I am not worried about Iraq anymore. That is not to say I no longer care about the troops coming home NOW. I care deeply and will continue to write and speak in an effort to influence minds and votes. It is the only weapon that most of us have. But I am no longer worried about a massive escalation. It would be political suicide, and these men, and their friends, would rather live to rise again later than fall on the sword of a truly principled stand.
US troops are going to withdraw and historians will write of this war that it was the first of many in which the internet’s counter to government and media propaganda sped up a process which otherwise would have taken much longer, namely the onset of de-escalation. Imagine how easily the government could have controlled this story in earlier decades. If that idea brings Vietnam to mind, then you get my drift. The internet can and will only become an increasingly effective tool in the defense against lies, spin, exaggerations, and suppression. I imagine that the neocons hate the internet. And so I fear the slippery slope of regulatory oversight. Be wary of a “minor, trivial, last minute add-on” to a future Patriot Act, requiring all ISPs to provide accurate web usage data to the feebs. You know, all in the name of fighting the War on Terra.
I fear something else. The longer it takes for our troops to leave, the bloodier their exit will be. Here’s how I know this: I am human, and if I felt that my land was being occupied by an invader, the longer he stayed the more exacting would be my revenge. All of the analyses explaining the motivations of the Iraqi insurgents are interesting, but ultimately superficial. When you get right down to it, this isn’t about freedom or religion or ethnicity or money or anything more complicated than simply, “Get the hell off my property!”
That’s it. Get the hell off my property. The difference in the Iraqi’s response to US presence as compared to another occupying force is one only of degree. Ultimately, regardless of invader, a significant mass of Iraqis will fight back. Perhaps, in the current quagmire, that point has already been reached. How could it be any other way?
Think about it a foreign government has sent its military personnel, and all their toys, to the US of A. They have converted the nearby 7-11 to a holding cell, where your pregnant friend’s husband is being held, for questioning; the Marriot is now officer barracks, the McDonald’s a chow hall. The foreigners are telling you to be concerned about some damned fool election coming up, but your family is literally dehydrating to death because the idiot foreigners can’t get the water lines up and running again. You’re actually surprised by this. They seemed to have so much fun blowing this stuff up the first time you might think they want to do it again.
Every day, as promises of rebuilding bear no fruit, and your family gets hungrier and thirstier, you began to despair that things can ever get better this way. You’ll take the old over the new any day. And who the hell asked for their help anyway!?
Then your former neighbor shows up. Bob tells you he’s been fighting in what its participants are calling the Second American Revolutionary War.
“Wow,” you say to Bob. “It sure is good to see you alive and well.”
“Same here, my friend, same here” Bob replies as he passes his water canteen to your five-year-old daughter. “Listen, I came to ask you an extremely important question.”
“What’s up?” you ask, your curiosity piqued.
Bob gives you a man’s look, eye-to-eye and sternly confident. “How’d you like to get the water lines running again?”
I believe I know how a significant mass of Americans would eventually respond to such an environment. We would fight back with a ferocity and a vengeance with few historical equals. Whatever religious, political, racial, or financial motivations existed before become irrelevant, both within the society and with regards to the foreigners. And we would chase those foreign devils, those bastards, all the way to the skids of their withdrawing choppers. Those not fortunate enough to make the final departing flights, well, let’s just say their futures will be short and painful.
It would happen this way because we are human. We have been chasing others from our property since we discovered the good caves and hunting ground. I also believe that hard-wired into most of us is a basic respect for the boundaries between “my property” and “not my property.” “Dude, don’t worry, I won’t let my dog crap in your yard” is an accurate summation of the basic and unspoken understanding that has existed between tribes and families for millennia.
There’s also a global neighborhood, and guess what a bunch of Iraqis think the US opened the whole kennel into its yard. Can anyone, truly, be surprised by what is now occurring in Iraq? Can any but the most deluded not see the writing on the wall?
Our boys and girls are in a bad-to-worse scenario. I’ll anticipate the neo-con refrain, hopefully coming soon, that the US lost because of the lack of support of people like me. So, let me say this to clear up the matter my opinion makes no difference on the ultimate outcome. Reality isn’t concerned with anyone’s opinion about it. And the reality is that the US will lose because it can’t win. The fact that some military brass agrees with me is more significant than the fact that the president agrees with you.
Get the hell off my property! That’s all there is to it.
July 16, 2005
Dan Stoffel [send him mail] writes from Western NY and served in the 101st Airborne Infantry in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He blogs at ThoughtMisdemeanors.blogspot.com and BandanaRunner.blogspot.com.