That wasn't smart. Like I've said a thousand times: listen to the Brits! They've done this stuff a thousand times, in countries all over the world, and they know what pays and what doesn't. Down in Basra they ran into the same sort of yelling, but they stayed cool. And so did Basra. If you want a perfect example of why not to shoot into a mob, the Brits have a classic. In the early 70s in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, the Brits got sick of getting attitude from the local Micks, always complaining and yelling. So they transferred the soft units out of town and sent in the 2nd Paras. Now the Paras...don't get me started. These are maybe the best soldiers in the world, but diplomats they ain't. Never mind "Shoot first, ask questions later"; these guys are more like, "Shoot first, and one in the head for anything still twitching."
Next time the locals staged one of their rock-throwing "protests," the Paras reacted. Bigtime. In 30 seconds there are -- guess how many dead? That's right: exactly 13. The same number we hosed in Fallujah last April.
It probably felt good, if you were a Brit -- finally we shut those noisy drunken Micks up. But it was the worst thing that ever happened to the Brits in NI. Next day there were lines, literally lines, of guys wanting to join the IRA in every town in NI, and a lot of towns in the Irish Republic too.
And from then on, it was 30 years of urban guerrilla action cinema: Central London blasted to confetti not once but twice, bombs all over the place, massive security that ended up costing the British economy hundreds of billions in lost efficiency and tourist money. Moral of the Story: blasting the crowd may be fun -- Hell, it's probably a pure delight, I admit -- but it doesn't pay. If you're going to invade other countries, you gotta be cool.
Even then, we could've fixed it up. This is the weirdest part of the story: after the killings, the clan leaders for the 13 dead apparently contacted the US officers in charge for blood money. That's how it's done: "You owe us for 13 dead cousins, dude!" It's not as cheap and moneygrubbing as it sounds. Just like with the Vikings, paying bloodmoney means "OK, I admit I got out of hand with the ol' battleaxe at the party last night. Um, real sorry about your wife and kids an' all...so that's, what? 20 gold pieces per wife, and for the kids, 40 per boy and 5 per girl?" (Face it, they were sexist and proud of it back then.)
It's a way of saying "Sorry, man." It's polite.
Maybe if we hadn't been lying to ourselves about what we were doing there, we'd have paid up. "Yeah, sorry -- got a little out of hand with the 25mm cannon there. You understand -- 9/11 and all, had to work out on somebody. Now how much is it per dead teenager?"
But nope. We were too snotty to pay up. I mean, think about all the hundreds of billions we've poured into fake "aid" to Iraq -- and we were too dumb to pay a few thousand in bloodmoney.
So surprise, surprise, Fallujah turns into Dodge City for American troops. Even the Principal at the Fallujah school we'd turned into our HQ got interviewed and said he was looking forward to driving a car full of HE into an American patrol.
Damn, I'd like to see my old vice-principal do that! They must breed a better class of VP in Iraq. Talk about "Be True to Your School." From May to July 2003, so many GIs died or were wounded in Fallujah that we did our first whipsaw move: now we were willing to pay the bloodmoney. We paid out $1500 per dead demonstrator and $500 per wounded. And to pour it on, the US put God knows how many millions into, get this, "civic improvements" for Fallujah. I love that phrase, "civic improvements": "Gosh, looks like your town could use some nice median islands, maybe some oleander plantings, and diagonal parking spaces to get more retail traffic in your downtown area..."