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Look before you leap

April 29, 2007

Parade magazine’s Lyric Wallwork Winik writes in his “Intelligence Report”:

From abroad – What the U.S. Missed In Iraq

A fact of life in Iraq has gotten little press here: Nearly half of all Iraqis marry their first or secondcousins.  The preferred union is for a daughter to wed the son of her father’s brother.  In fact, Saddam Hussein married his first cousin, Sajida.  “That’s why the shrewdest forecasts about what would happen in Iraq came not from the foreign-policy experts but from sociologists,” says journalist John Tierney, who reported on this phenomenon.  Back in 2003, those sociologists warned that Iraq would never be like post-war Japan or Germany, because Iraqis were loyal to their clans and tribes – not to the Iraqi nation.  Even today, much of the violence runs along clan lines.  The army and police have an uphill battle to prove they can protect Iraqi communities better than the local militias.  What does this mean for America’s war effort?  Perhaps Congress will belatedly want to ask the President and the generals where tribes and tribal loyalties fit into their plans for building a stable Iraqi nation. (Parade Magazine, 29 April, 2007)

Yes, academic knowledge of countries we plan to attack is important.  Crucial, even.  A little something to remember as hotheads dismiss tweedy “elites” who have spent their lives studying other cultures.

Categories: defense, Politics
  1. April 30, 2007 at 07:24 | #1

    The current administration treats knowledge as an option and consistently chooses to opt-out. Not just when it comes to knowing anything about Iraq before invading the country, but also on every matter from global warming to stem cell research.

  2. April 30, 2007 at 09:50 | #2

    I just listened to NPR this morning and now, after 4 years, the military is trying to implement plans to slow down the insurgency.  Now after hundreds of thousands of deaths from both sides after 4 years they are trying to decrease the rate of which Iraqi citizens join the insurgency.  Wow did this ever piss me off!

    Ditto on what Paul said…

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