Friday, September 16, 2005

Taking it out of context......

It's not often that anything I read keeps me up at night. But last night was different.

Let me tell you why........I had what was a very disturbing thought process for me about Iraq yesterday. Okay, that's a gross understatement. It ate at me all day. It ate at my very insides. Because I had to face a truth. And that truth hurt me. Yet it is etched so deep that I had to accept though it seemed to defy everything that makes me who I am.

And when I read this last night, as I had been meaning to do for over a week, it couldn't have been more perfect timing. Because it gave me the tools to be able to make it into something I could put my head around. Here is the necessary part of the post to understand:

We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.

I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin's egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful. For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.

"Then there are the wolves," the old war veteran said, "and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy." Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

"Then there are sheepdogs," he went on, "and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf."

If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath--a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.

He continues:

Let me expand on this old soldier's excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial; that is what makes them sheep.
The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog that intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.

Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, "Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes." The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, "Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference." When you are truly transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into warriorhood, you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference.

Okay, now that that's over. You noted the parts I put in bold, yes? I'm going to take Bill Whittle's fantastic post, and I'm going to take this theory, by the admirable Lt. Col. Grossman, and I'm going to take it out of context....purposefully. Because this part begs it to be: " The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog that intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours."

Ready? In this equation sheep are your average Iraqis, wolves are terrorists and ba'athists, and very, very important, sheepdogs are to be Iraq Security Forces members, IP, ING, and IA. (NOTE: Coalition forces are NOT sheepdogs in this equation yet, you'll see why.)

What happens in a place where the wolves have been allowed to assume the roles of sheepdogs for 40 years? And where now, today, nobody knows which sheepdogs are truly sheepdogs, and which are simply wolves in sheepdog skins?

A complete breakdown of trust. No trust, no law and order. No law and order, hence, parts of Iraq as you see them today. The reality for me to accept was that most people are sheep. While this is good and necessary, I just had never really faced it. And the second reality is that what I, what we, HAVE to deal with in Iraq is a place where there are wolves running amongst the sheepdogs. The sheep are so scared, they won't challenge a sheepdog that is nipping at their lamb, just in case it might be a wolf. Thus, the real sheepdogs aren't alerted to the wolves when they sneak into their midst.

Now, the flock is such a disaster, that we send in a new batch of sheepdogs. Let's say the ISF are Shepherd Dogs. And let's say that now we are going to introduce a new kind of sheepdog to the sheep. These sheepdogs are Border Collies (US forces and coalition). The sheep can recoginze them by their distinctive look and their intentions loudly declared by their actions. While the wolves can not hope to pass themselves off as Border Collies, they can still pass themselves off as Shepherd dogs. So why won't the sheep let the Border Collies know what the hell is going on with the wolves sneaking in amongst the Shepherd Dogs? Because the sheep's greatest fear is seeing their lambs hurt. And the wolves still hurt some lambs every once in awhile to be certain that the sheep remember what they are capable of.

The sheep trust the Border Collies. They know exactly what they will and will not do. The sheep won't trust Shephard Dogs again until they see them working with the Border Collies for some time. Only then will they believe that all of the Shepherd Dogs are fully committed to keeping the wolves from amongst them.

I, for one, am convinced that the number of wolves still in disguise as sheepdogs is vastly overexaggerated from so many years of people seeing the government, and in particular the military elements of it allowing this. The wolves keep up just enough to remind them. But try telling that to someone that's only alive because they've kept their head down and their nose out of others business for years. Iraqis do know each other, their friends, and their enemies. But they are very, very uncertain as to the identity of those who are supposed to be their guardians.

That's why we'll be there awhile. That's why the people won't talk when they know damn well that their neighbor is acting criminally. That's why they won't stand up. A very dear friend said to me in my frustration...."dear, you bring the kids here with you and then you report on one of these terrorists and return home here to wait after, can you do that?" I thought hard for a moment, I pictured my boys with me there, I, for a moment, pictured every parents' worst nightmare, and I felt the fear and adrenaline that comes with the idea of somone brutally hurting them, I forced myself to consider it honestly, and said, "yes, I could." "Because I would rather my children grew up knowing that I died for their freedom than to consign them to live like that." But you see, I'm an American. I've known the taste of freedom. And while I do believe that every human heart longs for it, I know that every human heart doesn't have the courage to pursue it. Especially after years and years of stress and violence. The reality is that every Iraqi needs to value freedom more than not just their lives, but their families. There are many, many brave Iraqis that are still trying, still struggling. All of our hopes are pinned on them, the true sheepdogs of Iraq.

That's what sheepdogs are for. I'm a sheepdog. And it shames me so much that there are wolves in my flock that I want to get on the first flight back there and hunt them down and get every one of them. Or die trying.


Anonymous Mike Cunningham said...

Yep; I read that post as well, and I liked it!

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Health said...

Yet it is etched so deep that I had to accept though it seemed to defy everything that makes me who I am.

4:11 PM  

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