Wednesday, December 10, 2003

pinions of buddy don:
iraqi n arab cultchur: have we gut a clue?


i know i dun beat this horse to death, but it is still jes a importunt as ever. we aint a'havin the sucksess we wont in iraq, n part of the reason is we dont seem to wonta unnerstan thar cultchur n tradishuns, witch thays bof gut a lot in common with the old testamint.


fer instunts, them arabs is a lot lack hillbillies is reputed to be: they lack thar feuds. ifn sumbidy kills one of yourn, tiz yer hole tribes duty to git revenge. tiz the old eye fer a eye, tooth fer a tooth thang. tiz a bleef that kin keep a conflick a'goin jes bout ferever.


lookit how the palestinians n israelis go at each other, ever time supposedly a'gittin back a tuthern fer the latest thang they dun: palestinians send out a suicide bomber to kill a bunch of israelis. israelis use them defensive weppons they bought with united states money to raze a block of west bank houses n destroy sum of the palestinian infrustruckchur, lack the plumbin n electrick. then them palestinians seeks revenge rite back by strappin dynamite to the nex suicide bomber n sendin him or her into a crowd of israelis n killin as minny as they kin. n that leads to the nex revenge attack by them israelis.


tiz whut ye call a feud, n tiz a big part of the cultchur of semitic folk of all stripes. ye kin see why jesus christ cum as such a sprize to folk with his idees of pacifism n fergiveness! too bad thay aint minny folk that still bleeves that prince of peace stuff innymore.


a good eggzample of jes how this cutchur thang wurks cums frum that book i keep talkin bout, 'the seven pillars of wisdom' by t. e. lawrence or lawrence of arabia. he wuz leadin the arabs agin the turks, witch them turks had dominated the region with thar ottoman empire frum the fifteen hunnerts up to worl war one. lawrence wuz larnin them arabs bout the idee of a arab nayshun made up of all arabs n havin boundries of all arabs, only tuther powers lack england n france woodnt go fer it n divided em up into different lil cuntries, witch iraq wuz one they made out of three differnt groups that wuz natcherul enemies: kurds, sunnis, shi'ites.


one day while lawrence n his bunch wuz marchin round the desert n puttin bombs on the turks railroads n army bases n jes generly attackin purty much the same way them iraqi insurgents is a'doin agin us, thay wuz a murder. one of them arabs killt a nuther, n lawrence had to do sumthin to keep frum havin the hole force split up. here's how he splains whut he dun:



My followers had been quarrelling all day; and while I was lying near the rocks a shot was fired. I paid no attention; for there were hares and birds in the valley; but a little later Suleiman roused me and made me follow him across the valley to an opposite bay in the rocks, where one of the Ageyl, a Boreida man, was lying stone dead with a bullet through his temples. The shot must have been fired from close by; because the skin was burnt about one wound. The remaining Ageyl were running frantically about; and when I asked what it was Ali, their head man, said that Hamed the Moor had done the murder. I suspected Suleiman, because of the feud between the Atban and Ageyl which had burned up in Yenbo and Wejh; but Ali assured me that Suleiman had been with him three hundred yards further up the valley gathering sticks when the shot was fired. I sent all out to search for Hamed, and crawled back to the baggage, feeling that it need not have happened this day of all days when I was in pain.


As I lay there I heard a rustle, and opened my eyes slowly upon Hamedâ's back as he stooped over his saddle-bags, which lay just beyond my rock. I covered him with a pistol and then spoke. He had put down his rifle to lift the gear; and was at my mercy till the others came. We held a court at once; and after a while Hamed confessed that, he and Salem having had words, he had seen red and shot him suddenly. Our inquiry ended. The Ageyl, as relatives of the dead man, demanded blood for blood. The others supported them; and I tried vainly to talk the gentle Ali round. My head was aching with fever and I could not think; but hardly even in health, with all eloquence, could I have begged Hamed off; for Salem had been a friendly fellow and his sudden murder a wanton crime.


Then rose up the horror which would make civilized man shun justice like a plague if he had not the needy to serve him as hangmen for wages. There were other Moroccans in our army; and to let the Ageyl kill one in feud meant reprisals by which our unity would have been endangered. It must be a formal execution, and at last, desperately, I told Hamed that he must die for punishment, and laid the burden of his killing on myself. Perhaps they would count me not qualified for feud. At least no revenge could lie against my followers; for I was a stranger and kinless.


I made him enter a narrow gully of the spur, a dank twilight place overgrown with weeds. Its sandy bed had been pitted by trickles of water down the cliffs in the late rain. At the end it shrank to a crack a few inches wide. The walls were vertical. I stood in the entrance and gave him a few moments' delay which he spent crying on the ground. Then I made him rise and shot him through the chest. He fell down on the weeds shrieking, with the blood coming out in spurts over his clothes, and jerked about till he rolled nearly to where I was. I fired again, but was shaking so that I only broke his wrist. He went on calling out, less loudly, now lying on his back with his feet towards me, and I leant forward and shot him for the last time in the thick of his neck under the jaw. His body shivered a little, and I called the Ageyl, who buried him in the gully where he was. Afterwards the wakeful night dragged over me, till, hours before dawn, I had the men up and made them load, in my longing to be set free of Wadi Kitan. They had to lift me into the saddle.


innywho, i wuz thankin bout this while readin a artickul in the new york review of books called  'Delusions in Baghdad' by mark danner whar he splains sum of the folks thats a'fitin us over thar:



Saddam's elite Republican Guard numbered 80,000; his even more select Special Republican Guard numbered 16,000; his Fedayeen Saddam, a paramilitary force -- in effect, Saddam's brownshirts -- numbered 40,000. The Mukhabarat and the various intelligence services, of which there were perhaps a dozen, numbered thousands more. All of these men were highly trained, well armed, and tested for their political loyalty. Few of them died in the war.


In May, in an astonishing decision that still has not been adequately explained, American administrator L. Paul Bremer vastly increased the number of willing Iraqi foot soldiers by abruptly dissolving the regular Iraqi army, which had been established by King Faisal I in 1921, and thereby sent out into bitter shame and unemployment 350,000 of those young Iraqis who were well trained, well armed, and deeply angry at the Americans. Add to these a million or so tons of weapons and munitions of all sorts, including rockets and missiles, readily available in more than a hundred mostly unguarded arms depots around the country, as well as vast amounts of money stockpiled during thirty-five years in power (notably on March 18, when Saddam sent three tractor trailers to the Central Bank and relieved it of more than a billion dollars in cash), and you have the makings of a well-manned, well-funded insurgency.


whut happend to all these folk? did they jes disappear? did they surrender? did they all git killt? or did they melt into the iraqi background? far as we kin tell, they mostly survived by not trine to fite lack we wonted em to, in a cunventchunal battle.


in sted, ye gut ye a bunch of folk who wont revenge agin us n agin thar own. thar trained n armed n gut plenty funds to carry on. not only that, since thays this cultchur of revenge in the arab worl, ifn we fite back n miss n mayhap kill a innocent bystander by acksident, then thars a hole tribe thats duty bound to git revenge fer each acksidentull killin.


reminds me of a game i used to play on the computer with my son. twuz called "king's quest,' n to win ye had to go up agin differnt kinds of enemies, trolls, draguns, ghosts, vampires n such. thang is, ifn ye tride to kill the 'undead' creatchurs lack the ghosts or vampires, ye jes ended up makin that minny more of em.


same kinda thang seems to be happenin over in iraq. when we try to fite back agin the folks thats attackin us, taint possibull to make sure ye git only them, n ifn ye miss n kill the rong person, lack sumbidy who aint guilty, then ye gut that minny more enemies reddy to attack or at lease to provide shelter n cover fer them that wood attack. wurse of all, the way thangs is stacked up now, we dont have much of nuthin in the way of a nuther choice.


ifn ye know one, twood be a comfert if ye wood splain it in a comment.

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