I came across this great post from Michael Yon. He is a war correspondent in Iraq and writes with skill and sensitivity. In this article he talks about the interaction between the British forces and the Bedouin. Here’s a taster:
Approaching a Bedouin: a young British Officer wears no Helmet and carryies no rifle. This war cannot be won by mere force. We did not come here to fight every Iraqi—or Bedouin—or whatever they might be. This Bedouin is no threat to our national security, or interests. He can, however, influence both, in his small way.
Few things are as reliably deceptive as appearance. If one of our jet pilots must eject, he might land out here among someone’s camels. I recall an officer talking about one of our helicopters crashing in Mosul, where local Iraqis were the first to the scene, and tried to help our people. Of course, sometimes the opposite occurs. The point is these people who live different lives and have different religions are not all out here plotting ways to kill us.
In journeys I made before the war, to places like India, Nepal, Tibet and China, most of the people I encountered seemed to think about us just as often as we think about them: practically never. Most of the peoples of the world are living simply, and simply living. Or trying to. They do not aspire to map and explore the depths of the seas, or to tease the secrets out of quarks and quasars. Most people in the world cannot read. Many languages have no alphabets. No dictionaries. Many peoples have no access to libraries, museums or cultural institutions. Most haven’t time to care about geo-politics.