08 April 2008

Peace Through Brute Strength

In Zobaie's world, to show mercy is to show weakness. In a land where men burn other men alive, harsh tactics are a small price to pay for imposing order, he said.


The story of Zobaie and his police force opens a window onto the Iraq that is emerging after five years of war. American ideals that were among the justifications for the 2003 invasion, such as promoting democracy and human rights, are giving way to values drawn from Iraq's traditions and tribal culture, such as respect, fear and brutality.

"We don't have any Thomas Jeffersons here," said Capt. Sean Miller, a member of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division from Fairfax, Va., who works closely with Zobaie. "What we do have here is generally a group of people who are trying to save a city. It won't fulfill our ideals or what we desire."


Zobaie's harshest critics also acknowledge that Fallujah needs a man like him.

Salman, the imam, said Zobaie controls the city with "a fire fist."

"But to be honest, security is restored under this guy," he said. "We have a saying in Iraq: 'Fever is better than death.' We were dead. Life stopped at 2 p.m. Everybody was afraid of themselves, including me. If he didn't use the force, the security wouldn't be restored. We don't like the weak man."



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