Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Natural Fauna

The higher order fauna here in Iraq is quite varied. On top of the heap is the American military, mostly because we pay for everything. And, much like our Commander in Chief, we usually end up getting what we want. The American is a very functional animal, and may often be seen building, blowing up, and building again. He is very task oriented, which sometimes puts him at odds with the native species, and even the TCNs (see below), who tend to do exactly as they are told, but not a sliver more.

Under us, but still fairly high up in the pecking order are our allies the Brits and the Aussies. I lump them together because most Americans do, not being able to tell the two countries apart except for the fact that Foster’s Beer comes from Australia.

Contractors, although in imported species, contractors have become integral to the local food cycle, performing many jobs that would otherwise require more military personnel on the ground, which, of course, is not politically possible. Although they are sometimes territorial, for the most part, contractors and the military have each adapted to the others presence. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

Next are the Iraqis, who are included on this list only because they’ve been here the longest. This is a point of irritation for some Americans, who seem to think we might do better in the war without our erstwhile brethren in the Iraqi Army [note: this is not a personal opinion]. Also, it seems the civilians get in the way a lot, but I suppose they probably think the same thing about us.

Then come our much touted “other allies,” such as Poland, Bulgaria, or Fiji, notable mostly by their absence. Not that they don’t do a good job, there’s just not a lot of them over here, although I actually did see an Estonian soldier last week (perhaps he was lost?). In defense of our “other allies,” I do have to mention that our gates are guarded by Ugandans, who do seem both diligent and steadfast. As was explained to me, troops from third world nations are good for jobs where an American would get bored, mostly because they’re just glad not to have to worry about where their next meal is coming from [again, not my personal opinion]. The Ugandans also deploy with their families, which probably works wonders for their morale.

And finally, while in a better position socially than they would be in some countries (read: Saudi Arabia), at the very bottom of the food chain are the TCNs, or Third Country Nationals. These are the Indians who serve us dinner, the Pakistanis who fill our sandbags, and the Filipina women who work the laundry. By and by they are a very hardworking lot, and, although the mid east is not their natural habitat, they seem to have adapted very well, much like our own illegal Mexicans.

Oh, there are also small numbers ducks, pigeons, sparrows, lizards, and - I am told - rats, spiders and scorpions, although I have not seen any of the latter.


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