A key section of this memo offers the Bush administration’s strategy for “Public Diplomacy to Counter Insurgency in Iraq.” Far from “thinking bigger,” the recommendations for defeating the insurgency are small-minded, unambitious, and disconnected from reality. Here are Hughes’ three ideas:
- Substantially expand…[the] “Micro scholarship” program…targeted at youth in key disadvantaged areas in Iraq, such as Sadr City or Anbar Governorate.”
- Create a fund to support media projects by Iraqis, such as documentaries, short films, animation, audio-visual productions and other material that would show Iraq’s reality to pan-Arab and pan-Islamic audiences.
- Revive book publishing in Iraq to fill the intellectual vacuum…and support…Iraq’s hard-pressed intellectuals.
These are all nice ideas in theory, but the problems affecting Iraqi society go much deeper and are far more serious that the administration wants to admit. Iraq is in a state of endemic chaos, marked by four raging internal conflicts, ethnic cleansing, and few significant advances in Iraq’s economic reconstruction.
These recommendations fail to scratch the surface of the underlying problems and do not address what the recent Iraq NIE described as “a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world.” Hughes’ memo sadly reveals that the administration is not “thinking big” enough about the problems resulting from our current occupation of Iraq. To get things right in Iraq, we need to embrace a complete shift in strategy and adopt a policy of strategic redeployment.
– Brian Katulis