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How to Win in Iraq for Dummies
December 16, 2006 7:14 AM   Subscribe

Capt. Travis Patriquin's PowerPoint presentation (.pdf file) is a guide to victory in Anbar province. But But Patriquin will not see victory in Iraq. He was killed by [an] improvised explosive device last Wednesday.
posted by spitbull (40 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Corrected link.

Somewhat newsfilter-y & Iraq-y. But hey, it's a big world.
posted by dash_slot- at 7:25 AM on December 16, 2006


I think the powerpoint itself transcends "newsfiltery." It's an amazingly interesting perspective.
posted by spitbull at 7:27 AM on December 16, 2006


This was both fascinating and moving at the same time. Thank you for posting it.
posted by greycap at 7:40 AM on December 16, 2006


Wow. I was ready to get all annoyed about this, but this guy makes sense. Wich, when it comes to iraq, is quite rare.
posted by svenni at 7:49 AM on December 16, 2006


Holy cow that was awesome.

Fantastic post.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:50 AM on December 16, 2006


"The creator of this PowerPoint presentation, 'How to Win in Al Anbar,' was Capt. Travis Patriquin.

But Patriquin will not see victory in Iraq. He was killed by...[an] improvised explosive device..."


Tragic.
posted by ericb at 7:56 AM on December 16, 2006


Sad story.
posted by chunking express at 8:01 AM on December 16, 2006


I really wish it was so straightforward - train the Iraqi men as policemen, and he can tell the insurgents apart from the citizens.

Sadly, some news stories indicate that men in Police uniforms are kidnapping, torturing & murdering.

So, indeed it may be truee that the trained Iraqi policemaen are telling the difference - and then attacking the civilians anyway.

It really is very complex. Powerpoint likely cannot handle the details.

I wish Capt. Travis Patriquin didn't have to die prematurely, as I wish that many thousand others hadn't, too.
posted by dash_slot- at 8:02 AM on December 16, 2006


Sadly, some news stories indicate that men in Police uniforms are kidnapping, torturing & murdering. So, indeed it may be truee that the trained Iraqi policemaen are telling the difference - and then attacking the civilians anyway.

...because, clearly, only Iraqi police officers could possibly get their hands on a police uniform.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:19 AM on December 16, 2006


It's revealing that he's conflated "insurgent" with "terrorist" by the eighth panel.
posted by dydecker at 8:19 AM on December 16, 2006


Finally a presentation Bush can understand!
posted by null terminated at 8:24 AM on December 16, 2006


My understanding is that the problematic security forces are in the Baghdad area, where Shia security forces are kidnapping in retaliation for Sunni insurgent bombings. Anbar is more homogenous, so I think local policing could reduce violence within the province. I wonder about what the Sunni militias would do once they were running the police. If I were a Sunni leader in control of Anbar I would consider funneling fighters and weapons into Baghdad or Kirkuk to force other groups to leave in advance of a possible partition.
posted by thrako at 8:30 AM on December 16, 2006


Sadly, some news stories indicate that men in Police uniforms are kidnapping, torturing & murdering. So, indeed it may be truee that the trained Iraqi policemaen are telling the difference - and then attacking the civilians anyway.

...because, clearly, only Iraqi police officers could possibly get their hands on a police uniform.


Look, I'm not gonna refute each point, but: even the new harder to fake uniforms have issues of verifiability. Yes, insurgents and/or terrorists are buying fakes on the market. Frankly, by the time you are challenging some tooled-up goon in a 4WD about his uniform, it's too bloody late. He's all "you calling me a pikey?" and you're all "This is my best impression of a colander".
posted by dash_slot- at 8:49 AM on December 16, 2006 [2 favorites]


Wow.
Wow.
Wow.

That was amazing.

I didn't know whether to cry or cheer.

Excellent poet.
posted by squidfartz at 8:57 AM on December 16, 2006


post.

Damn!
posted by squidfartz at 8:58 AM on December 16, 2006


Saw this the other day; beautiful presentation, although others are right in noting that its solution is fairly specific to a homogenous region like Anbar.

If we had just treated Baghdad like Belfast early on, we might have had a better shot at creating a police force there.
posted by xthlc at 9:41 AM on December 16, 2006


Capt. Patriquin is trying. Or, was trying.

However.

He was approximately 27-28 years old. He had a college degree, from some random state university in the U.S., and it was probably in some field like English. He exercises a lot. He had worse information about the situation in Iraq than any news junkie in the U.S. would have. His perspective was deeply limited to what he knows, which is the Marine Corps. (I have no specific information about this guy, but that's a portrait of Marine Captains.)

Truth: Iraq is in a full-fledged civil war. The Shiites, who represent the majority of the population, are busy massacring the Sunnis, who represent the majority of the upper class, wealthy Iraqis. Both sides take occasional potshots at the American occupying forces. The Sunnis take more potshots at the Americans, because they perceive, correctly, that the Americans are on the side of the Shiites.

The largely-Shiite Iraqi Army and largely-Shiite police are both busily engaged in trying to exterminate the Sunni population. Bold as day, Iraqi police who are on-duty and being paid are kidnapping and torturing to death as many Sunnis as they can find. If you're a Sunni, and you're arrested by the official police in Iraq, you can expect to be found dumped in the river the next day, with drill holes in your head and kneecaps, bullet holes in your chest, and still wearing official police handcuffs.

If you're an Iraqi police officer, and you are kidnapped by the Sunnis (who aren't operating as an official wing of the Iraqi government), you can be expected to be found the next day with your head separated from your body.

Training more police isn't going to solve the problem for the Americans. If the U.S. succeeds in helping the Shiites exterminate the Sunni population in Iraq, the Shiites, lacking any Sunni foes, will then take more issue with the American occupying forces. The violence against Americans is pretty much a constant, independent of what happens internally, because EVERYONE in Iraq wants the U.S. forces out.

So. Anbar, which the Marines are trying to tame, is mostly Sunni. What the deceased Captain is trying to say is, "Get the Sunnis to join the police, so they'll keep other Sunnis from shooting at us and trying to blow us up." A fine sentiment. But this supposes that Sunni policemen would be loyal to the Shiite central government and support its aims. Why would they do that? What would be in it for them? Rather, Sunni police would simply not see other Sunnis setting up bombs to blow up American convoys.

It's the same problem as trying to give speeding tickets to cops. For some reason, it's very hard to police traffic violations by U.S. police officers. Hiring more police officers does NOT help this problem, oddly enough, since all hired police officers immediately acquire the same blindness as their brethren had.

There is no problem in Iraq that can be solved by hiring more Iraqi police officers. Except unemployment, maybe.
posted by jellicle at 9:45 AM on December 16, 2006 [4 favorites]


The best point he makes it that things might have been better "if he'd done this three years ago." Maybe, but it's too late now.

His second-best point is about the contractors. They have centuries of construction experience going back to when they invented civilization. Instead of involving Iraqi companies in reconstructing their own country, we turned to cronyism, war profiteering, and corruption.

The "good guys/bad guys" characterization is as childish as the drawing style. All of the insurgents "like chaos and power"? None of them are angry because the US invaded their country on false pretenses? None of the Sunni insurgents are scared of Shia payback for abuses committed when the Sunnis were in power? Using "the terrorist" oversimplifies a complex situation.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:00 AM on December 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


[fixed the FPP link]
posted by jessamyn at 10:30 AM on December 16, 2006


I'm sorry, jellicle. A link to your pdf/ppt?
posted by dozo at 10:31 AM on December 16, 2006


Ditto jellicle and kirkaracha. But also ditto dydecker.

This is probably something that would help CPT Patriquin's job in his local area, at the cost, of course, of the political goal of creating a central government backed by a secularized (or at least ecumenical) IA. He does clearly point out how the IA goal interferes with the IP goal (and vice versa), which says something about the overall occupation.

I'm a bit worried this is getting overplayed as a tribute to Patriquin's death. Noble it may be, but his analysis speaks specifically to his mission and should be seen in that context.
posted by dhartung at 11:26 AM on December 16, 2006


His death is very sad but, to his credit that's the one of the best explainations I've yet heard as to why the U.S. seems unable to get any traction with the Iraq people and the powerpoint presentation seems designed to get through to even the most brain dead people.
But will they listen to anything, ever? No, because they are criminal and insane. Saving lives (American or Iraqi) is for pussy liberals.
posted by Skygazer at 12:08 PM on December 16, 2006


Local Marine now accused killer: Memories of Iraq bloodshed haunted vet charged in girlfriend's death, comrades say
posted by homunculus at 12:09 PM on December 16, 2006


kirkaracha: Using "the terrorist" oversimplifies a complex situation.

I think that just comes from Captain Patriquin's trying to get through to his intended audience.
posted by Skygazer at 12:11 PM on December 16, 2006


Great power point presentation. I hope someone out there is checking if it's worth doing.
posted by furtive at 1:07 PM on December 16, 2006


Thanks Jessamyn.
posted by spitbull at 1:18 PM on December 16, 2006


Geez, we're reduced to hoping that someone checks a powerpoint now. Is this how we won WW2? I think not.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:01 PM on December 16, 2006


So. Anbar, which the Marines are trying to tame, is mostly Sunni. What the deceased Captain is trying to say is, "Get the Sunnis to join the police, so they'll keep other Sunnis from shooting at us and trying to blow us up."

Well, right, it would be nice if they stopped shooting at US, however they're not going to stop shooting at the Shia (Muhammad in the presentation). So what happens if some US neutral force starts carrying raids from Anbar on Baghdad? would the US try to protect the Shia?

It would be nice if this method worked, but I don't think it would be very effective, and it wouldn't solve any problems in Baghdad.

In reality, the US could simply withdraw from Anbar and it seems like the effect on the rest of the country would be exactly the same.
posted by delmoi at 3:01 PM on December 16, 2006


Capt. Patriquin is trying. Or, was trying. However. He was approximately 27-28 years old. He had a college degree, from some random state university in the U.S., and it was probably in some field like English.

Wow, that's a patronizing remark. Especially from someone who seems to have had considerable difficulty following Patriquin's powerpoint presentation.

What the deceased Captain is trying to say is, "Get the Sunnis to join the police, so they'll keep other Sunnis from shooting at us and trying to blow us up." A fine sentiment. But this supposes that Sunni policemen would be loyal to the Shiite central government and support its aims. Why would they do that?

It shouldn't be hard to see that Patriquin's proposal is an effort to address precisely this question--and his answer is not to "hire more Sunni" police. Patriquin's proposal is to use the Sunni "militias" that gather around "shieks" as police. Patriquin seems to believe that these shieks have been running things in Iraq for 14,000 years (a bit of a stretch, I suppose), and that they tend to have a practical attitude that protects their own interests. The sort of men who'd like to see some projects sent to the village from the central government, and who are in general less interested in carrying out vendettas or acting on the basis of religious fervor.

I have little clue as to whether or to what degree such men really exist in Iraq, but clearly Patriquin thinks they do, and that they've been overlooked as a key to dealing with the insurgency. Wishful thinking? Maybe. But I'm guessing that he's a bit more clued in about this than the average American news junkie with an ivy league credential.

And by the way: Patriquin was 32 and attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California and officer school at Fort Benning GA. He spoke Arabic, Spanish, two Central American Indian dialects and Portuguese.

He neither attended any random state university, nor majored in English. I however did both. RSU taught me to read things (including powerpoint presentations) carefully, and to check my facts, rather than making stuff up about people with whom I disagree.
posted by washburn at 3:05 PM on December 16, 2006 [10 favorites]


Nicely said, washburn.
posted by spitbull at 3:15 PM on December 16, 2006


Thank you, washburn.
posted by Dark Messiah at 5:32 PM on December 16, 2006


washburn, that is perhaps the biggest smackdown I've ever seen on MeFi in my entire life.

And spitbull, excellent post. Poignant.
posted by wolftrouble at 7:20 PM on December 16, 2006


victory?
posted by altman at 12:34 AM on December 17, 2006


Gingrich just brought this up on Meet The Press as an example of how US policy in general is hopelessly "broken."
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:43 AM on December 17, 2006


Troops to serve unprecedented third tour in Iraq
posted by homunculus at 11:26 AM on December 17, 2006


washburn, that was very well put.

And thank you for the post.
posted by ruelle at 2:05 PM on December 17, 2006


Third tour? I work with a lady whose son, a Ranger, is about to go over for the seventh time since late '01. Most of that was the 'Stan, but still, geez.
posted by pax digita at 5:00 PM on December 17, 2006


Disillusionment with war is an overlooked psychological liability on the battlefield, experts say -- and could lead to higher rates of PTSD among U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
posted by homunculus at 10:12 PM on December 20, 2006


What Has Bush Learned From His Mistakes? Nothing.
posted by homunculus at 11:02 PM on December 20, 2006


Thanks homunculus for the Salon link about ptsd and disillusionment. Would make a good front page post, especially with a couple more links on the issue.
posted by washburn at 9:20 AM on December 23, 2006


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