Does Kimmitt Get It?


He is the newest poster boy for America's occupation of Iraq. Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt can be seen on the media almost daily espousing a gritty confidence and determination. He is a Clutch Cargo-like figure, tall, chiseled and clean shaven.

Standing before cameras last month for an American audience, General Kimmitt remarked that the people of Fallujah 'just don't get it.' He was responding to the vicious attack upon mercenaries acting as private security for foreigners in Iraq.

The clear import of Kimmitt's remark was that the people of Fallujah should have prostrated themselves before the occupation army by now, as he assumed most of Iraq had done. What is wrong with these people? He promised a happy ending: 'We will reestablish control of that city and we will pacify that city.'[1]

There is a certain incongruity between the image created by the term 'pacify' and the type of violent slaughter and subjugation which the term ultimately implies. For a minute I was reminded of Nurse Ratchet in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Her calm smile disguised an underlying malevolence which would unleash medieval horrors upon her unsuspecting patients. They too would be pacified ' whether they wanted it or not, or as Lt. Colonel Brennan Byrne stated the case for Iraqi democracy, 'They will bend to our will if they are afraid of us.'[2]

The stated objectives of democratic reform and freedom for the Iraqi people apparently do not apply to the people of Fallujah. Since the invasion, their city has been ringed with razor wire, with special passes required for exit or entry, turning the city of 300,000 into an asylum and its residents into prisoners of the occupation forces. Like nurse Ratchet, Kimmitt deliberately challenges and provokes the residents of Fallujah, then reacts violently when they respond.

As the fires of revolution spread from Fallujah throughout Iraq, Kimmitt's promises of 'pacification' seem far-fetched. It is axiomatic that the more brutal the oppression, the stronger the resistance will become. As U.S. forces have cracked down harder, the resistance has spread and intensified.

Kimmitt inadvertently embarrasses his own forces when he attempts to minimize the resistance. The Iraqi opposition has killed or maimed dozens of U.S. forces, engaged them in pitched battles requiring American air support and taken physical control of several towns. Kimmitt assures the cameras that these are a few terrorists and thugs. If true, should this proclamation give us comfort? If a few thugs are trying the world's most proficient and expensive armed force, what should we expect when the opposition intensifies in numbers or tactics?

In fact, it is Kimmit who 'just don't get it.' Whether in Fallujah or Concord, people will fight for their liberty from foreign oppression. The point is not who has the stronger conventional military force. The point is that you cannot use force to impose democracy or, as Dale Carnegie would state it: to win friends and influence people.

The use of force is an admission that you have failed to win hearts and minds through emulation. Iraqis would undoubtedly aspire to democracy, if only we would quit stifling it. Get it, General Kimmit?

[1], April 1, 2004

[2], April 12, 2004

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John Peters's picture
Columns on STR: 15

John Peters is an attorney in Michigan, a Libertarian, and a freelance author.