernize" Iraq. Instead, Shintoism as once the center of Japanese way of thinking and the core value of patriotism or love of country, was forbidden. This war-like mentality was no longer taught in Japanese schools, and in the manufacturing industry, it was replaced by the concept of free enterprise for manufacturing or producing goods for Japan’s international trade instead of producing massive war materials, in the name, and for the glory, of the Emperor.

To sum it up, in Iraq, we are saying that we needed a certain degree of "Saddamism" to "westernize" Iraq. But in Japan we are also saying quite the contrary -- that not a semblance of Shintoism was ever retained in the life of the modern Japanese or ever allowed by the United States to rebuild Japan into what it is today.

So tell me, which way did we go wrong …

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