Sunday, March 11, 2007

What Happened in Iraq?

Let's illustrate this with a story.

There was once a block with some pretty bad neighbors. One man in particular was pretty nasty; he looked creepy, he threatened people in the neighborhood, and regularly beat members of his family. Then one day, he started talking about how he would start killing people in the neighborhood. Worse, a cable installer noticed that the nasty man was accumulating lots of weapons, and was threatening to use them: Guns, poisons, and even grenades. The police were notified of this, and then one day, they invaded his house -- and though they do not harm him, or even arrest him, they did pulverize his weapons.

The neighborhood was able to rest a bit easier, but the nasty neighbor continued his ways of beating his family and threatening others. Then, one day, he rounded up some friends and they invaded other people's homes. In one instance, they settled in, and declared that the house and its property was theirs. The police were called, and the nasty neighbor was told to go home. Again, he was not arrested or harmed; he was just told to go home.

That worked to some extent, but he continued to beat his family and threaten others. He even murdered some relatives. The police, concerned about this, set up a monitoring station near his house so that they could observe him. They couldn't see much, but they were something of a deterrent. The nasty man was still behaving in a threatening manner, but the aggressiveness lessened.

A few years went by, and then, on one sunny morning, some other bad neighbors went on a sudden killing spree. They carjacked some vehicles by cutting open the throats of unsuspecting motorists, and gunned down people mowing their lawns, children playing in yards, and anyone else they happened to see. They finally rammed their cars into a shopping center, killing everyone in the stores, and themselves. And shortly afterwards, many people in the neighborhood died from a poisoned water supply, though no one was able to figure out how the water became tainted.

The nasty man celebrated. And, despite what just happened, continued to threaten his neighbors. But now, with the whole neighborhood being very jumpy, they wanted assurance that the nasty man was not accumulating weapons again. And so, the police knocked on his door, asking to inspect his house. His responded by shutting the door tight and telling them to go fuck themselves. But instead of forcing their way in, the police kept knocking and pleading with him to please allow them to enter so that they can be assured that he has no weapons.

This went on for months. The nasty man was allowing his friends and relatives to come and go, but would not let the police in. Then, one day, some less-favored relatives escaped and told the police that the nasty man was in fact accumulating many weapons. Finally, the police issued a warning to the nasty man: Let us in, or we'll come in. Then, after weeks of police department meetings, consultations with other police departments, neighborhood association meetings, and consultations with people in different counties, the police gave an ultimatum, and finally entered the house.

They discovered many corpses buried in the yard. And as they took the nasty man away, some relatives cheered, while others (perhaps with "battered wife syndrome") swore vengeance on the police and the neighborhood. The police were violently attacked, and killed their attackers. But others got away. And, worst of all, new relatives started appearing from other parts of the neighborhood and attacked the police. While the police were defending themselves, they also searched the house, but could not find any weapons beyond a few knives and a pistol or two. Some speculated that the weapons might have disappeared in the convoy of U-Haul trucks that would regularly come and go, but no one could prove it.

Not only were people in the Nasty Man's house attacking the police, but relatives and friends of the other bad neighbors came by to attack the police and threaten people in the neighborhood. Eventually, chaos ensued when the police were unable to tell who belonged in the nasty man's house, who was visiting, who was a threat, and who was not a threat. The police, with reinforcements from other counties, were already in the neighborhood, arresting the friends of the suicide crew in their homes, but even there, they could not tell who was a threat and who was not. The big picture: The police, apprehensive about arresting innocent people in the nasty man's house, instead became targets themselves. And the honest people in the neighborhood were still being threatened by friends of the nasty man, and friends of the bad neighbors.

And then something unexpected happened: The police from the other counties decided to leave. And people living in other neighborhoods and counties dropped their support for the honest people being threatened. Even worse: Many people in the neighborhood, who were the targets of the nasty man, who had neighbors and relatives murdered by the car-rental gang, and who were continuously being threatened, turned on their own police department. Rather than wanting the police to remove the threat to their lives, they instead wanted to the police commissioner to resign -- in fact, they wanted to fire him! They apologized to the other counties for causing trouble. They even went so far to say that the threats, the violence, and the murders in their neighborhood were the fault of the police commissioner.

While the police were standing by and being murdered by the bad people in the neighborhood, many law-abiding people went to the local precinct to protest. While the bad people in the neighborhood were threatening to take over their homes and kill them, too, these people cried that all would be better if the police just went back to the precinct house and did paperwork. And with police corpses being dragged out of the criminals' houses, these people kept insisting that they were protesting the police action to help the police; they insisted that they supported the police.

Eventually, a new nasty man, perhaps even nastier than the first nasty man, made himself known. He openly stated that he was building the most lethal weapons known to man, and that he intended to use them to wipe his neighbors off the map. "Imagine a world without my neighbors," he would say. And he would send his friends around town to murder people by firing at them from adjacent yards. And everyone else in the neighborhood responded by ignoring him, and getting angry at the police commissioner for thinking about how to respond. Many people in the neighborhood, and everyone in other neighborhoods, became obsessed with hating the police commissioner and also hating the few people in the neighborhood who realized that they were the targets of these threats.

The story ends, so far, with police still being killed in the nasty man's house -- and with apparently little inclination to enter the new nasty man's house.

1 comment:

outwashplain-blogs said...

Thanks for the story; it illustrates the trouble in the "neighborhood" quite effectively.

I hope some of the "activists" at Times Square this week have the opportunity to read this story, and think.

I hope it's not too much to ask them to think.