I LOVE THIS LINE
"But as a professional, I have the luxury of putting politics aside and focusing on the task at hand."
Note where, by implication, this puts politicians in the scheme of things.
Please read the entire piece by this Marine.
In May of last year, I was sitting with some fellow officers back in Diwaniyah, Iraq, the offensive successful and the country liberated from Saddam. I received a copy of a March 30 U.S. newspaper on Iraq in an old package that had finally made its way to the front. The stories: horror in Nasariyah, faltering supply lines and demonstrations in Cairo. The mood of the paper was impenetrably gloomy, and predictions of disaster abounded. The offensive was stalled; everyone was running out of supplies; we would be forced to withdraw.
The Arab world was about to ignite into a fireball of rage, and the Middle East was on the verge of collapse. If I had read those stories on March 30, I would have had a tough time either restraining my laughter or, conversely, falling into a funk. I was concerned about the bizarre kaleidoscope image of Iraq presented to the American people by writers viewing the world through a soda straw.
Returning to Iraq this past February, I knew that the Marines had a tremendous opportunity to follow through on our promises to the Iraqi people.
Believing in the mission, many Marines volunteered to return. I again found myself in the division headquarters.
Just weeks ago, I read that the supply lines were cut, ammunition and food were dwindling, the "Sunni Triangle" was exploding, cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was leading a widespread Shiite revolt, and the country was nearing civil war.
As I write this, the supply lines are open, there's plenty of ammunition and food, the Sunni Triangle is back to status quo, and Sadr is marginalized in Najaf. Once again, dire predictions of failure and disaster have been dismissed by American willpower and military professionalism...
I am not ignorant of the political issues, either. But as a professional, I have the luxury of putting politics aside and focusing on the task at hand. Protecting people from terrorists and criminals while building schools and lasting friendships is a good mission, no matter what brush it's tarred with.
Nothing any talking head will say can deter me or my fellow Marines from caring about the people of Iraq, or take away from the sacrifices of our comrades. Fear in the face of adversity is human nature, and many people who take the counsel of their fears speak today. We are not deaf to their cries; neither do we take heed. All we ask is that Americans stand by us by supporting not just the troops, but also the mission.
We'll take care of the rest.
SATURDAY, MAY 22d.
One year and 11 days (377 days) since CPT Patti left for Baghdad.
Sorry I wasn't here on Friday. I went down to Bavaria to mark 1ID's "100 Days of Deployment" with some friends. Perhaps I was invited to ensure they didn't get too deeply into a pity party...since I've seen the 100 day mark come and go three times, soon to be four.
But they did take me to a wonderful restaurant...and then to one lady's beautiful home where the Blue Margaritas were in bountiful supply.
And right in the middle of it all my darling wife called. She has purchased a cell phone from an Iraqi vendor. Our hope is this means we will be in contact more frequently than before. Anyway the crowd cheered when they could tell it was CPT Patti on the other end. That is how some of us are dealing with this...by noting and celebrating the positives in the lives of others.
Anyway...my thanks to Sarah for the invitation. And to Oda Mae and her husband for the engaging conversation (and the odd colored drinks), J (to whom it is just possible I might be distantly related) for hosting the after-dinner party, and E, most notably for seeing this deployment on her terms and setting an example to the rest.
But mostly to CPT Patti who knows I'm the odd "male spouse" surrounded by females and who doesn't bat an eye when I hang out with the majority. Make no mistake about it, I've earned the trust...that doesn't make me any less grateful that she has it.
A reader asks me to speculate...so I will.
I was wondering...could you explain why the Army and the Marines *are* on such different timetables? Are there any advantages to it? Does is create resentment between soldiers and Marines?
So...here is my speculation and opinion...worth every penny you paid for it, as usual.
Also, from your experience...can you speculate at all on how likely it is that the Pentagon will indeed extend the Marines' tours?
If one were to judge only from a cursory glance at Operation Iraqi Freedom one would be tempted to think of the USMC and the US Army as very similar in capabilities and functions. After all it was the 3d ID (Army) and the 1st MEF (Marines) that battled their way from Kuwait across Iraq and into Baghdad.
Historically however, there are notable differences in the two services. The USMC combines many of the capabilities of the Army, Navy and Air Force into one small, quickly deployable force, simplifying the ability to get what's needed where its needed in a hurry. In their role as "naval infantry" the Marines have a unique function.
The Army, as a larger, heavier force, may not be as quickly deployable, but, the theory goes, its size and capabilities make it the tool of choice for extended operations requiring seizing and holding ground.
As a result of these built in assumptions there are differences in how the forces are equipped. From a practical standpoint it can be fairly said the Marines are equipped for a lethal, but short stay...and the Army is equipped for longer haul.
One example I'm familiar with: a few years ago when I was serving as the Director of Army Food Services I worked closely with my Marine Corps counterpart. It was interesting to me to learn the Marines had no equivalent to the Army's Mobile Kitchen Trailer, a collapsable kitchen capable of preparing meals from raw, fresh ingredients. The USMC colonel explained to me "We don't plan to be there long enough to need it...that's what you guys are for.".
So...my speculation is the Marine Corps leadership has established the 7 month rotations for the Marines in accordance with their custom and tradition. By that I don't mean "just because we've done it like this in the past"...I mean they designed things to take advantage of their strengths.
Does it cause resentment? I'm certain it does. But jealousy and sour grapes between services is nothing new.
Will the Pentagon change the Marine corps tour lengths? That's a tough question. Certainly the expenses associated with the more frequent rotation will eventually become a factor. And one has to believe that everytime we change US "management" of a city we take a giant step backward in trust and efficiency in working with the locals.
On the other hand I honestly doubt anyone will make the change simply to "make it fair" to the Soldiers on one-year tours. And such a decision would also have to address the issues of brevity and longevity I discussed above. Plus, the Vice Chairman of the JCS is a Marine. I suspect he gets listened to pretty good.
However, given that we are stretched so thin around the globe and we are pulling folks out of the individual ready reserve I think it will ultimately seen as a way to stretch the assets further. So...in the end, my bet is those tours will be lengthened.
A CONVERSATION IN A CAB IN BAGHDAD
I understand your fears but I always have known this place to be busy until midnight.
-That’s true but not in my neighborhood, so I have to go back much earlier than that
-Where do you live?
-In Sadr city.
-Oh I see, but what do you think the cause of this insecurity?
-Is that a question?? They are those thugs and thieves.
-Who are those?!
-I agree, but I don’t understand your people there. Why do they support them!?
-Do you really believe that?? I swear to God they are no more than a couple of thousands terrorizing millions and hiding behind slogans like jihad and resistance. The whole city has got sick and tired of their doings. We just want to work, feed our children and take a break. We are tired of all this bullshit. They can’t deceive us anymore.
This idiot is taking advantage of his father’s name and we know the people who are gathering around him. Most of them are gangsters and ex-convicts with some foolish teenagers. They are anything but Muslims. Every now and then one of these cowards come hiding his face and fire against the American troops and when the Americans respond innocents get hurt.
I was encouraged by his attitude and asked: -Why don’t you try to do something about it?
-Who says we aren’t? I’m one of the people who reported some members of the Mahdi army to the IP and now they are in prison.
-Really!? God bless you. That was brave of you. These people really belong there.
-Sure they do! Did this idiot forget who killed his father!? And who took his revenge? Could he have ever raised his voice if it wasn’t for the same people whom he’s fighting now? Well let the Iranians help him now! Believe me brother when I say that the majority of Sadr city people are grateful for the Americans. We didn’t fire a bullet at them when they entered our city. We gave them the reception of liberators and they are. Why would we fight them now!?
DEMOCRACY BREAKING OUT IN IRAQ
A podiatrist who left Iraq 30 years ago said he is closing his Naples practice and returning to his native country to run for the presidency in 2005.
Rasool Sharif, 58, said he has traveled to Iraq twice in the last two months. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most respected Shiite cleric, recently asked him to return for more meetings, Sharif said.
"I was the only American who has met with him," said Sharif, who opened the Foot & Ankle Clinic in Naples two years ago.
Sharif said he is being recruited by the National Alliance of a United Iraq, which he described as a nonpolitical group of Iraqi professionals interested in the country's future.
The U.S. Army is finding soldiers for duty in Iraq wherever it can find them, and that includes places and people long considered off-limits.
The Army confirmed on Tuesday that it pulled the files of some 17,000 people in the Individual Ready Reserve, the nation's pool of former soldiers. It has been screening them for needed specialists and has called about 100 of them since January.
Under authorization from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the Army could call as many as 6,500 back on active duty involuntarily.
"Yes we are screening them and, yes, we are calling some of them up," an Army spokesman, Col. Joseph Curtin, told Knight Ridder.
"We need certain specialties, including civil affairs, military police, some advanced medical specialists, such as orthopedic surgeons, psychological operations, military intelligence interrogators."...
It is also considering a plan to close its premier training center at Fort Irwin in California so the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the much-vaunted Opposition Force against which the Army's tank divisions hone their combat skills, would be available for combat in Iraq.
No decision has been made on that plan.
KERRY'S CAMPAIGN PROMISE
We can be just like Spain!
If elected, Kerry promised that virtually all U.S. combat troops will be out of Iraq by the end of his first term.Gee, Senator...seems to me we should tie the pull-out to the accomplishment of the mission.
PERSONALLY, I COULDA GONE ALL DAY WITHOUT READING THIS...
The commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East said Wednesday that he may need more than the 135,000 troops already in Iraq once political control is handed back to the Iraqis on June 30 because the insurgency is likely to grow even more violent then.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"This story seems to reflect the fevered insights of those with little, if any, connection to the activities in the Department of Defense".
Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita referring to reports by an investigative journalist that Secretary Rumsfeld approved prisoner abuses.
In the year since Saddam Hussein was overthrown, American-led troops have used a wide range of force to combat insurgents opposed to the military occupation. This week the army tried a new approach to silence Iraqi guns:
In their first program of its kind in Baghdad, American troops engaged in a weapons buyback program. It began on Saturday and was so popular that it was extended for another two days.
By Tuesday night hundreds of Iraqis had been paid $761,357 for 56,536 items, from bullets to assault rifles to mortars and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, according to the military. The soldiers set up well-guarded sales tables at three locations — a field, a cigarette factory and a soccer stadium surrounded by an empty lot.
"This is probably the only place in Baghdad where they can walk up with an R.P.G. launcher and not have a coalition soldier shoot at them," said Col. Robert Abrams, commander of the troops carrying out the program on a dusty lot outside Baghdad.
"We are trying to get as many weapons as possible out of their hands and into ours," said Capt. Bill Williams.
AN INTERESTING PERSPECTIVE ON OUR HISTORY AND OUR EFFORTS
American history sometimes seems to be the same story repeated over and over again. Some group of big-dreaming but foolhardy adventurers head out to eradicate some evil and to realize some golden future. They get halfway along their journey and find they are unprepared for the harsh reality they suddenly face. It's too late to turn back, so they reinvent their mission. They toss out illusions and adopt an almost desperate pragmatism. They never do realize the utopia they initially dreamed about, but they do build something better than what came before...
And it is that way today. We are tricked by hope into starting companies, beginning books, immigrating to this country and investing in telecom networks. The challenges turn out to be tougher than we imagined. Our excessive optimism is exposed. New skills are demanded. But nothing important was ever begun in a prudential frame of mind.
Hope begets disappointment, and we are now in a moment of disappointment when it comes to Iraq. During these shakeout moments, the naysayers get to gloat while the rest of us despair, lacerate ourselves, second-guess those in charge and look at things anew. But this very process of self-criticism is the precondition for the second wind, the grubbier, less illusioned effort that often enough leads to some acceptable outcome.
Today in Iraq local commanders seem to be allowed to try anything. We are allowing former Baathists to man a Fallujah Brigade to police their own city. We are pounding Muqtada al-Sadr while negotiating with him. There is talk of moving up elections so when an Iraqi official is assassinated, he is not seen as a person working with the U.S., but as a duly elected representative of the Iraqi people.
THURSDAY, MAY 20th
One year, nine days (375 days) into CPT Patti's deployment.
GIVE 'EM HELL, ZELL
My favorite democrat asks some pointed questions.
Why is it? Why is it that there’s more indignation over a photo of a prisoner with underwear on his head than over the video of a young American with no head at all?
(Thanks to Beth and Cathy)
Why is it that some in this country still don’t get that we are at war? A war against terrorists who are plotting to kill us every day. Terrorists who will murder Americans at any time any place any chance they get.
And yet here we are, America on its knees, in front of our enemy, begging for their forgiveness over the mistreatment of prisoners.
Andrew McCarthy reminds us the terrorist in charge told us this would be a dangerous time.
Take a couple minutes and go read the entire thing. It will put things in a better perspective.
The sarin, the Council president's brazen murder, and the butchery of Nick Berg must anneal our resolve, not diminish it. The enemy is desperately stepping up its attacks because the enemy has glimpsed defeat. Defeat for the jihadists can be avoided only if America loses its sense of purpose and shrinks from its mission. It can be avoided only if an effectively abandoned Iraq is allowed to descend into civil war — particularly, the sectarian strife between Sunnis and Shia that Zarqawi expressly sought to provoke.
Even for those of us who remain steadfast that the U.S. incursion into Iraq was a vital step toward vanquishing the militant Islamic threat that Saddam protected and promoted, it must be conceded that there is much for people of good will to debate — both about the concept and the execution. But now is not the time. There is, after all, nothing to debate about this: In Iraq are thousands upon thousands of our best and bravest, in the thick of what the enemy aptly calls "the zero-hour"; and we have not only rhetorically linked this battle to the war our nation engaged after the 9/11 attacks, but our military is incontestably fighting the world's most lethal terrorists at this very moment.
AN AUSTRALIAN BLOGGER DOING WHAT WE DO HERE
Finding the good stuff. But the down-under version is very concentrated.
You really should go read this entire piece.
Freedom does not come easily or without sacrifice. The upheaval that most Americans see on TV and read in the newspaper is not the complete story of Iraq. There is only a minority here who want to stop the progress being made and to keep others from having individual freedoms.
They have little or no value for human rights, let alone human life. They see an opportunity in this time of massive change to take control and dictate the lives of Iraqis.
They are cowards.
Instead, we have seen numerous examples of Iraqi citizens risking their lives to serve their country.
One of the first events we staffed was Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's visit to the Baghdad Police Academy in February. We were going to include one of the female cadets in a camera shot, but she refused because she said she was lying to her family about training as a police officer, instead telling them that she was working at a library.
Despite the obvious danger of serving on the police force, she still wanted the job. Since we arrived in Iraq, the academy, led by an affable 6-5, 350-pound Scot, has graduated three classes of officers, and more are being trained every day...
This week the Ministry of Foreign Affairs became the ninth department to be turned over, another significant step toward sovereignty.
We have helped coordinate the formal transfer ceremonies, which are generally well attended by Arab media and all but ignored by western journalists.
What's been most evident at these events is the national pride and joy Iraqis are experiencing, from the words spoken by each minister to the bright, inspiring voices of school children singing Mawteni (My Homeland), a stirring nationalistic song akin to America the Beautiful.
Rend Rahim, Iraq's representative in Washington, D.C., said, "We Iraqis have achieved an enormous amount of success so far. We now have the power to set the course toward our own chosen destiny."
GEE, YA THINK?
CIA interrogators have seized on an admission by Saddam Hussein that he fears torture at the hands of his Iraqi enemies and are threatening him with a quick handover to the new government in a renewed effort to break his silence...
Lengthy daily interrogation sessions have been structured around an apparent attempt to prepare Saddam to be handed over to the interim government that takes power after June 30. The 67-year-old, who admitted that he feared torture soon after he was arrested last December, has been told that his transfer will be delayed if he begins to cooperate.
Saddam is due to face trial at a new war crimes tribunal in Baghdad after the transfer of sovereignty.
MY KIND OF HERO
A stray bullet had blown a gruesome, 3-inch-wide hole through Miller’s right forearm – just when the truck he was in broke down. After half scrambling, half sliding out of the vehicle, Miller found himself lying in the road with his wounded arm hanging at his side, telling himself everything would be all right, and that the medic was on his way.
But the shooting continued, and everything was not all right.
As the rest of the convoy pushed onward, several members of Miller’s team continued to fire on the attackers on the left side of the road. From his new vantage point Miller could see there was trouble on the right side as well.
"I saw three guys come out of the bushes on the right side of the road and I yelled out, but everyone was still focused on the left," Miller said. "I grabbed my SAW, wedged the stock under my arm and rested the barrel on my knee and opened fire on the three guys. I don’t know how I did it, but I hit those three and a couple more, and then there’s a big gap where I don’t really remember much."
Still under heavy fire, Miller got a field dressing for his arm from a medic, grabbed a bag of extra ammunition from his truck and barely made it into the back of a cargo truck. He later sustained additional injuries to his arm and chest from shrapnel that ricocheted off nearby equipment.
"They told me in the hospital that it took three guys to convince me to put my weapon down, and that apparently I had shot more than 30 enemy insurgents after I’d been hit," Miller said. "I guess I just went into auto pilot."
Later reports confirmed that the 29-member team was under attack by more than 200 enemy soldiers.
Miller is scheduled to receive his Purple Heart in Bangor on June 12, and has also been recommended for a Silver Star. But medals and recognition are still far from his mind.
"I wasn’t concerned with my injuries," Miller said. "I was concerned with performing my job and making sure there were no more injuries in the convoy."
The welfare of his unit still weighs heavy on Miller’s mind, and he expects he will return to Iraq when his leave is over.
"I plan to spend as much time as possible with my kids while I’m here," Miller said. "I’ll be heading out to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. in a month for rehab.
After that, it’s more than likely I’ll request to go back – I just can’t see sitting around over here while the rest of the unit is still in harm’s way."
Killeen - A collaboration between Killeen I.S.D. and Fort Hood officials will allow deployed soldiers in Baghdad to view the school districts graduation ceremonies.
Eight local graduations will be webcast from the Bell County Expo Center in Belton.
The webcast will allow soldiers in Iraq to view graduations on their computers.
In addition to Killeen's four high schools, Salado, Temple, Copperas Cove and Belton schools are also participating in the project.
THE STORY I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR
It highlights some of the many soldiers who did the right thing.
Read it here.
A RESERVIST, ABOUT TO JOIN THE FIGHT, REMINDS AMERICA WE ARE AT WAR
Which segues to my summer and early fall in uniform: For a short time, the U.S. Army will make me part of the minute-by-minute, ground-level effort in Iraq. I specify in Iraq, for every American, in some form or fashion, is part of this war. It is sad that some people do not realize that.
America's wealth makes it easy to create the perception of distance, that "here" and "over there" aren't intimately linked. American successes in the War on Terror have created, for a vocal segment of the America body politic, the illusion that 9-11 didn't change things too darn much. The inevitable difficulties of war -- war, by definition, is a mistake-ridden enterprise, Carl von Clausewitz's realm of "friction" -- lead another vocal faction into the delusion that America is somehow responsible for fomenting the conflict.
That clan touts figment utopias and fantasy options that ignore the difficult facts. This war cannot be willed away, it cannot be won by slick talk or poignant U.N. resolutions. The war is not America's fault. Islamist terrorists -- the export of decayed Middle Eastern dictatorships and autocracies -- decided if they could knock out America they could knock off the world.
We are now fighting a worldwide, "simultaneous war" in at least two dozen places around the planet, with the fight in Iraq key to America's long-term strategy. The dysfunctional political systems in the Middle East export their tribal, civil and religious wars as international terror. Porous borders, weapons of mass destruction, commercial jet transports, ballistic missiles, mass communications -- the light and dark of modernity -- mean their tribal battles are no longer local horrors.
Removing Saddam began the reconfiguration of the Middle East -- a dangerous, expensive process, but one that will lay the foundation for true states where the consent of the governed creates legitimacy and where terrorists are prosecuted, not promoted. The job of building New Iraq falls on the Iraqi people, but they have a precious opportunity, one supported by government civilians and contractors, volunteer workers and, of course, the uniformed military personnel serving with the U.S.-led coalition.
It is my privilege to join that group for the next few months. I know the hardest burden in this deployment will be borne by my wife and daughters. I thank them for their sacrifice.
THE RESULTS OF REAL ABUSE
The kind CNN wouldn't broadcast.
Monday was the day Liath Aqar could again tie his shoes. Then he untied them just to do it again.
Seven Iraqi men are rediscovering the joy of tying their own shoes again -- something they haven't been able to do for nine years.
The men -- who are small-business owners -- had their right hands cut off during the Saddam Hussein regime as punishment for Iraq's collapsing economy.
AN APT ANALOGY
Iraq is to the war on terror what West Berlin was to the Cold War — freedom's hope in a sea of totalitarian despair.
To secure freedom's newest beachhead, the war on terror requires the same steely bipartisan resolve that led us to victory in the Cold War, in the leadership tradition of Presidents Truman, Kennedy and Reagan...
One only wishes Kerry's and Kennedy's condemnation of terrorism were as fierce, and that they were as interested in winning the war on terror as in winning the presidency in the fall. Presidencies, after all, last not more than eight years, and the war on terror surely has years to run.
In March of 1948, when the Soviets encircled free Berlin in an effort to make the West flinch, Democratic President Harry Truman stood firm. Instead of seeking a hollow peace, he engineered the Berlin Airlift that fed a vanquished former foe, buying it precious time to establish freedom's roots, despite an America weary from the ravages of war.
At personal political risk and at the cost of American lives, Truman established freedom's Eastern European beachhead in Berlin. Today, Berlin is the capital city of a thriving, peace-loving democracy — a prospect that took faith to envision in the dark days following World War II. At the time, many doubted whether Germans were capable of democracy, and Truman's resolve gave freedom room to breathe.
In Iraq today, Bush faces an uncannily similar situation.
ANOTHER OF OUR OWN
BECAUSE IN SPITE OF WHAT CNN WANTS YOU TO THINK, MOST SOLDIERS ARE GOOD PEOPLE
"We spent 12 to 14 hours a day in the camps," he said. "It was such an honor for us to be able to participate, but it was the soldiers who kept saying, 'We appreciated you guys sacrificing your time to come over and see us.' They said that over and over. I couldn't get it. They were thanking us for making a sacrifice. I just told them, 'Thank you and God bless you for defending our freedom."'
I wonder if the press will point out over and over and over that these 1ID soldiers arrested and jailed these folks attempting to murder them, instead of just blowing them away.
In the second incident, a combat patrol followed a white pickup truck after a mortar attack at 12:54 p.m. Sunday against a base near Baqouba, about 40 miles northeast of Baghdad.
The patrol, from the 2nd Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, based in Vilseck, Germany, tracked the truck to a house and found 10 people unloading a cache of weapons, according to the 1st ID report.
The cache included two Russian-made PKM machine guns with 2,600 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition.
Soldiers escorted three of the men to jail.
You may recall the website called "America's Dumbest Soldiers" that Citizen Smash had reported on his site. I referred to it as The Death of Civility.
Well, a reader notified me today that the offensive website has disappeared. No details...just gone.
And just gone is good enough for me.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 11th.
CPT Patti's deployment has gone on now for One Year and Eight Days (374 days).
Somehow it seems longer.
THE ARAB PRESS TAKES NOTICE
"Why does Arab media fail at self criticism and why can't Arab human rights NGOs pressure Arab governments the way their counterparts do in America?", asked the host of satellite news channel al-Arabiya's (one of the harshest critics of the United States) "Spotlight" news program. The follow up commentary was even more astounding, given the source. "The Americans exposed their own scandal, queried the officials and got the American Government to accept responsibility for the actions of its soldiers," stated the host before asking her guests why this sort of open and responsive action isn't taken in the Arab world.
One of the largest newspapers in the Pan-Arab world raised the stakes even higher yesterday with this editorial comment: "Bush has apologized and claimed that democratic regimes make mistakes, but that the guilty will be punished. What happened at Abu Ghuraib is not surprising as there are many stories of horror inside Arab jails. The abuses that the Arab governments condemn at Abu Ghuraib are nothing compared to what happens in these governments' jails. Will the Arab regimes go on TV and apologize to their people in the same way President Bush did?"
My colleague who heads our Arab media unit here in Baghdad called these statements nothing short of revolutionary for the Middle East media. And while they may not seem that profound on the surface, they are threads of a far greater, and still unfolding, story. Yes, the horrific actions of a few have tainted the good work of the many. But they have unwittingly done something else. The events of the past several days have given democracy a global stage within which to prove its worth.
MARK STEYN GETS IT RIGHT
The American people, no thanks to their media, still understand what's real and what's just cheesy Beltway dinner-theater. That's why the Abu Ghraib scandal is dead, even if the networks don't yet know it. It was dead before Nick Berg. It died because the Democrats and their media groupies overplayed their hand, as usual, and so turned a real scandal into just another fake scandal for senatorial windbags to huff and puff over. In the last few days, the Mirror, a raucous Fleet Street tabloid, has published pictures of British troops urinating on Iraqi prisoners, and the Boston Globe, a somnolent New England broadsheet, has published pictures of American troops sexually abusing Iraqi women. In both cases, the pictures turned out to be fake. From a cursory glance at the details in the London snaps and the provenance of the Boston ones, it should have been obvious to editors at both papers that they were almost certainly false.
Yet they published them. Because they wanted them to be true. Because it would bring them a little closer to the head they really want to roll -- George W. Bush's. If you want to see what the Islamists did to Nick Berg or Daniel Pearl or to those guys in Fallujah or even to the victims of Sept. 11, you'll have to ferret it out on the Internet. The media aren't interested in showing you images that might rouse the American people to righteous anger, only images that will shame and demoralize them.
Goh Chok Tong, the prime minister of Singapore, was in Washington the other day and summed it up very well: ''The key issue is no longer WMD or even the role of the U.N. The central issue is America's credibility and will to prevail.'' In Britain, they used to say that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton -- i.e., it was thanks to the fierce resolve inculcated by an English education. The war on terror will be lost in the talking shops of Washington -- i.e., it will be thanks to the lack of resolve inculcated by excessive exposure to blow-dried pundits and Senate hearings. The war now has two fronts. In Iraq, the glass is half-full. In Washington, it's half-empty, and draining fast.
WAY, WAY OFF TOPIC
Lazy? Stupid? Both?
A German couple who went to a fertility clinic after eight years of marriage have found out why they are still childless - they weren't having sex.
OMAR GETS IT
We have a critical security situation, that’s right and we need to deal with the defects quickly. But no matter what precautions we take, we cannot be a 100% sure that we can protect every single person, including our leaders and the higher officials who make favorite targets for the terrorists - but we still can make their attempts go in vain by making our leadership *replaceable*.
Omar has figured out that a nation is bigger than one man...that it is founded upon ideals that transcend any one of us. Good for ya, Omar...I hope others are listening to you.
This idea may seem odd or even a little bit cruel but I can give some further explanations; the terrorists think in the same way their dictator-masters do. They believe that every nation has “and should have” one strong man to lead her and if it happened one day that the nation “lost” this strong man (the Khalifa, in Osama Bin Laden's followers' minds), she will certainly be doomed.
The main point that they fail to capture, is that this idea applies only to totalitarian regimes and does not apply to democracies.
This doesn't mean, at all, that we don't respect our leaders or that we do not appreciate their services. We can take a good example from the history of the USA; when president JFK was assassinated (America was one of the two super powers in the world at that time), the Americans were deeply saddened by the loss of such a great leader but they did not stop at that point. They moved on and kept their determination to overcome the loss and that’s why America became the only super power in the world in less than 30 years from that tragic incident.
That's why we'll keep moving forwards because we're building a model for democracy here, we've sacrificed a lot in the last decades and we're ready to give more if needed but we're not giving up.
KEEP THIS IN MIND...
When you see those media stories about the unemployment rate in Iraq. Firas writes that so many jobs are available his friends have become choosy.
Actually I was late this time because I had to find employees for the company I work for and these days that’s not a simple matter to do...
I went to my friends and the people I know first, and they didn’t take it for many reasons some of them
• ”Its too far place from my house”
• “It’s a long morning line to enter the place”
• “Its not what I am looking for”
Believe me none of them said its low salary. I even had to put ads in papers to find what I need...And the job opportunities are so many that people started to choose the suitable jobs for them.
More of the same.
King Abdullah II of Jordan, a key player in American diplomacy in the Middle East, said Monday that Iraq should be run by a strongman - possibly drawn from the ranks of Saddam Hussein's army - after the United States hands over formal sovereignty to Iraqis on June 30...
Some folks still don't get it.
"I would say that the profile would be somebody from inside, somebody who's very strong, has some sort of popular feeling," King Abdullah said, apparently registering disapproval of the former Iraqi exiles at the core of the current leadership.
"I would probably imagine - again, this is off the top of my head - somebody with a military background who has experience of being a tough guy who could hold Iraq together for the next year," he said.
THAT'S OK...THE AMERICANS WILL DO IT
US troops have taken over operations at the Spanish military base in south-central Iraq as Spanish troops continue with their withdrawal from the country, the Defence Ministry in Madrid said today.
"WINDS OF PEACE"
A former Saddam Hussein-era general appointed by the Americans to lead an Iraqi security force in the rebellious Sunni stronghold of Fallujah urged tribal elders and sheiks Sunday to support U.S. efforts to stabilize Iraq.
Retired Maj. Gen. Mohammed Abdul-Latif rose to prominence after battles last month between the Marines and insurgents hunkered down in the central city of Fallujah.
''We can make [Americans] use their rifles against us or we can make them build our country, it's your choice,'' Latif told a gathering of more than 40 sheiks, city council members and imams in a Fallujah suburb.
After the meeting, Latif said the situation in Fallujah has greatly improved, that ''winds of peace'' prevail in the city.
EXPANDING THE ARMY
As the Senate takes up debate on a $422 billion defense authorization bill, it seems clear that the U.S. military will grow substantially in fiscal year 2005.
The House bill, which will be taken up later this week, mandates that the Army add 30,000 additional soldiers and the Marines increase troop strength by 9,000.
SOUNDS RIGHT TO ME
I wouldn't want to be the guy to try to explain why folks doing the same mission are on such vastly different timetables.
As Pentagon officials scramble to find troops to maintain an expanded force level in Iraq, they are considering extending the time Marines are scheduled to stay there, a senior military official said yesterday.
"We are looking at the Marines' tour," the official said during a briefing on plans to send 3,600 soldiers from South Korea to Iraq.
The study could result in nearly doubling the Marines' expected time in Iraq...
Those Marines and the similar number who are due to replace them later this year are slated to stay for seven months; Army troops remain in Iraq for at least one year.
Marine commanders decided on seven months in Iraq because that was close to the 6-month deployments Marines normally make with amphibious task forces.
But the shorter time deployments are offset by the chance that the Marines could be sent out again in seven months. Troops are promised a year at home after a yearlong deployment, the military official said.
TUESDAY, MAY 18th.
This is day 373 of CPT Patti's deployment.
And those of you who wrote offering words of encouragement for our girl...or offered to do more, please accept my most heartfelt thanks.
I forwarded her some of your comments. She wrote again last evening and said thank you for the encouraging notes I had sent on to her.
I'm grateful to have such remarkable virtual friends.
NOW THIS REALLY, REALLY ROTS
We can't find Saddam's WMDs...but they apparently can. And now they are trying to use them against us.
A roadside bomb containing sarin nerve agent recently exploded near a U.S. military convoy, the U.S. military said Monday.
Bush administration officials told Fox News that mustard gas was also recently discovered....
"The Iraqi Survey Group confirmed today that a 155-millimeter artillery round containing sarin nerve agent had been found," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt (search), the chief military spokesman in Iraq, told reporters in Baghdad. "The round had been rigged as an IED (improvised explosive device) which was discovered by a U.S. force convoy."
The round detonated before it would be rendered inoperable, Kimmitt said, which caused a "very small dispersal of agent."
A senior Bush administration official told Fox News that the sarin gas shell is the second chemical weapon discovered recently.
Two weeks ago, U.S. military units discovered mustard gas that was used as part of an IED. Tests conducted by the Iraqi Survey Group (search) and others concluded the mustard gas was "stored improperly," which made the gas "ineffective."
They believe the mustard gas shell may have been one of 550 for which former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein failed to account when he made his weapons declaration shortly before Operation Iraqi Freedom began last year.
Investigators are trying to determine how insurgents obtained these weapons — whether they were looted or supplied...
Gazi George, a former Iraqi nuclear scientist under Saddam's regime, told Fox News that he believes many similar weapons stockpiled by the former regime were either buried underground or transported to Syria...
George said the finding likely will just be the first in a series of discoveries of such weapons.
"Saddam is the type who will not store those materials in a military warehouse. He's gonna store them either underground, or, as I said, lots of them have gone west to Syria and are being brought back with the insurgencies," George told Fox News. "It is difficult to look in areas that are not obvious to the military's eyes.
"I'm sure they're going to find more once time passes," he continued, saying one year is not enough for the survey group or the military to find the weapons."
CHIEF WIGGLES ISSUES AN INVITATION
I welcome any news media that would like to delve into the details of the other side of the story, the one that represents the way most American soldiers act. I would love to have the opportunity to explain my world, from my perspective, the one shared by the majority of soldiers and especially interrogators. I will gladly give them the finer details of each phase or approach that was used.
Why can’t we show the world that what they are seeing is an isolated incident not representative of the thousands of soldiers who do sincerely care and who have accepted the humanity of our fellow brothers, the Iraqis.
This is your chance News Media. This is a way for you to redeem yourselves from the barrage of accusations that you are biased and one sided, that you are just looking for any opportunity to crucify us and our leaders, and that you fail to provide us the American people with balanced factual reporting...
Can you not hear the scream of the American people, demanding a relief from the depressing images plastered across every magazine, tabloid, and screen? Are you listening to your audience who wants balanced, truthful and unbiased reporting? ...
Why won’t you help us tell the world what we are really all about? Why do you insist on fueling the fires of hatred so that more Americans can be killed out of ignorance and misunderstanding? Where is your allegiance?
To illustrate a fraction of the bias problem, we counted the number of prisoner-abuse stories on NBC’s evening and morning news programs (NBC Nightly News and Today) from April 29, when the story emerged, through May 11. There were 58 morning and evening stories. Using the Nexis news-data retrieval system, we counted the number of stories on mass graves found in Iraq from the reign of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and 2004.
The number of evening and morning news stories on those grim discoveries? Five.
Just as the media focuses on Fallujah and now Abu Gharib while ignoring the thousands of daily good deeds performed by Americans and others, those calling for Rumsfeld’s head on a platter are being given a pass on their motivations for doing so.
When the media trots out one poll after another showing that half of Americans think Iraq is headed in the wrong direction, is it any surprise?
Between network news, cable news, and major magazines and newspapers, Americans are being treated to a daily diet of insurgency and violence. Rebellious Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has gotten oodles of coverage, yet thousands of faceless coalition troops building bridges and schools have received almost none.
In fact, that half of Americans actually still believe we did and continue to do the right thing in bringing freedom to the Iraqi people is a testament to the independent-mindedness of the public...
With well north of 100,000 Americans in Iraq, it is perhaps inevitable that some are going to commit unspeakable acts. But that’s human nature.
What’s much more difficult to accept is that the media is neither presenting the whole picture of how Americans are serving nobly in Iraq nor making clear the track records of those calling for Rumsfeld’s resignation.
THIS AIN'T YOUR FATHER'S COLD WAR ARMY
It will be interesting to see how North Korea (remember them? They've been awful quiet lately.) plays this. Seems to me it will be hard to continue to press the issue of an overly aggesive and hostile USA when we've just removed a brigade from their border.
The Defense Department has drawn up plans to move a brigade of troops from South Korea to Iraq, a senior Pentagon official said late Sunday.
If the plan goes forward, it would fulfill twin goals of reshaping the American military's deployment on the Korean Peninsula and relieving pressure on an Army stretched thin by heavy commitments in Iraq.
The plan under discussion calls for moving about 4,000 troops from the Army's 2nd Infantry Division from South Korea to Iraq, the senior Pentagon official said.
There are about 37,000 American troops stationed in South Korea under a 50-year-old security treaty.
PROOF OF A VERY SHORT MEMORY
German Press Review: Europe Should Play Bigger Role in IraqWell, weasels, we offered you the chance way back then.
MONDAY, MAY 17th.
The 372d day of CPT Patti's deployment.
I received an email from my darling wife overnight. And frankly, she's a bit down in the dumps. She doesn't go into great detail, but I can tell that some of it is related to the casualties the brigade has suffered since being extended. If I'm reading the signs correctly, there is a general sense among the soldiers and family members that 1st Brigade shouldn't "own" these...since 1st Brigade's watch was supposed to be over already.
Now...it is difficult to argue with that position, but I can see from here that such a perspective is one that will simply put a dagger through the heart of one's morale.
I suspect the temperatures topping 100 degrees also do their part to bring down morale. I'm guessing when the temperatures came down last Autumn the troops were counting on no more 100 degree days.
Finally, I'm guessing that being on a potentially hazardous job for over a year, with at most, one two-week break (one week in CPT Patti's case) is just exhausting.
A CASE STUDY IN HUMANISTIC PSYCHOLOGY
And its downright Maslowian.
Read patientily...as the Iraqi who writes this is doing so not in his mother tongue.
I always talk to the people there and the accelerated rate their consciousness and understanding are growing at, often surprises me.
There is a lot more worthy of your attention. Go read it.
In one of the meetings I asked them about their opinion about the government and the president they would like to have in the future, here, a man said “ I’d prefer a Christian president” as a matter of fact I was shocked as I wasn’t expecting to hear such a perspective in an almost exclusively Shei’at village.
Here the others agreed and clarified their friends point “we mean that we don’t want an Islamic or Shei’at government” “see, the SCIRI party established a library and a school to give religion classes that no one attends despite it cost the party thousands of dollars and occupied one of the towns’ buildings.
Take a look at the water treatment plant that the coalition established, people gather around it every morning”. “We want those who know what we need, not those who tell us to do what they want” another man added”.
A LONG, LONG HISTORY OF BARBARISM
Islamic history is full of chopped heads being sent around by special delivery to reassure rulers, to terrorize foes and to impress the common folk. In 1821, the Qajar king of Persia ordered a week of celebrations when he received the severed head of a Russian general who had been captured in a battle near Baku. In 1842, the Afghans massacred the British garrison in Kabul, a total of 2,000 men and their wives and children, chopping off their heads and putting them on sticks to decorate the city. (They allowed one man to leave to report to the British.)...
(I)n 1992, the mullahs sent a "specialist" to cut off the head of Shapour Bakhtiar, the shah's last prime minister, in a suburb of Paris. When the news broke, Hashemi Rafsanjani, then president of the Islamic Republic, publicly thanked Allah for having allowed "the severing of the head of the snake."
In 1993, Fereidun Farrokhzad, one of Iran's most famous pop stars, had his head chopped off in Germany by a Khomeinist hit squad after the mullahs issued a fatwa for his murder...
Throughout the 1990s, head-chopping was routinely carried out by the Army for Islamic Salvation (AIS), the Islamic Armed Group (GIA), the Salafi Group for Preaching and Armed Jihad (GSPAJ) and other Islamist terror outfits.
One Algerian specialist in slitting throats and cutting off heads was known as Momo le Nain (Muhammad the Midget). He was a 20-plus-year-old butcher's apprentice recruited by the GIA for the purpose of cutting off people's heads. In 1996 in Ben-Talha, a suburb of the capital Algiers, Momo cut off a record 86 heads in one night, including the heads of more than a dozen children.
In recognition of his exemplary act of piety, the GIA sent him to Mecca for pilgrimage...
Americans should also remember Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was brutally murdered in the same way in Pakistan over two years ago.
Although head-chopping is now seen as a mode of communication between Islamist militants and the Western world, the overwhelming victims have been Muslims.
Mankind has a natural propensity to become used to the worst atrocities and factor in the cruelest facts of life. But the sight of a severed head will continue to shock even the most blasé of the cynics. This is why those who are defying the whole of humanity in this war on terrorism are certain to continue to employ people like Momo le Nain.
Further proof that sitting on your butt and hoping will not make them like you.
Folks...as Spain could tell you if they'd take the time to examine their own wounds, this isn't about being, or not being, in Iraq.
The Al-Qaeda terror network views Canada as a legitimate target because it is a "selfish" nation committing "terrorism" against Muslims around the world, an unofficial spokesman for jihadists waging holy war against the West said Friday.
So...there it is. The terrorists have now set the standard. Either you are their friend, or their enemy.
Khalid Khawaja, a friend of Osama bin Laden's who calls the Saudi terrorist and his followers "the most wonderful people of the world," told the National Post that Canadians should not be surprised if suicide bombers want to strike their country.
"It is very simple," he said. "As Bush says, either you are a friend or you are an enemy. So if you are not my friend, you are our enemy. So it is very simple. When you are supporting the enemy [the United States] then you are a target."
How many countries will sign up to be their "friends"?
SUNDAY, MAY 16th.
This is CPT Patti's 371st day in a land far far away.
It is also the day I finally add the comments function to this website.