The U.S. military presence in Iraq is currently in a transitional phase. Either the anti-U.S. insurgency will be brought under control and security will be provided to those forces involved in nation-building; or the insurgency will expand, and U.S. goals in Iraq will be undermined by increasing civil unrest. It is imperative that the former objective be accomplished while the later fate is avoided. To ensure this outcome, U.S. policymakers must understand the internal dynamics of Iraq, including the role of Iraqs Shiite clerics. This monograph by Dr. W. Andrew Terrill helps to address the critical need to gain the cooperation or at least the passive tolerance of the Shiite clerics and community. Such an effort could become more challenging as time goes on, and one of the recurring themes of this monograph is the declining patience of the Shiite clergy with the U.S. presence. By describing the attitudes, actions, and beliefs of major Shiite clerics, Dr. Terrill underscores a set of worldviews that differ in important ways from those reflected in U.S. policy. Key Shiite clerics deep suspicion of the United States is exemplified by conspiracy theories. These suggest that Saddams ouster was merely a convenient excuse, allowing the United States to implement its own agenda. Other clerical leaders are more open-minded but not particularly grateful for the U.S. presence, despite their utter hatred for Saddam and his regime.
U.S. Army War College, http://www.carlisle.army.mil
SSI Newsletter (March 2004)