Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Amb. Crocker, Bucking the Bureaucratic Trend, Calls for 'Strategic Patience' in Iraq

As some of the regulars here may know, I've never been a major fan of Amb. Ryan Crocker (...or of Gen. David Petraeus, for that matter), but Crocker's statements today are very reasonable, and they represent a sharp break with the State Department's conventional wisdom on the Middle East. Crocker is asking the American public to think of what the mission in Iraq can achieve in 10-20 years. Problem is, apart from Senators McCain and Lieberman and a few others, no one seems to be thinking that far ahead.

Here are some of the highlights:

"All Americans should be and are proud of the achievements in Iraq and the American role in bringing about the change," he said. "Iraq is in a far, far better place than it was say 18 months ago."


"With the improvement of conditions in Iraq regional powers are taking a new look at Iraq ... but also at the U.S.," he said. "And again I think that what happens going forward is going to have a profound effect on how the U.S. is perceived in this region and beyond."

"If we are seen as the catalyst that does produce a stable, secure democratic Iraq that never again threatens its own people or its neighbors, we will be seen as a power that came in and produced a fundamentally positive shift in this region."
Absolutely true: America will be judged by its achievements in securing its interests, not by dolling out slobbery apologies to the rest of the world. McCain wants to win, Obama wants to apologize: that's the foreign policy dichotomy in this election.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this essay is very smart and honest. We need honesty more than ever. I got it as a forwarded message. I don't know who the original author is but I feel that it speaks for me:-

Obama is turning out to be The Big Let-Down of ’08.
Obama kept insinuating that He is The Second Coming but every time we’ve held our breaths waiting for him to change water into wine, we’ve been disappointed. Obama kept telling us to ‘tune in next week!’ and he never delivers, the miracle never comes. There is nothing there.
Obama’s has a problem with clarity. I have systematically studied both his autobiographies and I still don’t know what kind of man I’m dealing with. When he was first showcased on TV, my interest was aroused. I used to find Obama enigmatic, but now he just comes off as vacuous, empty.
Obama’s two books address the questions of “Journey of Discovery to Where?” and “Who Am I?” We can all relate to such pondering. But Obama does not give us an answer. If he has found the answer since publishing those two books two years ago then he hasn’t told us yet.
McCain has been on a longer and harder personal journey. There can be nothing more extreme than surviving daily torture for five years. Can you imagine that? To be beaten day-in and day-out, starved, your hands and legs bound by chains? McCain already knows what he can take, and humbly knows where he breaks. Every man and woman has a breaking point. It is very human. McCain already knows his, even though he held out as long as he could.
What trials or stories of human devastation has Obama endured? I can’t imagine being Black in America is an easy thing. But Obama was raised in Polynesia by white grandparents and then went on to Harvard, community service, the Senate, and now the presidency. Obama’s journey seems to have been very easy. His skin color opened all the right doors for him instead of slamming them shut. Obama didn’t march against segregation. Obama didn’t fight for affirmative action. He planted no tree. He carried no water for that tree. Obama has just come along and picked the fruits. That is easy street. This is not a great American story. This is not a triumph of will over adversity. This is a story of baby-boomer entitlement. This is the story of the yuppy next door. These stories are a dime a dozen on aisle 3 at Whole Foods.
You may agree or disagree with McCain but at least you know where he stands. He has a long track record to judge him by. McCain has a long list of hits and misses. He has made mistakes (like us all) but that is because he had been trying to do things and change things all his life. Obama markets himself as the candidate with an unblemished record, but that is only because he doesn’t have a record. We have nothing to judge Obama by. All he gives us is his word and we are supposed to put all our trust in his future promises. But these promises keep changing: Obama has produced two contradictory promises on Iraq, two contradictory promises on NAFTA, and two contradictory promises on taxes. Are we supposed to judge him by the original promise he made, or by his most recent one? The candidate who flows with the changing winds of polls is the lightweight. That much we know.
I feel very embarrassed for buying into the Obama phenomena. Maybe now that the weather is changing I see things in a new light. I feel sheepish for falling for the marketing pitch. Where do I go to get a refund?
I think that many voters like me are looking for clarity in our next president. I feel I know what kind of man McCain is, and that I can trust him. McCain gets my vote.

11:52 AM, September 28, 2008

Blogger Sam G. Stolzoff said...

The victory in Iraq is a victory with the Iraqi people, not against them. I believe that tribal engagement is the only way that we can consolidate our military victories and translate them into peace. Nibras' work is some of the best that I have read since 2006, when I started reading his work. Keep up the good work, Nibras. I am with you.

Very Respectfully,

Sam Stolzoff

3:03 PM, September 28, 2008

Blogger Brian H said...

There's a reason tribalism faded out in non-low-tech non-isolated societies. When Iraq and the ME no longer fit those descriptions, they, too, will cease to be tribal. Even bizarre pseudo-states like Kuwait, KSA, and Qatar will morph and grow into something that can actually functionally interact with the world across a broad range of their populations, not just in the form of farmed-out top-down super-sheikh initiatives.

11:34 PM, September 29, 2008

Blogger Brian H said...

BTW, the linkage with Islam is that Islam is at home only in low-tech isolated societies, and reflexively and urgently tries to recreate and establish those conditions.

11:36 PM, September 29, 2008

Anonymous Robert Stevens said...

It doesn't take a Johnny Smith to see that Barack Obama is Greg Stillson.

1:28 AM, September 30, 2008

Blogger Sam G. Stolzoff said...

Brian - I agree with you on all points except one. Top-down, chain of command sheikhdom doesn't really apply in Iraq in all cases. Our engagement efforts will be more successful if we use a bottom up approach. Al-Qaeda's tribal engagement focuses on small, disenfranchised subtribes, so our engagement has to be on that level. We have the advantage as we have more resources and the moral high ground.

I've been in Iraq for the last 4 out of 5 years, and I speak Arabic. You can take a tribesmen away from his tribe, but you can't take the tribe out of the tribesman.

Have a look at my blog at www.theiraqiarabtribalsystem.blogspot.com. I'd love your comments.

4:05 AM, September 30, 2008

Anonymous Anon21 said...

Are you five years old Sam? I don't see how the 4/5 would be significant otherwise.

1:01 PM, September 30, 2008

Blogger Sam G. Stolzoff said...

Anon21 -

A man with one eye is a king in the land of the blind - Arabic Proverb.

Very Respectfully,


7:38 PM, October 03, 2008

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Blogger yurake said...

beurocratic trend?) funny stuff

2:05 AM, December 24, 2010

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sorry but I totally respectfully disagreed with that declaration, I'm not proud with the many deads of our boys in a strange land, and why? just because someone told "they have massive destruction weapons...and guess what? April's Fool!!!

1:56 PM, November 22, 2011

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