Sunday, July 15, 2007

Wishful thinking

Good News! Apparently, I can come home now! No, seriously - just ask the Iraqi Prime Minister, who says we can go anytime we want. I want, I want!

Honestly though, this article is frustrating as hell but not at all a surprise. Even at my level, the Iraqi's seem to hate metrics or benchmarks. "In-shallah", or God-willing, is not just a phrase they utter when they dont want to do something; it is a way of life. Their culture, which stems from a mixture of Islamic religion, oppressive governments and a harsh environment, has ingrained this into them. It's easy to say they are lazy or unmotivated, but it takes a unique perspective to be able to step back and see why they are lazy and unmotivated. Islam teaches its followers to trust in God and he will take care of them. However, it also says that a person must make his own fortune, much like Christianity and Judaism. Throw in an oppressive government, though, and now we can see how people start leaning on their religion a little more; ok, lets not push the issue lest we get killed, lets sit back and let God take care of what He will. Thirdly - it is damn hot here. The heat at noon, combined with blowing sand, almost makes ME want to stop working, throw my hands up and declare "In-shallah!".

Let's call a spade a spade, though. They are not motivated or hard working by any American standard. I know plenty of people working in Arizona and So. Cali that work their asses off daily, despite similar temperatures. Don't get me wrong, there are some here that work hard; unfortunately, I don't see many of those working hard in an Iraqi uniform. I know that there are Iraqi people who have a good work ethic - some of our local contractors, for example, work 10 hour days or more, straight through the heat of the day, and do darn good work. Maybe it's just the sub-culture I find myself trapped in.

So what are we doing here? Well, as I see it, we are trying to give them a system to use, provide the training for that system, and then set some benchmarks to see if they can use that system. The problem with the Iraqi Prime minister’s statement, then, is that he is pissed about the benchmarks. Well, if we don't have any benchmarks, how do we know your getting it?? Another comment that's funny to me is the PM supposedly is frustrated with Gen. Petraeus, because "he works along a 'purely American vision.'" Hello, CPT Obvious? This is common sense calling. The general is an American! We can only train you on American systems because that's all we know! He also talks about arming the militia, but I am not close enough to that situation to comment on it.

We aren't going to change their culture, and those who think we have to are doomed to failure and frustration. The problem is that we, as Americans, don't know how to institute a system to a culture so vastly different then ours. So, I'm sure everyone wants to know what I think - should we be here? I think i am going to cop out on answering that one for now. On one hand, after reading this article (and quite possibly before reading this article), I say see ya later alligator! On the other hand, I've started something here; I'd like to work it a little more before giving up on it. Of course, the latter thought is the one I need to keep for my own sanity, since I don't have a choice in the matter - I'm here, like it or not.


Joe Donato said...

Al-Maliki has an easy time making excuses for saber rattling after all the U.S. is paying for everything including his salary. Remove the cash that we send their government and I believe that would give him a change of heart. I hope we stay the course in spite of his rhetoric.

God is with our troops and so are we at home, thanks for keeping us safe.

Jason said...

Indeed, we are paying for everything! The dollar amounts on the contracts I deal with are staggering, and it is all $US. However, this further fuels my desire to at least stay our course and see the plan through, and makes the article even more infuriating. Thanks for the comment!

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