About those expert-sounding discussions of Iraq’s politics by Americans…
Sites such as Abu Muqawama often have discussions of Iraq politics (an example here). One the interesting aspects of these is the confidence of the participants in their understanding of Iraq’s society, in their forecasts about the evolution of Iraq’s politics. How many of them speak the languages of Iraq? How many know its history and culture? Certainly some, but not necessarily the ones with the greatest self-confidence in their predictions.
Contrast that with the similar discussions of US politics by Americans. How many Americans correctly forecast the winner of the primaries before the first one, only five months ago (New Hampshire on 8 January)? Accurate forecasts about our own society is almost impossible. How much more difficult is forecasting events in a far-distant land, whose culture and history are so unlike our own?
Things we do not understand so often seem simple — other people’s businesses, other people’s societies, other people’s marriages. I described another example of this in A NY Times reporter proves that we still do not understand Iraq.
Do we see hubris at work here? Might this hubris, even arrogance, limit the effectiveness of our COIN operations? As the saying goes: it’s not what we don’t know that sinks us, it’s what we know that ain’t so.
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For more information about the Iraq War
- My posts about the war
- Important articles about the Iraq War– include some about our use of airpower.
- Our goals and benchmarks, and reports about progress towards them