Saturday, March 17, 2007


I read recently that the U.S., the most generous country in the world except for its own people, built a swimming pool for the Iraqi National Guard to enjoy. However, the article said the pool was empty, so evidently the Iraqi prefer dipping into the Tigris, or perhaps just allowing their garments to absorb the perspiration.

I was quite flabbergasted at our largesse since, from all the accounts I have read, the training of the Iraqi as soldiers or policemen has been a lengthy, expensive and utterly frustrating experience. We seem to have been training Iraqi and waiting for them to be able to take over the burden of their own country's battles for a very long time. I have come to the conclusion that even the most troubled high school dropout would have absorbed the procedures by now, so the only conclusion is that the Iraqi are not interested in this training and would rather be left alone to join their various militias.

It is a puzzle, because if we had believed George Bush before the War in Iraq began, we were told that Saddam Hussein had huge military capabilities. One would think that his Army would be well-trained and experienced. One would think that we would not have to train this vast and fierce Army, just drooling at the thought of an invasion of the United States with their Weapons of Mass Destruction, their nuclear capability, their fierce determination.

Instead, we met this unorganized, ragtag bunch of soldiers, ill-equipped and inexperienced. We found no Weapons of Mass Destruction, the nuclear danger did not exist, and the terrorists resided happily in other lands until many of them decided to come to Iraq to help kill Americans.

Of course, we must remember that Saddam's Army was disbanded shortly after the invasion. Perhaps most of them left the country or were slammed into Abu Ghraib. Whatever happened, we are left with a vast number of men....some 300,000 or more strong...who just can't seem to be trained in the western version of military might.

Our own troops are given just a short period of training, then they are sent to the battlefield. The Iraqi seem to approach Middle Age before they are able to pick up a gun and fight, if then. One report said that, while American soldiers were raiding a compound said to house terrorists, the Iraqi troops stood on the sidewalks, gazing around, doing nothing. They take a week off per month to visit their families, and many of them go A.W.O.L.

Then, I began to wonder what things would be like if the situation were reversed. Suppose Saddam Hussein had had his magnificent military command. Suppose he conquered the United States of America in one fell swoop. Suppose he took over the White House, the Capitol, the Pentagon, then proceeded to occcupy the United States and introduce us to a dictatorship, encouraging us all to become Muslims and willing participants in a new world.

In the resulting chaos, suppose Saddam decided to recruit an American Army, ready to quell all resistance. Our young people would join this effort, simply because the Iraqi occupation of our country has left us all destitute. We have no jobs, little food, and we are afraid to go to the market to spend what little money we have, lest we be blown to smithereens. So our men, desperate for jobs, join the new American Army, formed to obey Saddam's wishes.

Would they fight? Would they shoot and kill fellow Americans? Or would they dawdle about, reluctant to fight their own people? Would they require more training...and more training...until Saddam was left frustrated and worried. He planned on leaving the U.S. in the hands of the New Army, while he and his troops returned to Iraq, leaving behind the new dictatorship and the some 300 million new Muslims, happy as chipmunks under a nut tree.

One gets a new perspective upon this war when one considers what it would be like, if the shoe were on the other foot. The bombing, the chaos, would affect us all. Our homes would be gone, our businesses gone, our life torn into disarray. Tent cities would spring up, with thousands of refugees. And no family would escape the violence, losing husbands, wives, children, mothers and fathers. Death would be a daily occurrence. The sound of explosions and bombs would be the last thing we heard before we drifted off to sleep.

Under this rule, the divisiveness of the United States would be enhanced. We would start fighting each other, in civil disturbances that grew into civil war. The Evangelicals, anxious to hang onto their beliefs, would blow up the Muslim temples. Other Americans, trying to just stay alive, would become Muslim as Saddam required, just trying to stay alive. It would be a madhouse, a hellhole, a catastrophe, made worse by the New American Army, forced to police their own.

Mark Morford, a very amusing, adroit and talented writer, suggests we follow the example of the Mayans and burn a bush to chase away the fumes of this warloving administration, celebrating the farewell of George W. Bush with a clarification ceremony.

But, let's face it, mere fumes will not be enough to erase the problems this war has caused. The terrorists have grown in number, the fighting continues in Afghanistan, bin Laden still hides in his mountains or wherever.....and the United States is bogged with the problems of a little country, a country where people are battling each other because of age-old grudges and religious differences.

No fumes from a burning bush will chase away the problems left behind by George Bush. It will take several generations of clean, fresh air to do that....and Al Gore warns we may not even be able to have that!