I’ve come to a better understanding of the war. Ironically it started with comments by Hillary Clinton. What struck me was that for the first time I can recall I actually agreed with something she had to say. She was speaking at a rally and made the comment that the troops had not failed, but that the Iraqi government had failed. I think that on several levels this is both accurate and unsurprising. Our military has not successfully rebuilt a country since WWII and those were long arduous tasks at best. Our military is ill-equipped to deal with nation-building. Lets face it armies, by design, destroy nations, not build them and ours is the best ever at the former. The Iraqi’s have failed themselves, but it is not because of a lack of desire. I firmly believe that the vast majority of Iraqi’s want peace more than anything else these days. The history, culture and experience of the Iraqi people is conspiring against them. What is so difficult for the typical American to understand is that the typical Iraqi values family and the group before self. This is such a foreign concept to a western civilization that prizes the accomplishments and rights of the individual. For us to try to install such a government that puts the individual first is ignoring the fundamental beliefs of the culture we are attempting to help. Of course there’s going to be friction, even if Iraqi’s shared 99% of western beliefs, but when our foundation is such a polar opposite we can only expect failure. That there are such myriad cacophony gelling into insurgency should not come as a shock.

Reporter Richard Engel’s War Diaries brings to light another important concept that should be more obvious. Engel is interviewing troops who make the point that you can’t support the troops and not the war. The two are not mutually exclusive. The troops are, in essence, the war or perhaps our extended American-ness in the middle of the Iraqi conflict. Another enlightening moment comes from what Engel saw on the ground during the famous scene of Iraqi’s pulling down Saddam’s statue. His prescient take was a group of Shiites finally in power after 1300 years under Sunni rule. He saw the first strike in the Iraqi civil war. We are now caught up in that war with both sides trying to play us to their advantage. Add in the mix of foreign insurgents who’s only goal is to disrupt any potential progress and it is simple to see that any of the current and former plans are somewhat naive.