FRESNO, CA — Kurds are what the Discovery Channel would call the base of the food chain in the Middle East. They're born casualties, spawning in huge numbers to keep the local predators well fed. Kurds grow up brave and stupid, loyal to a little prince or chief or political hack who uses his people like poker chips to get something from one of the countries occupying Kurdish territory. And as long as you've got that fatal combination of brave, loyal and dumb, backed by a huge birth rate, you're going to see Kurds getting gobbled up like Atlantic Cod. For all I know the words are even related; maybe "Kurd" is just a dried Cod.
If the Kurds didn't enjoy being prey, they'd have tried sticking together once in a while. But in all of history no Kurd could ever stand by any other Kurd long enough to hold off all the hungry Arabs, Persians, Turks, Brits and other sand carnivores swimming around the Fertile Crescent.
Of course this is one of those smug pieces of advice people in high-GDP countries just love to give their neighbors across the tracks: "Why don't you people stop shooting each other—and mow your lawns! That crabgrass outside your place is making my retirement years a Hell on earth!" Once you've lived in a ghetto, and Kurdistan is one big, dry, cold ghetto, a junked-car backyard for Turkey, Iran and Iraq, then you understand real easy why it makes more sense to turn on your local rival, betray him to the occupiers, instead of making some noble common cause against the oppressor. It comes down to something even a Swiss or Swede can understand: jobs.
There's only ever been one job in Kurdistan: playing Wog Wrangler, rounding up your fellow wogs to sell to the Turks, or Persians, or Arabs. You can try selling them as cannon fodder—that's maybe the most common sales pitch—or you can convince the foreign oppressor that your neighbor is so dangerous that he ought to pay you and your cuzzes some of his Turkish or Persian or Arab gold to go round the varmint up and turn in his dangerous Kurdish head for the bounty. If you don't—if you have an attack of Kurdish patriotism and decide you'll stand up for your neighbor, all for one and one for all—he's definitely going to try collecting the bounty on you and all your male relatives.
That's the simple logic of living as a tribe without a state: if you don't cut a deal with the occupiers, your neighbour will and you won't like the fine print. In fact, you'll BE the fine print.
So when you're an occupied tribe, habits like telling the truth and minding your own business are lethal. The advantage is always going to go to the bitchiest, most lying-tongued little slandering pig in the village, the jerk who doesn't have a qualm about sucking up to the Turkish (or Persian or Arab) junior officer in charge of the local garrison and, after telling him how smart and handsome he is for a few hours, passing a secret warning about what a threat to the public safety you and your family are. And if the Lieutenant happens to feel grateful to the informer, maybe he wouldn't mind giving him your cow and that nice pasture behind your house, once he's had you and all your kin rounded up and shot.
Over time, a system like this will do a wonderful sped-up evolutionary job of cleaning out any leftover decency from the local population. Are you the kind of hardworkin' dude who puts in a good day in the fields, comes home to the family and doesn't bother anybody? Well, you're dead meat for the first snitch to catch the lieutenant's ear. You're Kurdish toast.
By the way, you can see that this kind of pattern holds for most occupied countries, like, say, Iraq. You can bet that the Iraqis who were the first to suck up to us, the most persistent and shameless at shining our shoes and selling us info, are exactly the same kind of slime. They're the same everywhere, and they always rise to the top after an invasion. It's a good reason not to invade unless you've already got your own intelligence, so you don't have to buy their bullshit. Which we didn't, of course. So you can imagine how many neighborhood scores we've helped settle. A lot of old wounds from Baghdad High School's playgrounds got settled that way, I bet: poor little four-eyed Ahmed got picked on by big bad jock Raheem, but little Ahmed studied his English, got a job as Coalition interpreter and the first interrogation he did, he didn't even bother listening to what the suspect was babbling about, he just translated it as, "He says there is a dangerous terrorist here named Raheem, a cruel boy who never picked me for volleyball—I mean, who is harboring terrorists, planning attacks, and must be killed immediately!"
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