24 August 2007

Alternative Occupation

Filed under: Culture, Reflections — ktismatics @ 7:18 am

Despite some uneven improvements, the analysts concluded that the level of overall violence is high, Iraq’s sectarian groups remain unreconciled, and al-Qaida in Iraq is still able to conduct highly visible attacks… The intelligence report warns against scaling back the mission of U.S. forces, an argument the Bush administration could use to support a continuation of its current troop surge. Analysts found that changing the U.S. military’s mission from its current focus — countering insurgents and stabilizing the country — in favor of supporting Iraqi forces and stopping terrorists would hurt the security gains of the last six months.

The American military presence in Iraq currently stands at 162,000 — the highest level since the beginning of the war. The population of Iraq is about 28 million; that means there’s 1 American soldier for every 167 Iraqis. The U.S. Government Accounting Office estimates that we’ve spent half a trillion dollars on the war so far. That’s $18,000 for every Iraqi man, woman and child, or $3 million for every American soldier stationed in Iraq.

I can imagine an alternative history in which a victorious Iraqi army occupies America. Deployment is proportional to ours presently in Iraq: the US population is about 300 million, so that means there would be about 1.8 million Iraqi soldiers on American soil. Sounds like a lot, but the sheer numbers aren’t really that shock-and-awesome. The cumulative manpower of all the American police forces is just about 1 million. Doubling the police force might be noticeable, but life probably wouldn’t change much for most of us.

I live in Boulder Colorado, population 100 thousand — there would be about 600 occupying forces here in town. Suppose the troops were here to prevent American insurgent strikes against the Iraq-friendly government and to reduce violence between rival intra-American political factions. Their assignment isn’t an easy one, since nearly everybody in Boulder wants the troops to leave, and more than half of us believe that it’s justifiable to kill the soldiers. Consequently, maybe 90 percent of violent attacks are directed not at fellow Boulderites but at the occupying Iraqi army. Not surprisingly, the troops don’t patrol neighborhoods in squad cars looking for hot spots; instead they stay holed up in their heavily fortified headquarters. They’re afraid to talk to the locals for fear of being ambushed. When they do venture into the town, they drive in convoys of heavily armored vehicles that never stop or slow down. When they do stop you’d be advised not to stick around to find out why.

Now suppose some ethnic strife flared up in your neighborhood. Would you call the Iraqi army, invite them to come and have a look around? Not likely. They wouldn’t investigate; they’d knock down doors and intimidate everyone. Besides, since everybody hates the occupiers, what would be the consequences if you called the Iraqis into your neighborhood? Retaliation would be almost certain. Consequently the Iraqi army typically finds itself responding to false leads and anonymous calls motivated by personal revenge. Ordinary internecine strife remains untouched by the armed foreign presence.

At some point the occupying army might get the hint. We’re not wanted, we’re every faction’s enemy, we’re not doing any good here. These Americans seem to be on the verge of chaos, but they’ll just have to work things out among ourselves.



  1. quite insightful, dude man.


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 24 August 2007 @ 10:30 am

  2. Brig. Gen. Richard Sherlock, deputy director for operational planning for the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said violence in Iraq “has continued to decline and is at the lowest level since June 2006.” He offered no statistics to back his claim.

    According to AP tracking numbers: Iraq is suffering about double the number of war-related deaths throughout the country compared with last year — an average daily toll of 33 in 2006, and 62 so far this year. This year’s U.S. troop buildup has succeeded in bringing violence in Baghdad down from peak levels… Baghdad, however, still accounts for slightly more than half of all war-related killings — the same percentage as a year ago


    Comment by ktismatics — 25 August 2007 @ 3:43 pm

  3. I still think of the Iraqi terrorists as we still call them here, as the resistance. In any other conflict they would be either freedom fighters or the resistance


    Comment by Ivan — 2 September 2007 @ 4:03 am

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