I’ve said many times that we won’t really know whether the whole democracy thing will work in Iraq until the people who are kids today are running the country. The main job of the current adult population is to just hold the country together for the next 20 years or so.
Anyway, this National Guard unit has been in Iraq for a month and a half and is seeing the hope (and danger) that Iraqi kids hold.
“I think teenagers are the ones we should be trying to influence the most,” said Sgt. Stephen Borosh of Elkhart, Ind. “The kids are the future, but the [teens] are the ones a little bit closer to where we want to go.”
Like anywhere else, teenagers in Iraq are old enough to make their own bad decisions. Some have trouble looking U.S. soldiers in the eye, Borosh said. Some can be easily bought, and do bad things for money such as planting bombs.
Also, like anywhere else in this region, which is manned by the 42nd Infantry Division’s Task Force Liberty, city kids can be different from country kids.
“If you go out to the outlying farm areas, you can see it in their eyes — they really like having you around,” Borosh said. “In the city, they’re more affected by the insurgency and what’s been going on here.”
Heh. Kids in urban America are probably affected by our insurgency, as well. Just look at the voting patterns of their parents. But I digress.
Here’s the closing paragraph:
“Not in the next 10 years; maybe in 20,” said [Spc. Marion] Brawley when asked if he had hope for the future of Iraq. “It doesn’t matter that we’re here. It’s on the [Iraqi] people. I want to win [the children’s] hearts and minds. I don’t care about the adults. They’re already set in their minds.”
While I wouldn’t entirely dismiss the adults, it is too late to change them in any meaningful way. Old dogs, and all that. And, as I mentioned earlier, I think Spc. Brawley is right on the money when he says 20 years.
I also think it will be 20 years well spent.