I've been watching the General Patraeus/Ambassador Crocker briefings this morning on capital hill and was glad that the issue of, "The Sons of Iraq" was addressed as this group hasn't received enough attention.
They are former Sunni militiamen (roughly 90,000 strong) who use to fight the U.S./Iraqi military before brokering a deal with the coalition forces. Their loyalty and commitment is in question because they are being paid, yes paid by your tax dollars. They receive $300 dollar per person a month which is nearly as much as I receive in disability payments as an American citizen!!! It isn't even money that comes out of the pockets of tax payers' pockets, it's money that I have paid into the system before I became disabled. Yet we can barely pay our bills and afford the gas to get around in our one car. The total pay-roll for the "Sons of Iraq" is roughly $16 million a month.
General Patraeus said that Iraq is now paying some of these "fees" but that's not any better!! We can not expect the Iraqi government to pull itself out of corruption by getting them to pick up these pay-offs!! It just adds another layer of dysfunction to an already chaotic and confusing administration. It also encourages corruption to continue in the Iraqi police forces who often have to bribe their superiors to be promoted. In this kind of situation it is not at all surprising that there hasn't been much progress toward a functioning even nominal Democracy.
To see it another way, the $300 is nearly as much money as some of us are going to receive from the federal government in the form of those rebate checks. However, these guys are getting that equivalent every month whereas our rebate money is a one time deal.
I find it beyond appalling that we are paying off Iraqi gunmen in Iraq while we screw the disabled and needy here at home in America. In addition to not using that money to reinvest in health care, education, rebuilding and our infrastructure that is suffering at the hands of reconstructing Iraq's infrastructure. Buying off your enemy is a terrible long term strategy because it means that you have to pay them indefinitely which is beyond unsustainable. As long as we stay in Iraq we will have to continue these pay-outs and if it's up to McCain we will have to pay them for decades to come. So ask yourself, "Do you want your tax dollars going to questionable militias in Iraq or reinvestments in America to help bring our economy back?"
And what happens when these militias come back and ask for more money? We are basically being extorted by a Sunni mafia and we did it in my opinion out of desperation to make it appear as though we made gains in the Sunni provinces. Yet what most Americans don't know is that it isn't real progress because it didn't come about through a sincere desire from these militias to stop fighting their enemies but is based on bribes.
Some are saying the the ultimate goal is to integrate these fighters into the Iraqi security forces but the Shia dominated government who oversee these security forces isn't excited about bringing their enemies into the fold. And from the Sunni side they are concerned about being involved in security operations that target their brothers in their home regions. Just as we saw over a 1,000 Shia within the army leave their posts when faced with the idea of fighting their fellow Shia brothers in Basra. The army and police are not fully united in loyalty to the the national government and the betterment of Iraq as a whole. They are more concerned about protecting their own ethnic, regional and religious groups.
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