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Power is hope in this sense. Without hope, all you can really do is run for your life, hide, or die. When I was there, we had hope because we had Apache helicopters that could fly day or night, find the bad guys that mortared us, and send a hellfire missle into their laps. It didn’t take long for the mortar attacks to slow down and instead of 5 or 6 they would send one or two. With the advent of drone use, it became very difficult for IED attacks to succeed.

I was a civilian contractor trying to help build bridges, hospitals, schools, police stations and such. But we wasted a lot of money on security; we had to. We fought the war there all wrong. The problem was the ones making the decisions were following the same bad model we did in Vietnam. It didn’t matter if it was political or religious ideology. Our approach was unsustainable. Sadaam was not the problem. Beating him created a power vacuum and we let it backfill with criminals disguised as Imams. We failed to understand how their society is built and how it functions, so naturally it wouldn’t work.

I believe there is a way to straighten things out in the middle east. We were figuring it out right before our president decided to neutralize our influence and let the bad guys move back in. There will always be conflict, but it can be controlled. Unfortunately, the powers that be don’t want peace in the middle east, not really. So it will go on like it is. Lots of people suffering needlessly. It could get fixed, but no one seems interested in doing that anymore.

Desperate, poor, ignorant, people are easy to control. Just use a carrot and a stick, and you will get them to do whatever you want, including run off the edge of a cliff. Most Americans refuse to realize how thin the veil of security is here. I believe there will come a time when the veil gets ripped wide open, and we will have to face a cold reality most people in this world are already dealing with. I believe the theme of this forum is appropriate. When trouble comes, it is best to be somewhere else at the time. If not, then as invisible as possible. There is no real way to prepare for what is coming. No supplies, no money, no silver or gold or bullets. Your wits and your luck will be what keep you alive, and a willingness to do things other people can’t, or won’t.

I suggest watching the movie Papillon, with Steve McQueen, from the perspective of how much a person can go through to stay alive and keep pushing for a goal. It’s going to get miserable when our little empire comes crashing down around us. Being able to get through the day may be all a person can accomplish, one day at a time.

If there is anything that will save us, it will be how devoted we are to caring for one another. I just don’t see that happening for a while. Everyone seems to be out for themselves now. Our political leaders, our major corporations, all they see is the bottom line. It is unfortunate that something really bad has to happen for us to figure out what is really important. I guess you can’t just study misery from a historical perspective and really learn from it, you have to experience it for the knowledge to be of any use. We have good examples of bad times, Stalingrad in WWII, the great depression, Ethiopian famine. We don’t seem to be able to learn from other’s mistakes. We have to make them ourselves by and large.

In Baghdad, people in neighborhoods survived by devoting themselves to one another. They were able to fend off all but the worst gang attacks. But theirs is a different setup. Neighborhoods there are occupied by relatives, so they had a reason to look out for one another. I don’t know any of my neighbors, and likely won’t because we have nothing in common except for the view. They are pleasant enough people. But they just don’t share my views on life, and would find my priorities alarming, if not offensive. It would be nice to find a few like minded folks to live next to. But our situation here is not the same anyways, and I doubt it will make a difference when the tanks come rolling down the street. Better to be somewhere else then.