Iraq report

The situation in Iraq appears bleak, unless you put it into the context of the rest of the Arab world. The descriptions of Iraq's police, courts, civil administration, everything but the violence, is typical of all Arab countries. For an example, try this article:

Dr. Abd Al-Wahhab Al-Effendi, "Fighting Corruption in the Arab World is Like Fighting Catholicism in the Vatican," Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), August 6, 2002, cited in Special Dispatch Series No. 411, "On the Struggle Against Corruption in the Arab Regimes," August 13, 2002, available at

The corruption and incompetence in Arab countries shocks most Americans. But those of us who have lived in the Middle East are very much aware of it. You might also want to look at Transparency International's web site and see how they rate Arab countries for corruption.

The US should not try to change the Arab culture of Iraq; the things we consider corruption, they see as astute business practices. We should limit our goals to reducing the violence. Most of the violence against civilians comes from Al Qaeda, which depends upon the support of the Sunni community.

We are largely responsible for the violence against civilians. When Al Qaeda decided to kill Shia civilians in order to start a civil war, we failed to stop them. We failed because we refused to go after the Sunni leadership, especially the religious leaders, that supported Al Qaeda. Instead, we negotiated behind the scenes with them. Then, when the Sunnis failed to gather many seats in parliament, we forced the Shia to give Sunnis cabinet positions out of proportion to their seats in parliament in order to appease the Sunnis. The Sunnis learned from this that violence will achieve political power for them when they can't get the votes.

To correct this situation, the US should side with the Shia, destroy Al Qaeda and the Sunni leadership that supports it, and get out. Iraq will continue to be corrupt, unfair and incompetent, but other than Israel, no country in the Middle East is less so.

Roger D. McKinney
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