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'Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency in Iraq' ()

U.S.'s Cultural Ignorance Fuels Iraq Insurgency

Apr 28, 2006 (Morning Edition)

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The U.S. military's lack of understanding about Iraqi culture helped create the conditions for the insurgency that U.S. forces face there, according to a military adviser who has written a new book about the insurgency.

Between November 2003 and September 2005, professor Ahmed Hashim worked with U.S. troops in Iraq. His job was to try to understand the insurgents and what motivates them His new book is called Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency in Iraq.

Hashim lists about 20 groups of insurgents, including nationalists, former Baathists, tribal-based insurgents and religious extremists. The groups say they want the United States out of Iraq, and they reject the U.S.-backed government, but they don't agree on what they do want.

"If we were out of the picture, some of the insurgent groups could engage in bloodshed against one another because they have such different and disparate political views of the future of Iraq," Hashim says.

Hashim, who teaches at the Naval War College, says he was surprised by how little the U.S. military understands about the culture, or "human terrain," of Iraq. That includes "societal networks, relations between tribes and within tribes, kinship ties... what is it people are fighting for?"

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