Seems to me that instead of thinking like lines in a chart, we need to think like cells on a Petri dish, or mushrooms under Michigan.
I was taught as a kid that there were these things called "countries" and they existed as lines on a map and everybody in these "countries" spoke the same and followed the same rules. French guys all swore allegiance to their President and ate stinky cheese. As it turns out there are also French who speak German and eat sausages. There are Romani, who have no country and speak their own language but wander around owing allegiance to a local person. In Iraq and Afghanistan people speak many languages and owe allegiance to the local lord, like in the Middle Ages.
We tend to think that tribal societies evolved into countries, but in fact one group of people decided to change the way they thought of leaders and began to think they were a country. Not all of them, not everywhere, any more than everybody gets a spring cold in my neighborhood. But if they did you could say everybody in my neighborhood now swears allegiance to colds. The other people who did NOT decide to change the way they think are still tribal or uber-family oriented.
Online you may be part of a "government" which governs the way you live, obligates you to certain actions. Your economy may be thru Paypal or eBay. It may be barter through file sharing. Your army may be a group of hackers who meet online and do things online as a group or as individuals. A society is what we agree it is, and we can agree that it is mutable, flexible and heat sensitive. If everybody, or the majority or even a small group of people agreed that money was just flat green paper slices, and real labor was the currency of choice, like it is when homeless, then the actions of groups based on money would be extraneous to your ken. You wouldn't recognize it when you saw it.
The Mafia is a tribal government and so is a government like our own where there are agencies which exchange information and goods via a system not common to the civilians around it. Yet, it governs the actions of those inside it. If you want to deal with those people, you need to know the government which controls them and you HAVE TO be able to recognize a government when you see it.
There are hostages in Iraq, taken because the tribal government in that region takes hostages and barters them for some form of good or service. The people in that tribe may know some other tribe which will act as a fair broker. They naturally enough see our troops and their tribal form of government and expect we operate along those lines. Why else would a small group of men and women go into harms way if not directed to by their tribal leader, a person owing allegiance to a greater tribal leader and on up the line, sometimes going sideways for a distance as individual arrangements are satisfied.
Our government calls itself a Republic and is nominally ruled by a pyramid scheme of loyalties. The main tribal leader of the military is George Bush, but he has no ties to the people on the ground, they are not part of his immediate tribe, the tribe of incredibly wealthy oil brats. So bargaining has to take place in a disconnect. The hostage takers want certain tribal members released by the local American tribal lord. BUT that tribal lord must obey the commands of his leader and on up to George Bush. It is not a diffusion of tribal loyalties, it is a pyramid scheme. Who gets nailed in a pyramid scheme? The guy on the ground floor, the guy with the gun pointed at his head. The top tribal leader says "Bring 'em on!" ands "We will not negotiate with terrorists." which is silly because we are ourselves terrorists. Terrorists say "We will terrorize members of your tribe until your leader, in order to protect his tribe, agrees to our reasonable requests." like when fire-bombed Iraq, killing tens of thousands of women, children and old men. None of them were combat troops, so they should have been immune to the hit. Like in the Civil War you could picnic on the hillside and watch the battles. Now you are in them, part of them, a "soft target".
We have brought them to our form of non-tribal government. We have shown them the way we operate and they are operating in that manner. Shock and Awe. Take down a building, kill innocent people, make a political albatross. Deny responsibility for your actions. Pass the buck, follow the money, kill a commie for Christ.
The poor soldier never expected his targets would turn on him. He was thinking as trained, linear. He did not realize the kid with the flowers had a bomb jacket on. He did not realize that his commander in chief would not bail him out. He thought he could win, because WE have evolved past the tribal government. WE are superior, more advanced, less primitive. But if you had a dual-processor Unix driven many-gigahertz computer and a large rock to move, isn't a long stick a better tool? There is no linear evolution even in governments.
The local community organization, whether it is "Take Back the Streets" or the local mosque in down town Albany, is better equipped to deal with a rash of muggings than is the entire Marine Corps or the U.N. Those groups can not do a damn thing to help a man whose daughter was raped by the drunken son of a local Mafia lord. You have to go to the Godfather and make a trade of some service. So a Constitutional amendment is worth the paper it is written on with regards to how a redneck will deal with a flaming queen who is negotiating for a job. It is all tribal and all individual. Governments do not exist except in the mind of the beholder.
There is a tribe of people who believe that this world is a dream. The real world behind the dream can only be entered by the use of strong psychotropic drugs which grow nearby. When they go hunting or other activities which are vital, they take drugs, even dosing their dogs. Then they can SEE reality and bring him the meat. It works and has worked for thousands of years. If you were to deal with them, you would have to take these drugs or they would not see you as part of reality. You would be part of the dream. If you were to impose our reality upon them, you would kill the group, just as if you pull a happy deep water fish out of the ocean where it has swum for 40 million years, back into the sun and happy bright waters, you would kill the ancient fish. Other fish have evolved to deal with the shallow waters, even walking on land sometimes, but it is not a pyramid. The old fish has survived by not changing. It has shown us the folly of thinking that time is a line. It is a spider web which has caught us all. You walk on the non-sticky threads.
So by not seeing the world as a spider web we risk the sticky threads of life. Iraq is very sticky and even a fierce wasp can be eaten by a bunch of hungry little spiders if it walks on the sticky threads and is caught. Ants can be stuck and thousands of ants crawling on the web will not kill or capture the spider because they think in lines and will pile up on the sticky threads. If you imagine the sticky threads as not having physical presence, but being an idea, you can see that a people can be stuck in a form of thinking which is not in their best interests...even if all of them think that way, it still ends up on the web being eaten by tiny spiders.
Ancient forms, ancient gods, ancient truths. Not the truth the spindoctors spin, the threads of scam, cooked books and press conferences, but the thread which run from truth, to truth...from tribal lord to tribal lord. The uncle of the man who raped your daughter calls in a man who borrowed money to pay off a loan shark. The rapist is taken care of, will no longer be a threat. Now you have a debt which cannot be placed into a bank, but governs your actions. We are governed by our obligations, not our laws. All Americans break Laws. We speed, we cheat, we lie, we kill. We are out of control and some uncle will be called in to make a phone call to have some big man with a softball bat visit us. The two knee-cap buildings go down and the debt is paid, but since we cannot see that reality, we fail to see the balance.
When we firebombed downtown Baghdad, bombed a wedding party, machine gunned down a happy Iraqi family, calls were made, favors were called up, men named Ahmed rolled up their sleeves and packed explosives into a can of coffee. A balance had to be made. This is government, this is commerce. We fail to recognize it, but that is because we are not on the same drug, the same dream. To say there is such a thing as collateral damage only makes sense to those who can see a blown apart baby as a "thing" and not a godson or daughter. Family ties, tribal ties...these endure. Here and there, forever and a day, people pay respect to local leaders and wise family members. This is civilized, this has a deep, long history and has never been replaced.
So we invent a form of government based on laws we do not obey because we are drugged on power, on destruction power, on economic power. The bombs are real, but the money is a fiction, one which changes value every single hour of every single day. People don't always value your values and you cannot make them do so at the point of a gun. That just makes them angry. I cannot make you a pagan by killing your daughter and saying that GODDESS told me to do it. I cannot impose democracy from within a Republic ruled by the wealthy elite onto a tribal region ruled by local leaders who live with their neighbors and respect their beliefs. You can't give what you ain't never had and you cannot lose what you never had.
We never had a chance, we never had a democracy, we never had a plan, we never had a need. We had a dream and we shot it. We had a farm and we paved it. We had a child and we got a phone call saying our child has been killed by strangers because our leader put them in harms way, in front of the tanks. Phone calls are made, messages are left, form letters are mailed, but the balance is not achieved because we do not believe this reality. We want our dreams back, we want our drugs back, we want our child back.