Darrow Miller and Friends

What Iraq Teaches Us About Cultural Transformation

As ISIS marches through Iraq and Baghdad prepares for battle, the world is asking, “Whence the hard-won gains of intervention by the US and its allies?” 

Bob Osburn writes about IraqThe growing crisis presents opportunity for plenty of rumination and reflection; not all of it helpful. Our friend, Bob Osburn, Executive Director at Wilberforce Academy, has contributed some exceptional insights into the causes and remedies of the crisis underway in northern Iraq now threatening Baghdad.




The battle for Baghdad (which may or may not be underway by the time this blog is posted) is not only a human tragedy, but a painful reminder of how culture can never be coerced.  Because this is so, the thousands of American lives and $1 trillion invested there since the 2003 Iraq War seems like a terrible price to pay for using the wrong weapons to achieve a worthy goal.

In the Winter and Spring of 2003, as the US government was preparing to launch the invasion of Iraq to overthrow the vicious dictator Saddam Hussein, I often spoke to my sons about the probable successes and risks.  Like many, I forecasted a military romp in the park, as was indeed the case.  But, I warned my sons over and over that the people of Iraq, owing first to the lack of democratic government under the long reign of Hussein and, secondly, to the similarly troubling relationship between democracy and most Islamic societies, would be a different matter altogether.  I naively believed that our military planners were fully aware of the giant risk of anarchy following Saddam’s fall and that they would somehow prepare for it. 

Notwithstanding American claims about weapons of mass destruction, the US government saw its mission as liberation.  And, yes, if you take the view that politics and power are the primary force in a society, then America surely succeeded.  Using the coercive power of American military, the political situation in Iraq changed almost overnight.

But societies are far more than the sum of their politics, or, for that matter, their economics. 

Go here for the rest of Bob’s post.

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Bob Osburn was an adjunct lecturer for seven years in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development the University of Minnesota. He has spent 32 years serving in international student and academic ministry at the University of Minnesota, and successfully launched the 1998 World View for World Healing Conference that challenged international students to engage the deepest needs of their societies on the basis of a Christian worldview. He has been married to Susan for 42 years, and is the father of four sons.

1 Comment

  1. Jon Davis Jr.

    August 2, 2014 - 10:27 pm

    I went and read the article over at that other blog.

    Great Article!

    Thanks for the “heads up.” 🙂

    I remember hearing “we need to get rid of weapons of mass destruction” and kinda understanding that goal. When those weapons weren’t found in the predicted quantities I remember the story switching to “we needed to make this ‘regime change’ because Saddam Hussein was bad.” I remember thinking “oh no.”