The Hatfields and the McCoys in Iraq

"Those people in Iraq have been fighting each other for a thousand years", a recent acquaintance sagely said to me in casual chat. What are they offered now that is much different than during those thousand years? So why do we think we can expect them to change? Just because we are a country made up of people who once were quite the rivals, a melting pot that somewhat works, is clearly not enough of a "better example."

In Iraq, much like israel and Palestine, getting into the fray is like trying to break up a knock down drag out fight between brothers. Try it, and one learns not to try it again. The brothers stop long enough to unite to beat you up, then they resume fighting each other.

In my youth, I learned a lot of life's virtual lessons by reading the comic books of the day, which often had wisdom laced into the antics of the characters. There were several phrases that immediately keyed in a context, one such was "the Hatfields and the McCoys." They were two families that lived in the back hills somewhere, and who always carried guns, and shot at any member of the other family that they encountered. A "family feud", it was called, and it was shoot to kill for these two isolated families. In fact, there was not much depiction of them except when they were shooting at someone of the other family, and it went on and on, the feud had gone on forever and it surely would go on forever, unless one family was exterminated. Anyone else who wandered into their territory, was at risk of being shot as a casual bystander. So the comics would invoke "the Hatfields and the McCoys" to indicate feuding families of no help to anyone and rather dangerous to be near.

The news in past couple of years has portrayed the Iraqi people as if they were Hatfields and McCoys, it seems to me. American and British, some others too, invaded the area, messed around a very great deal trying to smoosh the guy that kept the lid on the Hatfields and McCoys through ruthless tactics, it was said. We assumed that once he was history, the Iraqi people would rejoice and welcome us with open arms, heroes, eager for us to show the way of productive peace and harmony.

Uh, it did not work out that way. In fact, it has been pretty much the pattern of trying to break up a fight between brothers. And we are in the thick of it, like a fly that was enticed to land on sticky flypaper.

In the early 1990's, I was working in electronics at a small company who had people from all over the world in similar positions; two of my close co-workers were from Iraq. They both were different people, yet in my opinion they were top notch people, peaceable, competent, getting on with life one day at a time, very likable folk even though not always understandable. So when I think of what the country Iraq has become, is it full of people that had been more or less fine people who are now quite frazzled and desperate? Did we do that?

The Hatfields and the McCoys analogy feels a better similarity, makes it all somewhat comprehensible.

As to who and why we got into the mess, is history; it is now what to do about today and tomorrow as we find it. Are "the insurgents" over there simply madmen bent on causing wreckage just for the heck of it? Are they some alien species not of humanity? Are they some team that is dedicated to beating our team so as to "win"?

None of this stuff existed before 2000, as far as I can tell. It sure gets all the attention, all that ruckus. Is it all distracting us away from seeing or doing something else?


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