Sunday, May 20, 2007

Why Progress In Iraq Is So Slow

Orangeducks, an American contractor in Iraq, makes some practical observations and draws some politically incorrect conclusions about Arab Muslims on the Autonomist website in a post titled, "Life In Iraq, Part II: Civilization of Deception":

"I never had cause to think about what a powerful concept 'Agreement' is until I came to Iraq. Whether some friends agree to meet at a restaurant for lunch, or a supplier agrees to provide 10 truckloads of materials to a jobsite on a specific day, or lease papers are signed on a house, an Agreement gives all parties the incredible power to predict the future. Agreements provide us simple human creatures with the amazing ability to come together and create a shared vision about a future point in time. Then, together as agreed, we can organize and accomplish something towards that point in an otherwise chaotic world fraught with unpredictability.

But in the Middle East, there is no such thing as an Agreement. Whether a verbal commitment or a look straight in the eye or firm handshake or even a written contract, these things here are worth next to nothing. Rather than organizing or finalizing anything, these acts merely serve as a continuation of the struggle by one party to screw the other party more than they plan on getting screwed themselves. Accomplishing a given task, taking pride in one's work, achieving competence, and even basic concepts of economic gain through mutual trade, take a far back seat to the massive satisfaction gained by getting something more out of someone else then they get from you. ...

So, for example, when you are talking to a company president about delivery progress of a critical item by his company to a location, he's getting his information from his assistant, who is getting it from the field supervisor, who is getting it from the guy who is related to the guy who is friends with the guy who owns the trucking company, who gets it from the dispatcher, who gets it from the truck driver (who also happens to be the company president’s nephew, but that's another story). Each and every one of these guys, all the way through the chain, will lie to the guy above him when asked about the delay in shipment (and there IS a delay -- always). In order to save face, each will say whatever they think is good news, no matter how false and misleading it actually is. By the time you talk to the boss, who is also trying to save face with you, there is no relationship between what you are being told and what is really happening -- none.

I had steel prefabricated buildings to construct at project sites throughout Iraq. They were to be ordered from a factory in Kuwait, fabricated, loaded, and trucked to sites in Iraq in 11 weeks. I inquired as to progress at least weekly. I was told when they were ordered, when manufacturing began, when they were completed, when the buildings were staged, when they were loaded onto trucks, and when the trucks were waiting at the Iraq border. Everything was communicated with exact details every step of the way.The trucks were held up at the border for several days, then a week, then two weeks. Excuses abounded. I finally sent a Westerner down to the factory in Kuwait, only to find that the first step -- the order -- had not yet been placed."

Orangeducks gives a quiz at the end:

Q: Why are there no democracies in the Muslim Middle East?

A: Democracies are based on the possibility of mutually held Agreements between people. Democracy is unsustainable in cultures where lying is acceptable and constant.

Q: Why is every Muslim Middle Eastern country characterized by either rigid oppression or chaotic violence?

A: The coercive use of violence is the only way to ensure Muslims in the Middle East will live up to any obligations, including basic social order and function. Middle East countries where chaos currently reigns, like Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan, are merely examples of what Muslims are like without coercion.

Q: How is it that intelligence gathering by Western powers, whether it is about the weapons capabilities of an entire nation, or the simple location of a lone thug, is so constantly stymied and duped in the Middle East?

A: The job of intelligence gatherers is to determine the truth. I wouldn't take that job in the Middle East for all the money in Michael Moore's Halliburton stocks.

Q: Have you ever seen anything that says "Made in Saudi Arabia"? What was the last thing invented or produced by Middle Eastern Muslims that helped advance humankind? Why are they so incompetent at virtually everything?

A: Although some individuals with quality talents certainly exist here, it would be impossible to gather enough in one place to Agree to cooperate in any sort of complex or significant effort. The only time Muslims can stick together long enough to produce anything en masse, like nuclear missiles for "Uncle Mah," is under the threat of force.

Q: Why is it that Muslim leaders can stare the world in the eye and lie through their teeth without even flinching?

A: They're not lying, they are "negotiating" with people they assume to be complete suckers.

Q: Are they right?

A: Good question.

Orangeducks also makes some interesting posts here and here, too.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Almost all of our personnel on the ground are given a course on Arabic culture. Unfortunately, our President was not. Fortunately, we can take solace in the fact that we have done a better job of stabilizing this region than Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire, The Seleucid Empire, The Golden Horde, Tamerlane, The Ottoman Turks, Mohammed, The Medieval Papacy and eight Crusades, imperialist Europe, Napoleon, Hitler, and the Soviet Union. The only people in history to have stablilized the Middle East, namely, Babylon, Assyria, and the Persian Empire, used violence, torture, and intimidation to keep the peace. This is all consistent with Orangeducks' conclusions. If only people would take the time to look at history.
P.S. Sadaam Hussein probably believed that he had WMD's even more than we did. That's just a defect of Arabic culture that will be very hard to erase.

Tue Jul 17, 05:21:00 PM 2007  

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