Iraq Afghan Culture the War Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

To be sure, one of the most significant effecters of the cultural experience in Iraq has been the stimulation of more widespread, proliferated and severe violence. This has instigated a widespread change in the experience of Iraqis, who have been subjected to one of the most dangerous periods in the nation's history. Accordingly, a study by Roberts et al. (2004) used cluster household sampling in Iraq to measure the mortality rate both before and after the 2003 invasion. The study found that "the risk of death was estimated to be 2 5-fold (95% CI 1-6 -- 4-2) higher after the invasion when compared with the preinvasion period. Two-thirds of all violent deaths were reported in one cluster in the city of Falluja. If we exclude the Falluja data, the risk of death is 1 5-fold (1-1 -- 2-3) higher after the invasion. We estimate that 98000 more deaths than expected (8000 -- 194000) happened after the invasion outside of Falluja and far more if the outlier Falluja cluster is included." (Roberts et al., 1857)

Where culture is concerned, this would produce a wholesale disruption of families, a destruction of communities, a dismantling of public governing agencies and, now six years into the war, the creation of a generation of Iraqi adolescents who have only known a life of armed combat. To be sure, this differentiates present-day Iraq from a nation that a decade ago stood in turmoil but with a relative societal stability. The transfer of power and the enervation of violent resistance produced since the war's initiation denote a far different cultural response to a society that is today without shape or civic definition.

Referring once again to the study by Roberts et al., we note that the future outlook for the culture of Iraq is certain to be one of economic depression, social disorder and psychological frustration. Together, these conditions will produce a culture impinged upon by violence, resentment, structural weakness and a poorly defined seat of power. The massive amount of casualties produced by the conflict and the manner in which these causalities have been produced will have a lasting impact on the psyche of the Iraqi people and of the state of Iraq. As Roberts et al. report, "making conservative assumptions, we think that about 100000 excess deaths, or more have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most violent deaths." (Roberts et al., 1861) Though no concrete number exists listing the total number of Iraqi lives lost, it is certain that the number of those lost directly to the invasion is a cost that will weigh heavily on the experience of those orphaned, widowed or left without children by the invasion.

This is to say that the future cultural outlook for Iraq, as well as for Afghanistan, is one likely to be defined by a strong minority of individuals who have emerged in response to the aggression of American invaders. Indeed, the amount of civilian dead accumulated over the course of this war has ensured that those modern or secular Islamists who previously populated the cities and universities of Iraq are likelier fodder today for participation in the cultural conflict with Iraq. As Vlahos observes, "the moderate Islamist is ignored -- even denied -- by U.S. statecraft but the broader movement for change within Islam has a strong and vital element that is pluralistic and non-violent. Its quietude makes it vulnerable, however, to the radical Islamists, who insist that theirs is the only way to defend a Muslim World under attack from the United States of America needs to reach out to peaceful Islamists or risk change in Islam that is wholly radicalized." (Vlahos, 1) Of course, at this juncture, much of the damage which has be n done in Iraq is irreparable from a cultural standpoint. The Iraqi people will carry forward the burden of this war on their psyche and in their way of life. So too will the people of Afghanistan.

And yet, for both, the uncertainty of outcomes remains so because both nations are still in a state of war. Permeated by foreign invaders, bubbling over with tribal warring and likely to experience the tumult of civil unrest even for years to follow the eventual departure of occupiers, these nations are a demonstration of the failed theory driving the United States in its global conflict. Its War On Terror, like the nation-building and colonial theories of the past, has toppled under the weight of its own rhetoric. The idea that one culture can, or should, be supplanted by another is refuted soundly by the cultural change taking place in the Muslim world today. Not only are these populations farther away than ever from adopting the values and practices of Western culture, but centuries of their own heritage have been disrupted, dismantled and distorted in the process.

A more intuitive approach to Muslim culture would see the United States approaching the improvement of human rights and political representation in the contexts where it has instead pursued brutal militancy. The actions perpetrated on 9/11 wer a result of the duplicity of which this discussion speaks, with a history of exploitation in the Middle East motivating the political fury that manifest so violently. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the U.S. To engage the international community in efforts to establish negotiation and discourse even with those governments with whom there are fundamental philosophical disagreements. This is not a charity to those who would harbor terrorists. Rather, it is a response to the understanding that violence and isolation are the very cultural conditions which have stimulated terrorism.

Indeed, the poorly suited approach taken by the previous administration suggests a certain absence of rational understanding for the cultural realities contributing to the terrorist problem. Quite certainly, these have only grown in scale and intensity. Indeed, the War on Terror has to this point taken an approach to terrorism which does not conform to the expectations of a traditional, and protracted conflict. The current quagmire in Iraq certainly endorses the idea that a more rational orientation, with a long-term plan aimed at providing contingency responses to the flexibility of terrorist cell-groups, might more sufficiently serve policy interests than the current attempts at altering a culture. There had appeared practically no end in sight to a policy approach which pursues a finite goal such as domestic security through the destruction of another ethnic or religious tradition. On the balance, this has suggested a need for a more rational policy approach in this category as the Obama Administration has sought by bringing greater multilateralism to the needs imposed by the conflict and the global threat of terrorism. Indeed, beneath the self-gratifying spin, which was given a loyal soapbox in the form of mainstream media venues such as talk radio and cable news, the Bush Administration's management of military and security policy in both of its invasions has now become a defining aspect of the culture for both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Namely, these invasions would magnify the host of cultural issues impacting the world's Arab population, noting that religious isolation, political disenfranchisement, a cultural resistance to the vagaries of modernization and a host of other instincts promoting resistance to the west have rendered a population that is unwilling to be forced into occupation, capitalism or democratization. (Hoge & Rose 2005) Unfortunately, many biases in the international discourse on the subject tend to foist responsibility dominantly upon the Arab population, making limited acknowledgement of the forces of colonialism and military imposition which have helped to forge a defensive and resentful Arab culture.

Perhaps even as much as the handling of these conflicts, which have truly incited a cultural proclivity toward terrorism on a scale previously unseen, especially in the continually inflamed Iraq, the lead-in to war demonstrates that the will and approach to traditional warfare is itself vulnerable to exploitation. In many ways, this period of conflict was defined and rationalized by the events of September 11th. It was accepted that the world had indeed changed insofar as it was to be seen as now more dangerous. American culture, which in the 1990s was regarded as a beacon in the international community for technological, corporate and human rights progress, took on a far more bellicose, ideologically regressive and pointedly unilateral outlook in the policy eventualities provoked by the attacks. But these changes were not the security inevitabilities of a terrorist attack on American soil as the hawkish representatives of the Bush Administration had argued. In examining the individual conflicts of the War on Terror, especially Iraq, as well as the ideology hanging as a banner over the more protracted War on Terror itself, it is clear that there had been a startling lack of either philosophical or practical realism where the subversion of a centuries old culture is concerned.

The most crucial step that we can take therefore in preventing another…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited:

Gottschalk, P. & Greenberg, G. (2005). Islamophobia. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Hoge, J.F. & Rose, G. (2005). Understanding the War on Terror. Foreign Affairs.

Iraqi News (IN). (2008). Experts assess extent of Iraq's cultural catastrophe five years after the U.S. invasion. Iraqi News. Online at

Mamdani, M. (2004). Good Muslim, Bad Muslim. Random House.

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