Dot-Com millionaire and 2d Congressional candidate (Boulder, CO) Jared Polis recently traveled to Iraq to see what he could see. Not part of any CODEL or other 'official' visit, Polis took it upon himself to try to find out the ''ground truth'' in Iraq.
As if you could tell that from the lobby of the al Rashid hotel.
This is the story of a complete idiot- no, more like a lunatic. And one that wants to run for Congress? Somewhat like Mark Cuban, wherein both got rich in spite of themselves, Polis now believes he can take Mark Udall's place as a Congressman from Colorado. His view make Pelosi right of Charleston Heston.
This posting is to try and debunk, debauch, refute, and show you what these people that think that by just going to Iraq in a drive-by makes them immediate experts. FAR FROM IT, POLIS.
A wee bit about said Polis: founded and sold two internet companies (including BlueMountainArts) for around 1.1 billion, combined, his take was a little over 175 million, back in 1999, just prior to the dot-com implosion; founded 2 schools for immigrants and non-English speakers; contributor to Moveon.Org (surprise, surprise- and one of the LARGER ones at that); film-maker wannabe (The Dwarf, anyone?); was on the Colorado State Board of Education; and he's openly gay (this has an important element into his Iraq trip).
So, here's Mr. Richie Rich, scratching for Congress, looking for an 'in', and decides to fund a trip to Iraq; see the natives, bash the Bush, just to say 'been there, seen that'. Unfortunately, about all HE saw was the inside of a hotel and the view from a car window. So, he's ready to be ambassador, now?
So why do I care about this? Because I despise people showboating about the situation over there; needlessly putting themselves at risk, and saying their experts because they've seen 1/1,000th of what actually goes on over there. Its like going to the zoo for the afternoon and then claiming you're an expert zoologist because you spent time in the chimp exhibit.
His two-faced approaches to a 'solution' in Iraq are obvious; among them:
Ok, genius- so WHO exactly is going to provide the training and security? You complain about all the contractors and 'mercenaries' over there- the training and security just doesn't happen without someone to train them! If not the contractors/police experts, then the troops do a great job of it.
Those 'mercenaries' are not hired just by US firms- South African, British, Iraqi, and others hire people from all over to provide expertise and capabilities they themselves don't have access to. Again, an amateur who has no grasp whatsoever of what it takes to do these missions.
Polis says he follows mil-bloggers- for some reason, I highly doubt he follows this one or any others in either military.com or milblogging.com realms.
He posts that the schedule called for 3 days in Iraq, which is hardly long enough to check out a DFAC, let alone get a grasp of the situation. He met for a couple days in Jordan with Iraqi refugees; nowhere does he mention Syria (where quite a few also live) or any of the other GCC countries. Its kinda like trying to find out what America is like by visiting Mexico or Canada.
He also didn't do his homework- he's surprised by the commercial service available from Amman; had he tried another airline we know *grin* I would have liked to have heard his comments about THAT. Its readily apparent that he went in with the expectation that he was dropping into the middle of Iwo- and we can blame the MSM (MTBIH) for this; additionally, I blame him for the sources he obviously chose.
Another focus he had- meeting and trying to 'understand' what is against the gay and lesbian Iraqi's in Baghdad; uh, Polis, Muslims as a whole have a HUGE problem- why not just visit say, Yemen? You'd get the same results. Or, say, Saudi. But, I highly doubt that the Saudi embassy would allow an openly gay person into the country (but, I'm not certain- but wouldn't surprise me). Try visiting Iran- you could be the first gay person there.
It appears he's gotten most of his information from books like FIASCO.. I recommend a few others- ever considered COBRA II? how about BLOG OF WAR? Try learning about VALOR in life, huh?
The configuration was a like a normal airport
he says of Baghdad Airport; what did you expect? Mos Eisley? He was shocked that he could use an automated kiosk in Amman to get his boarding pass.
His comments on contractors are surprisingly stupid-
Apparently, this is modern warfare. Private armies hired by nation states and controlled by corporations. For example, one of our checkpoints was staffed entirely by a Guatemalan contingent of armed people not under the flag of Guatemala or the UN, but rather under the flag of their contractor. Yes, presumably they were working for either the US or the Iraqi Defense ministry, but fundamentally they would work for whoever would pay their bills, and their uniforms proudly sported their logo.
The contractors owe allegiance to the corporations who employ them more than any particular nation state. More scary yet, the corporations who employ them and profit from marking up their labor create a corporate-military complex that can seek to perpetuate policies than increase their bottom lines. I met several Peruvians and Chileans and in fact spoke more Spanish today than I did English, which was certainly a surprise. It is terrifying to think what will become of all these military contractors who are trained and deployed here when the occupation ends and they return home to South America and Southeast Asia, unemployed and only knowing how to do one thing well. Any Ideas for solutions so these contractors don’t inadvertently spread strife to new areas?
Unlike the insurgents, who seem to prefer burkhas and women's bridal wear, contractors and soldiers in Iraq wear logo's to show who they work for, so we can help visually ID who we are working with, who you MIGHT be, and NOT for some 'allegience'; are you saying no one in any of your companies wears a logo shirt? Or do you only allow UN?
As far as your second paragraph, why were you surprised? Ever been to some parts of Texas or Arizona? You can speak more Spanish there than English- and I bet you don't complain.
One quote he posted that was that of the Iraqi government ministries- ''well-intended but impotent''. Kinda like some Congressmen I know... he was trying to describe how where 1 in 5 elected officials have been killed (THATS relatively high- where are those figures from? Redacted?) he fully does not grasp the threat in Iraq, and what people face with the Islamo-fascists. Intellectuals, oficials, all are primary targets- guess what? So would you if you were in a like situation. Given your 'preferences' you'd last even less time in any other Muslim nation.
On NGOs- what you REALLY failed to grasp is why we don't hear much, why they don't get overt cooperation with the coalition people- they don't WANT it! NGO's that get ANY kind of help are immediately targeted and summarily killed by the Islamo-fascists in the region. While coalition personnel help where able, we learned long ago to 'stay in the background' lest even Sadr alliances get involved. Examples of what they do are numerous.
The Iraqi economy has been a basked case for decades- long before Saddam was toppled. Its the result of state-run corporations. It seems Polis hasn't been to former countries behind the Iron Curtain and seen the results there. Our involvement in Iraq had less to do with it than Saddam's policies; in fact, most factories were never touched, as the locals KNEW that someday they would have to again try to rely on those for an income. Previously, even tho a factory made goods, salaries were paid by the government, regardless of factory output. But you didn't meet with THAT task force, did you?
He laments that he couldn't relate with 'real Iraqi's' while in Baghdad, and that he'd get more 'normal Iraqi's in Jordan'. He doesn't take into account that those that had options (due to influence or money or both) are those in Jordan- 'normal' Iraqi's are still IN Iraq.
I think it likely that there will be a mutiny from within the lower ranks of contractors.
I REALLY, REALLY want to know why he thinks this- he was in an Angolan compound (South African) in the 'red zone' when he made this observation- he TRULY does not understand those outside his own mind-set. Something tells me NONE of his companies have veterans employed. Or Reservists.
One telling point- The United Way has now disavowed any association with Polis, as the executive in Colorado accompanied Polis as well on the trip- outside the directives of the National council and seemingly in support of Polis' campaign. (Now I know WHY I NEVER give to United Way charities via the United Way; this after I grew up with my father on the local executive board; its a shallow hull of its former self. I give directly to charities or to Soldier's Angels and the Salvation Army).
I think I've made my point here. At least, I hope I have. You go to his sites, and you truly get an idea of what the left thinks, or those who THINK they are 'intellectual' about it. They have no clue about what Iraqi's face, what the US faces, or any true way to understand. And probably, until the fear is on their doorstep, never will.
Mr Polis, I've made NUMEROUS attempts at contacting your office to schedule an open debate with you- any time, place, or group. In or out of uniform, I'm open to discussing face-to-face, any audience. But I have yet to hear from any of your representatives or staff. Probably, never will. But, you'd never hold up to someone who's truly worked for a living and understands honor and commitment.
Pols like Polis we don't need. Ever.
PS- if any of you in Iraq saw or interacted with him, drop me a note.