Just heard a Marine interviewed on NPR about how they had planned to bring “democracy” to Iraq and thus needed to get rid of the tribal structures that have been there for hundreds of years. But they soon discovered the tribes are what runs Iraq, and that they really had no clue what they were doing.
There is just so much wrong with the basic assumptions the Marines made. They assumed existing social structures could be easily replaced, apparently didn’t even bother to research what structures were already there and how they could be used, and made the quite possibly erroneous assumption the existing tribal structures were not democratic. Then wondered why they failed.
So, they treated the local culture and structures as meaningless and insignificant, and only belatedly discovered that, gosh who would have thunk it, that Iraqis might actually possess brains and competence.
This reminds me of what I blogged yesterday, that when the Spanish took over what is now Malibu, they banned the Indians from doing their annual burnings, then spent the following decades trying to put out the much bigger fires that resulted because of their arrogant cluelessness.
Much of the attitude of the Marines here arises from the mistaken imperialist belief that only the culture of the invaders has anything worthwhile to offer.