Neither the United States nor the United Kingdom understands their history!
Given the shock of both liberals (e.g. Tony Blair) and neo-conservatives (e.g. William Kristol) to the events unfolding in Egypt, Libya, Iraq, they should take pause in urging the United States to involve itself in the affairs of Syria.
In the United States Government there are those who think intervening to end the violence is Syria is the right and proper course. Of course most have never served in uniform.
Most can speak about the absolutes of counter insurgency having never had to make it work. Most believed that democracy would spring forth confluence of Tigris and Euphrates if we liberated Iraq; likewise they believe is Assad is overthrow suddenly Syria will become the beacon of democracy in the Middle East.
Their naïvete about Syria is surpassed only by their naivete about Iraq.
Unlike Colonel Lang, I am not an expert concerning the Middle East; but at least I admit such a deficiency, unlike those who wish to see the United States stick our nose into the business of every country who does something they find reprehensible.
But I do consider myself knowledgeable about not only the history of the United States but also the history of the United Kingdom. Despite what Paul Wolfowitz and other might think democracy did not spring forth from the James River in 1619; in fact what passed as representative government in 1619 in Jamestown probably would not pass muster of the Supreme Court. Nor did parliamentary democracy spring forth from the field of Runnymede in 1215.
What we view as democracy is not really democracy by definition rather we are a representative republic. The United Kingdom is a parliamentary monarchy, in which the citizens elect Members of Parliament to represent them at Westminster. What we call democracy today has developed and evolved over four centuries in the United States and over almost nine centuries in the United Kingdom.
Our democratic institutions reflect our Western and Christian heritage. They reflect the changing mores of our societies and our citizens.
Iraq is a different country, it has been shaped by a different history, it reflects the mores of the Arab culture and the influence of Islam.
The slide contained in this entry shows three slides developed by the author prior to deploying to Iraq in 2004 to serve as a strategic planner. I attempted to use these slides to persuade those with whom I worked that rather than creating a little America in the Middle East we would do well take a step back an attempt to understand Iraq’s history. This was not well received by my fellow Americans nor was it well received by the Brits, although it can be surmised that perhaps they were remembering their own misadventures in Iraq in the years after World War I.
It was George Santayana who reminded us that those who failed to study history are condemned to repeat it. Unfortunately for us Americans failure to understand our own history makes unable to appreciate others history. This is not the first time we have made this mistake and unfortunately I have little faith that we will not repeat it.