For what follows it is best understood if you have seen the film Red Dawn.
If you haven't had the privilege of this film I recommend it. Basically its the mid-Eighties, Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Charlie Sheen and the kid from E.T. are teenagers who start an insurgent resistance against the invading Russians in the mountains of Colorado after the start of World War III.
The film is violent and dark, but also awesome. It has the appeal that is analogous to that of the Zombie Apocalypse; everything in your life turns upside down and you get a chance to be a hero.
While discussing that film (which I have always loved) this morning I came to a startling realization: I'm one of the invading Russians. The men and women I will soon be fighting are the scrappy insurgency of young people whose lives were turned upside-fucking-down by a superior military power invading.
In the first scene of the film Russian paratroopers land on the school football field and when a teacher goes to see what is happening they shoot him down in cold blood. They then shoot up the school and kill some students.
While discussing that scene this morning I realized that in real life they would not have done that. I mean most soldiers of nations, be they Communist, Capitalist, Nazi, Ultra-Nationalist or whatever are not murderers. To any soldier I have met our job is just that; a job. Sure we believe in what we do, but no one thinks its ok to kill unarmed, non-threatening old men or children. Sometimes accidents happen, things get mistook and shit gets out of hand, but soldiers do not take pleasure in massacring civilians.
Yet in the film the soldiers do that, mostly to show that they are 'EVIL' and justifying beyond reproach what the protagonists do in retaliation. The retaliation takes the form of hit-and-run attacks, roadside bombs, rocket and mortar attacks, raids and assassinations on/of high-value targets. Sound familiar? That is because Hajji does it to us.
Now I'm not some ignorant prick; we haven't only killed Bad Guys. We make mistakes, civilians die, bad soldiers rape and murder, our government tortures. And looking through the eyes of a young Iraqi would someone saying sorry or telling you you're now 'free' help the pain of loosing your friends and family? Accident or not if someone killed anyone I care about I would do my best to see them dead. So how can I blame Hajji for wanting me dead? He's just doing what anyone with a sense of honor and balls would do I guess.
I'm not saying that I understand religious extremism, or flying planes full of innocents into buildings, or whatever. But I do understand how that maybe when we hurt Hajji and he feels the need to fight us, and someone else is standing there with a Koran in one hand and a vest full of C4 in the other Hajji might not give a damn about the particulars; he just wants to make someone else hurt too.
I hope I'm making sense, because until know I didn't have a lot of respect for the enemy. I lumped everyone who wanted me dead into one category. That category being people who stone women for adultery, fly planes into buildings and bomb embassies, people who hate secular education and music, and are not only willing to kill themselves for their beliefs, but everyone else too. Now I think maybe the guy who plants IED's is just mad at me for dropping a bomb on his girlfriend and kicking in his front door. He doesn't care about Sharia law or being a martyr. He liked Arabic pop music and soccer, he was all about pre-marital sex and Baywatch. But now we hurt him so he's gonna hurt us.
So through Red Dawn I now have some respect for some of my enemies. Never would have guessed that, would you?