The new legs race: Critical perspectives on biometrics in Iraq

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THE UNITED STATES MILITARY faces a dual challenge in stability operations currently underway in Iraq. First, it must meet an immediate need by securing its own forces against an increasingly active and effective insurgency. second, it must pursue the long-term political objective of state building, or democracy promotion and construction, transforming Iraq into the first domino of the heretofore elusive democratic peace in the region. Unfortunately for the military, the proposed solutions to maintaining force safety in a dangerous political setting and fundamentally altering that setting are often mutually exclusive. I propose that biometric solutions to U.S. stability operations requirements highlight a fundamental paradox of the U.S. military presence in Iraq. Mounting time constraints, caused by both the speed of the insurgency and American domestic political pressure, force the military to choose short-term tactical expediency over long-term political success. Biometrics offer a symptomatic nexus of the military's dilemma from which to analyze the paradox posed by larger, longer-term American political goals and the more temporally and spatially limited contexts in which they are to be achieved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-94
Number of pages10
JournalMilitary Review: The Professional Journal of the United States Army
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


  • Iraq
  • tactics
  • biometrics


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