Friday, June 01, 2007

Arabs Will Be Arabs

Things have not changed much, since the days of TE Lawrence. Westerners keep expecting their arab allies to think in a rational, western manner. Arabs, however, will be arabs.
A day earlier some Iraqi Police officers stumbled upon a suspected weapons cache and exchanged a few rounds with some AQIZ operatives.

As is often the case, the IPs did not immediately report what happened and even then the IP, like most Iraqis, have difficulty with spatial relationships, maps and directions.

Iraqis tend to know only one unit of measure--one kilometer. Everything is one kilometer, even if it is 200 meters or 2000 meters, it is one kilometer.

With a location figured out the paratroopers of Able Company 3-509 walked out of OP Delta in the middle of the night to search a wide swath of the area south of the river.

...The IP Lieutenant was talking with a friend of his, a retired officer from the Iraqi Army in the old regime when Captain Matthew Gregory, Commanding Officer of Able Company asked about the IED planted on the Subayot road.

It seemed everyone--the retired officer, the IP Lieutenant, the PSF--everyone but the Army and Marines knew who planted the IED.

The soldiers and Marines stood there for a moment in stunned silence.

After a few minutes of questioning and getting a few more details the Marine Lieutenant told the IP to go down there and get the guy they said planted the IED.

There was some hesitation and some hemming and hawing. It is a dangerous part of town, it is night...

The Marine Lt. had no sympathy, "You have 45 minutes to get this guy."

About an hour later the call came over the radio for an Explosive Ordinance Disposal team to come out.

The guy who planted the IED had 20 pounds of TnT, blasting caps, detonators and various other pieces of military hardware.

....An IED will go off or something will happen and the IP and PSF say Jamil, or Whalid did it. And it often turns out that Jamil and Whalid did do it, leading American officers to ask why they waited to tell us after the fact.

The answers, like many things in Iraq, are convoluted or just plain bizarre.

But, inshalla, the PSF and IP will catch the guy. Sometimes they operate for 96 hours straight catching known AQIZ operatives. Other times they can't be moved for anything other than tea, cigarettes and Maxim Magazines.

As T.E. Lawrence wrote of the Arab Army of WWI in Revolt in the Desert, 'No English officer would work so hard, to get so little out of so many.'

This is as should be expected. Foreign cultures are foreign. Foreign cultures create foreign brains that think in different ways.

Such differences allowed westerners to colonise large parts of the world. Then the differences inevitably created schisms leading to the de-colonisation of the world. The jury is out concerning which regime benefitted the third worlders the most--colonisation or post-colonisation. In many ways, it probably made very little difference.

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