News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Making Enemies

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Making Enemies

It's so easy to say that going to war will stop the killers in their tracks. That "over there" we can get them so they won't come "over here." The shallowness of this agument is belied by a misunderstanding of Arabic culture. Arabs in the mid-east often belong to strong clans and follow tribal codes. In this code, it is incumbent to maintain one's own and one's family's honor.

What some under the heading of terror is often difficult for modernized, secular Americans to understand. The idea that another man might touch my sister or wife or aunt, if that man is in uniform, would raise few eyebrows in the right circumstances. In Iraq, for example, this would be a dishonor--and a male family member would feel impelled to efface the shame that had been visited upon his family by such behavior.

All of this goes to point up my presentiment that America--in going into Iraq--is setting the stage for a future where many chickens will come to roost. I hate to say this, but I believe that this means that many soldiers and their families will be threatened by actions that soldiers did while in combat situations. I hope this does not come true--but I fear that tribal and blood ties run very deep and will not be quickly forgotten when they are threatened.

One example of this is the recent bombing in Jordan. There, the woman terrorist has recounted that her reasons for wanting to carry out this attack was because her brothers had been killed by American soldiers in Falluja. I wonder how many of the attacks on American soldiers are attempts to even up a matter of shame? I note, for example, the story of an Iraqi sniper who followed two American soldiers for several days and finally killed them.

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