Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Future of Iraq




After spending a deployment and a half in Iraq I have come to a conclusion about the future of Iraq. Many people speculate whether or not Iraq even has a chance to survive the current turmoil and become a full-fledged democracy. People often say that a democracy will not work in a predominately Muslim nation. People say that civil war in Iraq is inevitable. Well people say a lot of things, and just because they do so doesn’t mean that what they say is going to come to pass.

When considering who to believe on a certain topic you must first establish whom you can trust. All people are to be trusted at first unless there is some known reason not to trust them. If we all went around doubting everything we heard then we wouldn’t be able to function as a society. If you constantly called the weatherman into question then you wouldn’t have a clue what to wear each day or wouldn’t know when to evacuate your city when a hurricane was predicted. If you doubted your math teachers in school then you would never learn math. Until someone has proven that they are not to be trusted then some type of trust must be given to them.

In the case of the news media I believe they have given viewers enough cause to distrust them. Dan Rather comes to mind for many of his stories i.e. Abu Gharib, Bush’s National Guard documents. Chris Matthews, Geraldo Rivera, Lou Dobbs, and the whole lot of them that report from the hotel with the blue mosque behind it in Baghdad come to mind also. Not that they have out right lied but rather, real news (from soldiers) from Iraq contradicts what they say on air.

My point in saying all of this is to build up credibility for what I am about to say. I do not believe that I have given anyone cause to distrust me as of yet (if you disagree let me know). I used to write a weekly column for a college paper at Ohio University and my initial intent with my column was to present indisputable facts that everyone could agree on. The conclusions that I drew from the facts was where people could disagree with me but no one every called me out for lying about the facts of each column. I have the same intent with this blog. If you ever catch me lying or misrepresenting the truth then please call me out on it, I would be grateful for your doing so.

Ok so back to my conclusion about Iraq. My conclusion is this—the future of Iraq lies with the children of Iraq. The children of Iraq are the hope of all the countries that want to see freedom and democracy in the Middle East. It is up to the younger generation to learn how to protect their own country, to fight for freedom in the face of democracy, to remember the sacrifice of so many foreign soldiers that earned them their freedom, and to yearn for freedom and liberty above all else.

I place my hope in the younger generation of Iraqis for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that they most likely do not remember the hard times under Saddam. Of course they will hear the stories and feel some of the after effects of his evil regime but more likely then not they were too young to know why life under his rule was rough. Thus said I believe that since they are growing up in a “free” country they will become accustomed to freedom and resist any type of dictatorship or religious Taliban-like type rule. Unlike their parents who grew up under Saddam’s rule, or at least were alive for all of it, the younger generation will not be as likely to put up with not being a completely free people.

Secondly I believe that the kids in Iraq have been the recipients of the greatest kindness shown by soldiers. I don’t know a soldier here who doesn’t have a heart for suffering children. The amount of work that has gone into helping the children here has been amazing. Schools have been rebuilt and stocked full of supplies by soldiers and their families back home, toys have been sent by the tons for soldiers to hand out to the kids, soldiers give kids food and water everyday, and soldiers just generally show kindness and gentleness towards children. All of these things help Iraqi children see the softer side of the soldiers whereas some of the older generation deems the soldiers to be a necessary nuisance for the time being. I could go on and on about the good deeds of soldiers towards children but you guys get the point, right?

In the children I place my hope. Not that I do not see hope for the near future of Iraq. I believe the older generation will set the stage for a true democratic society, but I believe as the children grow up in that society they will yearn for more. More to come on this topic later.

The picture is of me on my first deployment with a couple of Iraqi children that lived right next to my tent. They spent a lot of time with us and came to love American soldiers for the same reasons that I mention above. I guarantee that they grow up to remember the sacrifices that we made for them.

30 comments:

Mary*Ann said...

God Bless You, Boggs

Anonymous said...

You are not only a good soldier, Timothy Boggs, you are a young man with a very big heart and a thoughtful mind. We love that photo as it tells it all. We will remember those childrens faces as well as yours. Thank you in a special way for this blog.
A&N

Praguetwin said...

Hi Boggs,

I was going to just let it sit, but you asked on this post about accuracy. There seems to be some discrepancy vis a vis foreign insurgents and their numbers in Iraq. The earlier comment I made was...

T.F.:

I think what you are doing is great. There is no substitute for first-hand knowledge.

In the interests of accuracy, I wanted to put forth the following quote...

"Foreign militants make up only a small percentage of the insurgents fighting in Iraq, as little as 10 percent, according to US military and intelligence officials."

If anyone has any evidence to the contrary, I'm very open minded.


Mike

p.s. you might want to put word verification on before the robots find you.

T. F. Boggs said...

Hmmm praguetwin, you will have to let me know where you got that information. Everything I have heard has been contrary to your info. I will check into it though so thanks for bringing it up. Thanks for the tip about word verification, I think I will go that route.

Praguetwin said...

I'll do some research. This has been an ongoing debate. I'll provide you with some figures from various sources, you can do the same, and let's see what we come up with.

Deal?

Jen Eureka said...

that is the cutest picture ever!

Praguetwin said...

This from Wikipedia, and there are quotes from officers that I suppose you could confirm or deny.

*****

While it is not known how many of those resisting the U.S. occupation in Iraq are from outside the country, it is generally agreed that foreign fighters make up a small percentage of the insurgency. Major General Joseph Taluto, head of the 42nd Infantry Division, said that "99.9 per cent" of captured insurgents are Iraqi.[10] The estimate has been confirmed by the Pentagon's own figures; in one analysis of over 1,000 insurgents captured in Fallujah, only 15 were non-Iraqi. [11] According to the Daily Telegraph, information from military commanders engaging in battles around Ramadi exposed the fact that out of 1300 suspected insurgents arrested in five months of 2005, none were non-Iraqi, although Colonel John Gronski stated that foreigners provided money and logistical support: "The foreign fighters are staying north of the [Euphrates] river, training and advising, like the Soviets were doing in Vietnam"[12]

In addition, the presence of at least some foreign fighters has been confirmed. On September 7, 2005, an Iraqi Army Captain claimed that Iraqi forces arrested 150 non-Iraqi Arabs in Tal Afar.[13] But other accounts of the same battle do not mention these arrests[14], and U.S. Army commander Colonel HR McMasters said the "vast majority" of insurgents captured there were "Iraqis and not foreigners."[15] Iraqi journalist Nasir Ali claimed that there were "very few foreign combatants" in Tal Afar and charged "Every time the US army and the Iraqi government want to destroy a specific city, they claim it hosts Arab fighters and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi."[16]

Quite a good article on the insurgency I thought. You can read the whole article here

Be sure to read this as well. You'll notice that the estimates cited are 40,000 hard-core fighters with as many as 200,000 playing supporting roles. 1,000 of which are belived to be foreign fighters.

Your turn to cite sources.

tfdad said...

Praguetwin,

You might imagine from where you sit as Dir. of Ops, somewhere in the Czech Art Industry, that Sgt Boggs has time to play pseudo-intellectual chess with you, but I know for a fact the Army has a lot to do where is and he's kept real busy. So, on his behalf I'll make a few points for him.

1)You say you're "Looking for change within the "system" (my quotes) beginning with reconciliation among various forces in American politics". Unless you get off on frustration, you might want to look for other things then that. Ain't gonna happen son. Our country is fundamentally divided along a values fault-line. Only one side understands that nazi-inspired fascism is back and America is fighting against it in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Should we succeed in our efforts, we can save ourselves and the rest of the world a whole lot of human grief and misery. If we don't, a whole lot of people like you are going to realize what fools they were to minimize the threat to freedom and peace posed by these death-loving freaks. Churchill (read his book, The Gathering Storm) said WWII was the most preventable was in human history. Why wasn't it prevented? Because Europe couldn't muster the backbone to stop Hitler when it would has been relatively easy too. American currently has a President with sufficient nerve to do what the rest of the world won't. Read the children's tale, The Little Red Hen while you're at it.

2. I know only enough about Wikipedia not to trust. But so what if there's far more homegrown bad guys than foreign? You want it to be so to serve your complaint that we shouldn't be in Iraq, that's what. You play this little "radical moderate" game and you think people can't see thru it. A couple weeks ago Tim referred us to a letter from the mayor of Tall'Afar (an Iraqi town near the Syrian border) who said, "Our city was the main base of ops for Abu Mousab Al Zarqawi (a Jordanian by the way). The city was completely held hostage in the hands of his henchmen. The courageous soldiers of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment liberated our city, ridding it of Zarqawi's followers after harsh fighting, killing many terrorists." Don't miss the forest for the trees, man.

3. It sounds like you're an American citizen living abroad. If you're so goldarned concerned about the ethnic makeup of the Mosgue blowing up, beheading losers who are preventing the good people of Iraq of having decent lives for once, why don't you volunteer like Tim and SSgt Newton and find out firsthand. Until then, don't waste the time of better men than you with "your turn to cite sources"

It's your call Tim, but I'd pull the plug on this butthead.

Anonymous said...

tfdad - - -You rock!! Nobody could have said it any better. And you know what? We are going to get tough here, for girls, and say: We look around us every day and see the youth of America going to waste because they have no direction - -in school, in church, and mainly at home - -if they are lucky enough to know whom their parents are even. The men fighting for us are the cream of our country - -yes, maybe they don't all have college degrees, thankfully, because all our schools do now is propagandize. They do not nurture scholars any more. Our youth are not taught wisdom along and the learning is meager at best. You sir, have done a great job as a dad.. We know because the proof of the pudding is in the eating and your son has EARNED our respect and trust. May we all cut the crap and get real in this country before we have no country. I have been to Europe and I wouldn't give you a dime for the whole dang place!
Annie & Neatie

Gypsy said...

t.f. it's easy for us to trust and believe in you..because you are there, experiencing first hand...seeing first hand...what is happening on the ground.

And you are so right, the children are the future...that is true in every country of course but in Iraq, the Stan and so many other places America's Finest are bringing them the taste of freedom.

What an incredible gift, hopefully a lasting gift, that one human can bring to another. Yes freedom is everyone's inherent right but in too many places those "in charge" don't see it that way.

Laura Ingrahm (sp?) spent some time in Iraq recently and has been on Fox giving reports. She said having seen it with her own eyes she is more encouraged, and moreso than when she is at home, than ever with the progress being made.

Many Americans I know no longer trust nor believe in MSM, and turn to Military writer/bloggers for the truth. It's their own fault, they refuse to cover the whole story...well I refuse to give them one minute of my time.

You take good care and stay safe.

BZ tfdad!

Anonymous said...

You're just too nice, Gypsy.

tfdad said...

Gypsy, help an old man out here-

Buy a Zippo?
Build a Zoo?
Bite a Zulu?
Bare my Zebra?
Bury a Zorastrian?

Anonymous said...

tfdad - -Don't you know nothin'? It means button your zipper. Duh

Praguetwin said...

TFDAD:

I understand Boggs is quite busy. The reason I asked him to cite sources was in response to his request that I cite mine.

Boggs is running this site in the interests of getting the true information out to the public. If this is indeed his goal, he should welcome the information that I have provided. If you read this entry, he specifically asks for people to point out when he says something inaccurate. Perhaps you could cite some sources that coraborate what Boggs has said and save him time and enlighten us all.

I don't know what the situation on the ground is. I am not there. I have provided not only Wikipedia as a source, but GlobalSecurtiy.org as well. I could probably cite another 20. I would be happy to be proven wrong on this point (despite what you think my agenda is). I am interested in the truth.

If there are in fact more foreign soldiers than Iraqis, then let's get some numbers and get the information out. Let's take on the MSM and make them look foolish. I'm all for it.

I'm not even going to address your personal attacks. You don't know me, and you provide no information on yourself. 'nuf said.

In conclusion I am "so goldarned concerned about the ethnic makeup of the Mosgue blowing up, beheading losers" as you so elequently stated because, as every soldier knows, you should know your enemy if you hope to defeat him.

Thanks for your comments, but your cynicism and name-calling is counterproductive in my view.

PT

Anonymous said...

my comment,and I will reamin an anonymous US citizen,,is this. Boggs blogs provide us with important on ground information given as a US Soldier. He is limited because he is in one location in Iraq, not everywhere at one time. Many soldiers are doing the same and when all read and put together I am getting pretty much the same picture generally. It does not match what the MSM and many politicians and the enemy are saying. I believe the soldiers. Does it matter all that much what countries these murdering terrorists come from? They are a minority in Iraq. This particular blog of Boggs shows some of the horrors they have caused for the women and children of Iraq and the goodness and compassion of our great fighting men. I, for one, hate evil murdering terrorists no matter where they come from and I recognize those who support them as equally quilty. Thank you Boggs for this blog. Thank you Boggs father for being a really involved citizen and father. Thank you prague twin for seaking the truth but I think we pretty well recognize and understand our enemy in Iraq and around the world and understanding them and their motives as I do, from some first hand experience, I don't need a country by country head count. That is not to insult you - - just another "one mans honest opinion" from the small area of this world that I occupy. Again Boggs, thank you for your very interesting and informative blogs.

Anonymous said...

for anyone interested FoxNews.com had a new feature. An Army fellow serving in Iraq who will be posting his entries in his diary from over there. It is an attenpt, we think, to answer the swell of requests for such. We emailed the Editor and told them about Boggs Blogs. Good luck Boggs. Maybe if we all emailed the Editor of the article we would get Boggs some attention. The item is in the center of the opening page of FoxNews.com.

Gypsy said...

tfdad...BZ is Bravo Zulo! (Way to go, well done...etc) :)

Thanks anon.

Gypsy said...

PS tfdad....don't be Baring your Zebra in public. LOL!

MissBirdlegs in AL said...

I tend to agree with you, Boggs, on the children. I like your daddy, too!! Both of you rock!

Praguetwin said...

Thank you Anon for your thoughtful comments.

I had occured to me that maybe there were more foreign soldiers in the Mosul area than the rest of Iraq which would account for Boggs perception. That too, I think, would be a good story.

I think lumping all terrorists into a single group is a strategic mistake however. An enemy should be clearly defined and dissected in order to defeat him more effectively.

I don't understand why this discrepancy in reporting exists and I seek the truth because I imagine there is a deeper story underneath the misinformation (irrespective of who is spreading it). I understand why people (like yourself) consider it irrelavant information, but I don't understand the almost violent protest I encounter when I am just trying to collect data. It stinks of propaganda.

But perhaps that is just me, and I am just imagining things.

A big thanks goes to Boggs for his bravery and for providing a forum.

Apologies to anyone I offended.

BUCK SARGENT said...

Trying to figure out the nationality demographics of the enemy is a waste of time. Obviously, there are going to be higher percentage of foreign fighters near the borders and less so in the interior areas of Iraq. But yeah, I agree that the majority of the gruntwork is being perfomed by locals. Offer a guy with no job a pile of cash to throw a grenade at an American patrol, or shoot at an IP station, and you're probably not going to have to look too hard to find any takers.

I think a big part of the equation that most are missing is the crime factor, though. At lot of what is reported as "terrorist" activity is just plain old fashioned criminal activity that wouldn't be construed as anything else were it to occur in any other country than Iraq. Kidnappings, robberies, murders, general violence and mayhem, etc. An Iraqi who commits these acts against his own people in no more a "freedom fighter" than a foreign terrorist or an L.A. gang member in South Central.

I think the biggest problem Iraq is going to have to face is the rise of mafia-style violence and corruption of local officials, just like the type visited on the Russians after Communism fell. Going from a statist society to a free one always seems to include this period of chaos.

I think the best course of action is still to continue training and building up the local police and army and creating self-sustaining institutions that can and will endure after we've moved on. Find and employ enough Iraqis who give a damn, and they'll replicate themselves over time, just as our own police forces and the all-volunteer Army has over the last 25 years.

Robert Kaplan makes a good point in "The Coming Normalcy?" (current issue of Atlantic Monthly) that reporters have abandoned places like Mosul as we've begun to eradicate the terrorist cells and the resultant attacks. But at the same time, this has provided less incentive for insurgents to attack because they know it will garner less media coverage than it would in a larger media pool like Baghdad. That's why Zarqawi and his ilk have given up on success stories like Mosul and Tal Afar, and shifted their focus elsewhere.

I get frustrated when I hear accusations from Congress that "staying the course" is not a viable plan. In reality, it's the only one that has a hope of working. You can't remake a society overnight. You have to teach them the ropes, and then allow them the opportunity to learn and perfect them. That is precisely what we are doing.

The way I see it, we had two options after dethroning Saddam. 1: Declare victory, pack up and go home. (And watch on CNN as the country imploded on a Rwanda scale). Or 2: Try to fix a demolished society 30 years in the making. I feel it was a courageous and noble decision on our part not to abandon these people when they needed us most. And I believe it is our responsibility now to stay and finish what we started, no matter how long it takes, how much money it costs, or how many lives it claims. When something is the right thing to do, all utilitarian concerns should be thrown right out the window, unless they address how better to accomplish the goal.

If often makes no "sense" when rescue parties lose multiple lives attempting to save a single individual, but that I think is the best that human nature has to offer. Much of the violence that we are seeing in Iraq I believe is the worst that human nature has to offer. It exists independently of us, and is not created by our presence. It is out there. And I will never feel anything but pride for having willingly chosen to fight against it, as the President has said, "at a time and place of our choosing."

I think you're right, Tim. This generation of children here is the only real hope for a prosperous Iraq. We'll know once we're old men whether we did enough for them or not. I'll let history be the judge.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much Buck Sargent. Your comment reminds us very much of Mike Yon and much that he has written. You are one of the soldiers that we listen to and are thankful for you, Boggs, the Duece Four, and all of our Military Men who have the intestinal fortitude and character to back up their convictions. What you say is not propaganda but the truth. Thanks for giving us that while you are fighting this very evil enemy who has slipped into every country on the face of this old world. More than that, thank God for men like you. A

Sherri said...

I loved this post.....the little ones usually are our best hope. Terrific picture too, not to mention the response from tfdad;)

the dude said...

Buck Sargent, I'd like to take you out to dinner! That was a great response! Very wise words, keep it up!

T. F. Boggs said...

Mike (Praguetwin),

First off sorry for the late response, I have been out and about for several days and have been unable to check the site. Now that I am back it seems like there has been quite the discussion about your response to my request that people let me know if they find anything untrue in my blogs. Secondly let me thank you for taking me up on my request, even if you do have some other motivation then simply seeking the truth in this case (which I don’t believe you do.) No matter what someone believes or what agenda they have I believe the facts should be accurately presented so that is what I hope to do and I am glad you are doing the same. I read both of the articles you suggested but have been unable to spend the time searching for some articles of my own. However, I understand your questioning my statement from the earlier comment I made saying that there are more foreign born fighters then actual Iraqis based on the articles you linked to.

Like Buck Sargent mentioned it doesn’t really matter about the nationality of those fighting against us. And also like he mentioned there is a lack of discrepancy between actual terrorism and regular old crime so I believe the numbers you linked to to be a little skewed. But alas you were talking about what I said in response to a comment on one of my posts and I will have to admit that I was careless with my words. When I mentioned that “I am under the impression that most of the terrorists here are foreigners and have been for some time” I believe I was thinking more along the lines of those terrorists that are the decision makers and chief financiers of terrorist ops in Iraq, the Zarqawi types. The day to day stuff i.e. placing of IED’s, random small arms shootings, and fragging of troops, is carried out by Iraqis for various reasons, one reason being that they can make good money by doing so in a country where good work is scarce. But as I see it Zarqawi is a queen bee when the common Iraqi criminal is the worker bee going out everyday and performing the important but menial tasks in order to accomplish the overall good of keeping the queen bee producing more and more worker bees to take care of her and her lifestyle.

Thanks Mike for being interested in the truth and thanks again for responding to my request even though I think this little debate overshadowed my true intent for this particular post. Like Buck said we will have to wait and see if history proves us right in the end. I am all for sacrificing now and taking pride in what I feel was and is the right thing to do, and then sitting back knowing that I did what I could to help affect the world for the better.

As far as personal attacks I believe these subjects can get quite personal and we should all put aside name calling in favor of some good ol fashioned arguments. There is nothing wrong with arguing and I feel that it helps us all become more aware of where we stand and what we believe. I hope that my blog can continue to hold debates like this in the future.

Praguetwin said...

Tim,

You have proven (once again) you are a stand up guy. You have echoed my thoughts about seeking truth, and for that I thank you. My opinions notwithstanding, I am ALWAYS interested in the truth.

Sorry for leading the discussion away from the intention of the post, but I think it was a fruitful endeavor. I understand that they get heated as these issues truly involve life and death. I take no offense, but I do try to deflect personal attacks, because like I said, I think they are unproductive. In any case, your post stands well on it's own, and you have made a very important point about the children which is a valid one.

From what I have hear, the insurgency is largely led and funded by the likes of Al-Zaqarwi, and the grunts are mainly Iraqi. Some of these Iraqi's, as you and Buck Sargent point out, are simply economically challenged paid killers. What we are having a hard time coming to terms with (or even verifying) is that many are nationalists who simply hate the presence of a foreign power irrespective of the benifits that force provides. I try to imagiine what normaly law abiding Americans might do if Chinese tanks were rolling through New York.

In any case, identifying and defining the insurgency will continue to be a problem. Even if the insurgency can be quelled, the problem of organized (and random) crime looks to be a huge problem. Indeed, while the bombings of all types continue to claim the lives of servicemen, and grab all the headlines, it seems that the gangs and general lawlessness are quickly becoming Iraq's primary problem. Perhaps it has been for a while.

But I don't really know. I sit here a thousand miles away and try to piece things the best I can from various sources.

Thanks for being one of them.

Anonymous said...

I doubt if Chinese tanks were rolling through New York that they would be trying to free us from murdering tyrants. Apples and oranges.

Matt said...

Tim,

Great post! Coincidentally I am writing a final that partly deals with the children leading tomorrow. I am examining disproportionate child removal rates with American Indians, and the importance of family preservation for future generations... but anyway, I digress.

You remember where the graffiti walls are at OU? Well an embankment wall near the back of Bentley hall has some run-off graffiti, angrily asking, "THERE'S A WAR GOING ON, WHY AREN'T YOU OUTRAGED?" Good ol' Athens, huh? (I can send you a photo of it if you really want it.) I've been formulating responses, but I cannot choose... It'd be my pleasure write the reply of your choice.

Whenever I walk past that wall, which is almost every day, I think of you and all of our other brave troops. Thanks, Tim.

T. F. Boggs said...

I would like it if you went to the wall and continued the remark by saying "There's a war going on, why arent you outraged that you have no clue what is really going on?" Then you could put an asterik and say 25 million people enjoy a freedom today that they have never experienced before, visit www.boredsoldier.blogspot.com for more info. Ha, that would be great. I would love a photo if you can send me one, I think it would make for a good blog and also a good letter to the editor (an old "friend" of mine) at The Post from me. Thanks for letting me know that OU is still good ol OU.

Matt said...

Tim,

Consider it done. Due to some upcoming travel, I won't be able to for a week or two. Anyway, I'll definitely do it.