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Was It Abuse, Really? And What Will It Take to Maintain Control in the Future?

Dan Drezner the other day, posts a link to a Boston Globe Article that by some weird methods tries to give us some sense of the Iraqi street. [1].  The article is a lot less informative than it attempts to be, at least in a literal sense, and there’s certainly an anti-Bush, Anti-American bias in the way things are worded. (What would one expect from a paper that’s been in John Kerry’s hip pocket for the last decade, after all?) But it does at least give us a glimpse:

“Sa’ad Saddam, a merchant in the Iraqi capital’s notorious Thieves Market, normally has nothing polite to say about his country’s rulers.
So he was surprised yesterday to find himself hopeful about interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s new Iraqi government — not because he cared about the symbolic passing of sovereignty, but because he was thrilled to see Iraqi police officers pistol-whipping suspected carjackers near his clothing stand the day before.”

To which I respond, rather off the cuff:

I don’t have this lightbulb fully thought through yet… but I’m bothered by the undercurrent of these comments. Could this be showing us something of the Arab mentality… Something that bears directly on the supposed abuses at Abu Girabe, by way of Arabic Culture in general?

Clearly, the slimeballs there don’t react well to what we would consider lawful arrest and confinement. It’s simply ineffective. Hell, these people are willing to kill themselves in the process of taking out small numbers of their opposition. What would stop or even slow such a misguided thought process, and the actions resulting from it?

And just as clearly, the gent in the article is pleased someone is willing to take steps to gain control of the situation… Steps which would be considered excessive in our own country and culture. Possibly, this is due to the way things have been run there for the last 20+ years under Saddam, and further back under his predecessors… Or perhaps it’s due to some other aspect of the Arab Psyche, or a combo of the two, I don’t know… Something cultural, perhaps.

But is it possible, that our judgments about what is and is not excessive and abusive, be somewhat out of touch with the realities of the situation, there?

Sometimes, in a noisy environment, one needs to shout, just to be heard. Can it be that in an admittedly violent environment such as many Middle Eastern countries are these days, one needs to be more violent than usual to gather any respect?

This seems an important question not only when assessing Abu Girabe, but also in assessing what it will take to gain and retain control of the situation over there going forward.

Put another way, the rebels there are desperate for control. Given the propensity for violence noted, what form will that desperation take, and what will be required to control it?

It’ll be interesting watching what goes forward with Iyad Allawi’s new Iraqi government in place. How will our own left react to the actions of his government as they try and sit on the Islamo-Facists our left has been a cheering section for, for so long?