The al-Ameriki Tribe

So I'm reading the comments at Gateway Pundit and I come across a commenter who says I should do a bit of research on the al-Ameriki tribe. Interesting. So I did a search. And what did I come up with? A wiky entry to start. It is short. So here it is:

The Al-Ameriki tribe is a name (properly, a nickname) given by native Iraqis to United States soldiers and other American personnel occupying Iraq.
That is a start. Perhaps we can find out more.

The wiki suggests this Phil Carter article in Slate. It was written in Nov. of 2007 when things were still looking grim in Iraq. The situation was improving but there was no certainty that a corner had been turned. So lets have a look.

Political reconciliation efforts have produced qualified successes in Anbar, Baghdad, and Diyala. Our security work complemented these political deals by rewarding the sheiks who worked with us, inducing many to stop actively or passively supporting the insurgency. These deals represent the increasing pragmatism of Sunni leaders who realize that the Shiite state is a fait accompli, and they must therefore do what they can to reconcile with each other and with the Americans (who they call the "al-Ameriki tribe") in order to survive.
We have tribal status in Iraq. Interesting.

Michael Yon has more from July of 2007.

The big news on the streets today is that the people of Baqubah are generally ecstatic, although many hold in reserve a serious concern that we will abandon them again. For many Iraqis, we have morphed from being invaders to occupiers to members of a tribe. I call it the "al Ameriki tribe," or "tribe America."

I've seen this kind of progression in Mosul, out in Anbar and other places, and when I ask our military leaders if they have sensed any shift, many have said, yes, they too sense that Iraqis view us differently. In the context of sectarian and tribal strife, we are the tribe that people can--more or less and with giant caveats--rely on.

Most Iraqis I talk with acknowledge that if it was ever about the oil, it's not now. Not mostly anyway. It clearly would have been cheaper just to buy the oil or invade somewhere easier that has more. Similarly, most Iraqis seem now to realize that we really don't want to stay here, and that many of us can't wait to get back home. They realize that we are not resolved to stay, but are impatient to drive down to Kuwait and sail away. And when they consider the Americans who actually deal with Iraqis every day, the Iraqis can no longer deny that we really do want them to succeed. But we want them to succeed without us. We want to see their streets are clean and safe, their grass is green, and their birds are singing. We want to see that on television. Not in person. We don't want to be here. We tell them that every day. It finally has settled in that we are telling the truth.

Now that all those realizations and more have settled in, the dynamics here are changing in palpable ways.

There is more in his report about how the "insurgency" essentially defeated itself. Insurgencies typically spout high ideals while recruiting criminals. They have to. Criminals are used to evading the government. The question always is: can the criminals be disciplined? Will they follow orders? Will the criminals who have advanced in the organization give good orders? Will they follow the plan? Or will they revert to criminal depredations with the increased power that being part of a shadow government gives them?

In the Iraq insurgency the criminals got the upper hand. It has been their downfall.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon on 07.13.08 at 09:18 AM










Comments

That was something missed last year: The Kazali network takedown which preceded the surge by a few months. That was Sadr's main method of supplying the insurgency from the south, and taking that network apart started months before the surge began. By that time al Sadr's base had been evaporating out from under him, so hitting the Kazali brothers who were high in his group meant that things were going to get tough on Sadr.

Taking down the criminal enterprises is a major way to stem an insurgency... and killing off an insurgency means that you are trying to convince criminals to stay just regular commercial criminals instead of going into murder for fun and profit. The hard part of Iraq is stemming the corruption that is rampant across the ME. If that can be done to, say, the extent of the NOLA PD or Detroit PD, then Iraq will have a fighting chance... and be unique in the ME.

ajacksonian   ·  July 13, 2008 3:48 PM

"Insurgencies typically spout high ideals while recruiting criminals. They have to. Criminals are used to evading the government. The question always is: can the criminals be disciplined? Will they follow orders? Will the criminals who have advanced in the organization give good orders? Will they follow the plan? Or will they revert to criminal depredations with the increased power that being part of a shadow government gives them?"

If I wanted to agree with the assertion, I'd have to ask who were the criminals in the uS revolution? A few smugglers, maybe some illegal brewers or trappers? Perhaps I just don;t know enough particulars, but it seems a reasonable test of the theory.

Bellisaurius   ·  July 14, 2008 1:57 PM

"Insurgencies typically spout high ideals while recruiting criminals. They have to. Criminals are used to evading the government. The question always is: can the criminals be disciplined? Will they follow orders? Will the criminals who have advanced in the organization give good orders? Will they follow the plan? Or will they revert to criminal depredations with the increased power that being part of a shadow government gives them?"

If I wanted to agree with the assertion, I'd have to ask who were the criminals in the uS revolution? A few smugglers, maybe some illegal brewers or trappers? Perhaps I just don;t know enough particulars, but it seems a reasonable test of the theory.

Bellisaurius   ·  July 14, 2008 2:00 PM

"Insurgencies typically spout high ideals while recruiting criminals. They have to. Criminals are used to evading the government. The question always is: can the criminals be disciplined? Will they follow orders? Will the criminals who have advanced in the organization give good orders? Will they follow the plan? Or will they revert to criminal depredations with the increased power that being part of a shadow government gives them?"

If I wanted to agree with the assertion, I'd have to ask who were the criminals in the uS revolution? A few smugglers, maybe some illegal brewers or trappers? Perhaps I just don;t know enough particulars, but it seems a reasonable test of the theory.

Bellisaurius   ·  July 14, 2008 2:00 PM

I am recalling the 100,000 prisoners Saddam let free just before the American troops arrived in Baghdad, and what effect they have had on subsequent events.

Bellisarius - yes, some smugglers, and roughnecks and criminals of various sorts in the seaport cities. Such are unreliable as regular troops, but are present in all societies and choose temporary sides. They tend to go where they can make the most money. In the American Revolution, we had criminal types on both sides, and some playing different hands at different times. I imagine we also benefited from the actions of some criminal types in Iraq from time to time.

With all that said, do you seriously think that the American Revolution and the insurgency in Iraq were populated with the same percentage of criminals? If you are the bellisaurius from Volokh, I wouldn't have thought that was your style.

Assistant Village Idiot   ·  July 14, 2008 2:37 PM

"With all that said, do you seriously think that the American Revolution and the insurgency in Iraq were populated with the same percentage of criminals? If you are the bellisaurius from Volokh, I wouldn't have thought that was your style."

Oh, god no. I don't think the two groups have morally equivalent folks at all. I would, however, entertain the idea that the iraqi insurgents are more idealistic than criminal, but that only makes it worse for me since crooks can sometimes be bought off, and I generally believe idealists cause more damage in the end.

My main line of thought was to offer a counterpoint in the example of the US revolution (albeit in a somewhat convoluted thought exercise), so most folks would have to conclude that an insurgency doesn't necessarily need to be run by the bad guys.

btw, I'm glad to be recognized across blogs. I hope it's for being more or less level-headed.

bellisaurius   ·  July 14, 2008 4:10 PM

bellisaurius,

B.H.L. Hart discusses the ubiquity of criminals in insurgencies and why that makes it so hard for governance post insurgency in his book "Strategy".

France post WW2 is a striking example. Or Spain post Napoleon. In America we were rather lucky the criminals didn't get the upper hand although I will note that irregulars/criminals were a big problem post the US Civil War. The James-Younger Gang is a prime example. There were others.

M. Simon   ·  July 14, 2008 5:18 PM

My main line of thought was to offer a counterpoint in the example of the US revolution (albeit in a somewhat convoluted thought exercise), so most folks would have to conclude that an insurgency doesn't necessarily need to be run by the bad guys.

Only a moral people can have successful revolutions. Private property has to be a core value or the result is a degeneration into wholesale thievery. Socialism.

I think being a sea trade culture is critical. It tends to impose honest dealings across cultures and tribes. Tribal or factional cultures tend to degenerate into thievery.

M. Simon   ·  July 15, 2008 10:54 AM

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