How could we tell whether we’ve ended up being at war with the natural defenses of the indigenous dessert community of Iraq?
The fact that the behavior of the ‘insurgency’ is seemingly so illogical and counter productive for what would be presumed to be their own interests is one good clue. Natural system responses are not planned or based on policy analysis, but on gut reactions. Quite often enough natural system defense mechanisms are self defeating.
In biological systems there are lots of ways defense mechanisms mistakenly attack the body they’re supposedly acting to defend. We call it MS or allergies or inflammation. In Iraq the field of conflict has now become very complicated, with apparently several different communities, and us, all involved in attacking each other in the name of protecting themselves, to the clear detriment of anyone’s actual good interests. It’s inter-community mayhem, and apparently our responsibility for setting it off.
Back when it was ghostly quiet in Iraq, the days and weeks following our invasion, the fall of Baghdad and our scattering of the structures of government, the first sign of independent organization arising in that land were the scattered crazy desert renegades running out into the open and shooting at the passing massive army of ‘liberation’.
Our guys thought that was really hilarious and mowed them down. Then a few days later they came out in two’s, and then in four’s, this time hiding behind the burning wrecks. As their style evolved it exhibited the classic easily recognizable progression of exponential growth.
At that time in our own internal political conversation we were still deceived by an illusion that Iraq presented an imminent danger to us, still not aware that we invaded another country without a single scrap of solid evidence of a threat. Here was the first evidence of the reality on the ground, and we thought it was a joke.
What should you say when you’re in an unfamiliar situation and see evidence of growth in response. Well, the thing you usually say about a really big important learning experience is “ah ha!” because growth is clear concrete and reliable evidence of something much bigger going on. We should have said the obvious, “take me to your leader, you are people we need to include in returning Iraq to it’s natural owners, we apologize for mistaking you for someone else in the confusion”. There was a real window of opportunity that we missed.
What we chose to say about it, and still choose, is to call them ‘thugs’, trying the same trick of character assassination that has been so productive for our political establishment throughout it’s rise to power. It’s a great little shortcut to power to slay your opponents with self aggrandizing insults, but it makes the natural world your enemy.