Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Iraq

I received the following from an email list of which I am a member. I've received permission to to post this message here, leaving out any identifying names. The person who wrote it currently works in Baghdad but is not a civilian contractor or a member of the US military. I don't know that I have her permission to identify her employer, so I won't.

First, and with all due respect, you (not directed at me--Darren) are wrong about this. Very, very wrong. Come join me in Baghdad and work with my Iraq staff of Shia, Sunni, Kurd and Christian for even a week and then tell me there is not such thing as the Iraqi people. They are Iraqis - they have extremely strong ties to their religious groups as is part of their culture but they all firmly believe they are Iraqi. The majority of Iraqis are not extremists. This is SO important to understand. They don't have to agree with the insurgents but to disagree without the weapons to defend yourself is certain death in this town.

Second, the attacks in Baghdad have increased because the troops are coming. 20K Americans and 6 Brigades of trained Iraqi troops. The insurgent groups are striking hard while they can - before the neighborhoods are cut off and cleared out. Even Sadr has ended is boycott of the government and come back to the table.

Third, this is no puppet government. It was democratically elected by the Iraqi people and the historic significance of that fact should not be belittled. Get that idea out of your head. Are they strongly influenced by the US? Yes. We expected too much of them to think they could hit the ground running in 2006. There is corruption - no argument, but there is corruption in EVERY government. Deal with it.

Lastly, 90% of the violence in Iraq occurs in only 4 of the 18 provinces. Only 4. What do you think is happening in the rest of the country? Progress. What would be fool hardy would be to pull out now. You are believing the media hype. A stable, democratic Iraq is very much a possible future reality, but we have to stay the course.


There's one person's view, a view I agree with (for the most part) from a person whose views I respect even when I don't agree with them.

Of course I watched the State of the Union speech last night. I think it would have been more accurate for the President to say, "Our nation is strong, but the state of our union is weak." Honestly, genuinely, truly, I think there are people in Congress who want us to lose this war. This isn't the war we wanted, but it is the war we've got, and some want us to lose it so they can gain political points.

I now fear that Iraq can become like Vietnam--but not in the way the lefties claim. General Giap later wrote that he was ready to sue for peace after the Tet '68 Offensive. Make no mistake about it--we were surprised by that offensive, but reacted quickly and violently and stacked up Viet Cong bodies like cord wood. In fact, Tet was such a military blunder for the VC that the Cong ceased being an effective fighting force; after Tet '68, the North Vietnamese Army was our principal foe. Giap knew they had lost and was ready to sue for peace--until he saw the American media describe America's defeat. At that point his plan changed from winning to not losing; he would simply wait the Americans out.

Even then we tried to fight a politically correct war. We allowed the enemy sanctuary in Cambodia, Laos, and North Vietnam. We forbad our aircraft to fire unless fired upon, the proverbial Catch 22. We kept trying to negotiate a peace instead of win a war.

Still, our soldiers fought on. And they did an exceptional job. Even fighting with one arm tied behind their back as I described above, they still punished the enemy. The NVA was abused. Let's not forget--our last fighting men left Vietnam in 1973, but it wasn't for two more years, in 1975, that the North Vietnamese could mount the invasion that finished off South Vietnam. That's a pretty bad thrashing they must have taken, not to be able to strike decisively at the South for two years.

And what happened after we abandoned the South Vietnamese--while the Soviets continued to assist the North? The history is well-known, there's no need for me to detail it here. The history of communism is consistent, if nothing else--executions and reeducation camps top the list, with numbers of victims rising well into the millions. With Vietnam you can add the "boat people", those who fled on anything that would float to get to freedom. I've heard the stories firsthand, I've worked with boat people. They knew what they were leaving behind, and were willing to risk perilous days on rickety boats just for a chance to exchange their lot for freedom. How many people died on the boats? How many were "reeducated"? How many were tortured? The Left doesn't like to answer those questions; those are "unfortunate events" that occur whenever there's a "change in government". Euphemisms are the stock of the Left.

This brings us back to Iraq. It's difficult to fight a real war today--war is ugly, it's brutal, and free people don't have much of a stomach for seeing such brutality on tv. We try to fight it nicely, all civilized-like, while our enemies slice throats and put the video on YouTube. Just like in Vietnam, our news media serve us a daily dish of "the war is lost", "it's hopeless", "we're losing". Like General Giap, our enemy sees this and knows that they need only hold on long enough to outlast the American public. We could win, but many in Congress want us to withdraw--just as we did in Vietnam. We see the difficulties that exist today; is there any reason to believe the strategic situation will be any better, for us or for the Iraqis, if we abandon them like we abandoned the South Vietnamese?

I think of World War II, and wonder how today's media would have dealt with that war. After getting hit at Pearl Harbor we got lucky at Midway. After that we bled our way across the Pacific, but at least we had a few patches of sand in the ocean to show for our efforts. Let's look at the European Theater.

1941: Japanese conduct secret attack on US Navy base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Why are we fighting the Germans?

1942: U-boats sink allied shipping at will. This is unwinnable; we need to withdraw and let the Brits deal with this themselves. The Nazis didn't have anything to do with Pearl Harbor.

1942: US 8th Air Force begins daylight bombing raids over continental Europe. Casualties are atrocious, reaching as high as 25% on any single mission. This expenditure of American blood and treasure is too costly and isn't stopping the Nazis at all. That's because the Nazis aren't fighting for a country, they're fighting for an ideology--and you can't fight an ideology militarily. We need to negotiate--or let the British fight this fight. We should "redeploy" our forces to North America and defend our borders. We've already lost more men than we lost at Pearl Harbor--a "grim milestone".

1942: Americans land in Algeria and Morocco--and are attacked by French forces, our supposed allies. This is an obvious failure of diplomacy, showing what a political lightweight Roosevelt is. He should stop smirking with that cigar in his mouth.

1943: Our first encounter with the Germans, at the Kasserine Pass, goes horribly for the Americans. Our men are outgunned, out-trained, and out-generaled. There's no reason for us to be fighting in North Africa. It's time to discuss impeaching Roosevelt.

1943: Still bombing the Germans, but they're still fighting. How much is this war costing us each day? How many bombers are we losing? How many schools could we build with the money spent on the bombers that are shot out of the sky each day?

1943: American amphibious landing at Anzio, near Rome, results in heavy US casualties. We're no closer to defeating the Germans. Italy is a quagmire.

1944: We're still bombing the Germans, and they're still fighting back--harder than ever. How many more airplanes must we lose before we realize this is a lost cause? We keep sending and losing more aircraft and men, with no end in sight. Congress is abdicating its oversight of the executive branch.

1944: D-Day invasion results in an allied toehold on continental Europe. It took two weeks for allied forces to achieve the objectives that they planned to reach on the first day. Obviously Roosevelt and Eisenhower had no plan for dealing with German opposition. Normandy is a quagmire. What companies are getting rich off this war?

1944: Allied movement across France requires carpet bombing. How many innocent French have to die for Roosevelt's war? We bomb their houses, destroy their towns--and we expect them to welcome us as liberators? Republicans should press for a non-binding resolution to demand the President stop sending more troops to "liberate" Europe.

1944: Germans counterattack through Belgium in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge. They achieved complete surprise over the allies, whose losses were heavy. Where was allied intelligence? How come they had no idea the Germans were coming? How could the Germans mass such forces right under allied noses and the allies not know it? Republicans in Congress should consider hearings on the conduct of the war. Europe is a quagmire.

1945: Germans surrender. Roosevelt betrays Eastern Europe to the communists. Wait, we like the communists. But Roosevelt is a warmonger. How should we cover this?

I've said it before: our Fourth Estate is a Fifth Column. It gives aid and comfort to our enemies. It didn't do so in WWII, but General Giap himself said it did in Vietnam, and it's doing so in Iraq today.

Is it too early to wonder, and fear, if night is descending on civilization itself?


Update, 1/25/07: I don't usually read the Huffington Post, but this post ties in with what I've written above. The comments on that post indicate why I don't usually read the Huffington Post.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't think that a single wartime president has escaped the wrath of those who think they know better. It's always easier to second guess decisions that have to be made with sometimes with incomplete, but compelling, information. I don't know what the liberals, Democrats and general whiners think they would do when credible information of an imminent attack against a US city or asset. It's a simple fact of life that sometimes you have to make a snap decision and hope for the best. We have become a society that think it can insure outcomes of things as large as war and as small as childbirth. Nothing is guaranteed in life except death. And as sober as that fact is, there are those who think they can game the system and still win. Or that they can spread misinformation and make the enemy love us. Neither situation is correct. And either one of them could get us in a war on our own turf. With an active insurgency, a lucrative commodity and a porous border along with a Congres that wants to twiddle their thumbs and pretend everything is just fine, we have an increasing potential for a violent terrorist act. The nuclear clock has been moved up two minutes. Usually liberals tout that as a signal for disaster. I wonder why they have been so quiet this time around, when they have the majority power to change things.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your sentiment, I am just curious do you think there is ever a point where pullout is appropriote (beyond absolute or even definitive victory). Granted you dont think we are there, which is a reasonable opinion, but there must be some point where you draw the line in the proverbial sand. Personally, I have no idea where that point is.

Evan

Sherwould said...

Darren, Your flashback to the realities of the Vietnam era was quite accurate. And your WWII 'News Coverage' parady was outstanding.

Too bad so many Americans are too young to remember when America could actually win a war.

Oh well - excellent post!

allen said...

Jeez Darren, take a pill and, oh yeah, how about a little faith?

The Soviet Union is almost twenty years in its grave. There are stock markets and private ownership of land in China. There are now three, maybe, democracies in the Mideast. A higher percentage of the human race goes to bed with a full belly then any other time in human history and they go to sleep with a reasonable expectation of going to bed with a full belly tomorrow.

Communism is now a historical footnote everywhere except Cuba, North Korea, most college English lit departments and, maybe, Venezuela. Lybia, if still not a particularly pleasant place to live, may actually be in the process of becoming a responsible member of the international community. Afghanistan had its first election. Ever.

There are now more then 4,000 charter schools in the U.S., damned few of them don't have waiting lists and state caps on charter schools are under pressure in most states as evidenced by the fact that in most states the caps have been hit.

Sure there's some scary stuff out there but there's also more then a few glimmers of light.

Darren said...

I'd have more faith if our own people weren't trying to put out the light.

Darren said...

Evan, as usual you ask a good question. I'd quit the fight when there's a greater chance of failure than of success. I don't know where that point is, either, but the people in charge have a broader picture than you or I do. Did you know that tidbit about 4 of 18 provinces being most of the problem? I didn't. Fourth estate=fifth column.

It's fortunate we don't run this war by poll, and it's fortunate that the President isn't swayed by polls.

Anonymous said...

James Q. Wilson, emeritus professor from UCLA, handled the "Could we have won WWII with the media of today?" question last year:

http://www.aei.org/publication25102

allen said...

Sherwould wrote:

And your WWII 'News Coverage' parody was outstanding.

Yes!

I'd like to post it to my gun club's e-mail list. Any objections? Any changes you might want to make like attaching a copyright notice?

Too bad so many Americans are too young to remember when America could actually win a war.

You have to look pretty hard but the evidence is out there that the communists didn't win Vietnam on the battlefield. Not a win but not a loss either. Then there's Grenada which is treated as a borderline war crime but it did signal that the Iranian tactic of grabbing a bunch of Americans for display to news cameras might have a real downside to it. Afghanistan.

Even Iraq has a distinctly positive aspect to it: all those Islamofacists who would happily be killing Americans all over the world are bogged down in their quagmire. They can't resist the attraction of Iraq where many of them find a very efficient meat grinder in the form of the American military.

Darren wrote:

I'd have more faith if our own people weren't trying to put out the light.

We have to accept the hand we're dealt.

People are good, bad, smart, stupid, generous, mean, classy, trashy, fat and thin. Sure there are people trying to put out the light but there are others keeping the lights burning and I think there's a pretty good amount of evidence that the bad guys are losing. They haven't lost. Yet. But much of what they want to impose on the human race doesn't have the attraction it once did.

Darren said...

Allen, feel free to distribute this as you wish. If I understand copyright law, I own the copyright on anything I publish here anyway. I'd be satisfied, though, with either an attribution or a URL should you publish this somewhere else.

Darren said...

I just read Wilson's article referenced above. Much more scholarly than mine, but the conclusion is the same.

Anonymous said...

I loved this post. Finally, I am treated to an intelligent assessment of the situation at hand by someone in the blogosphere.

It is interesting that you reference the Tet Offensive and the public aftermath. I find that most people in my generation and younger were raised to believe that our military had lost that battle.

Just out of curiosity, have you read Victor Davis Hanson's Carnage & Culture? It is an interesting book about the military history of western culture and the implications of what will happen to us if we fail to embrace our modern military tradition.

David said...

"I'd quit the fight when there's a greater chance of failure than of success"...the decision should also consider the nature of the adversary and the consequences of failure. For France to be defeated by Kaiser Wilhelm II would have been humiliating and economically and culturally damaging, but would not have led to hundreds of thousands of French people going to the gas chambers. France's defeat by Hitler, on the other hand, did lead to this outcome.

Anonymous said...

If you support the Iraq war, you're the bad guy. YOU'RE the one messing with America. YOU'RE the one letting more US troops die. Good goin'.

Darren said...

I appreciate your intellectualism, anonymous. *yawn*

QoD: I haven't read any of VDH's works, but I enjoy listening to him when he shows up on Hugh Hewitt's radio show.

Mike said...

Darren:

Fine essay. But may I suggest that the state of our union, of our nation, if you will, is actually excellent. Not only is our economy extraordinarily strong, particularly considering the drain of a war and a summer of high gas prices, but unemployment is at historic lows, more Americans own homes than at any time in history, our national debt continues to decline at a rate much faster than predicted, and we remain the one indispensable nation in the world in every meaningful way. Even the UN has recently begged us for more yearly revenues (no common sense there, but unbelievable gall).

Our problem is a national lack of seriousness, leadership and responsibility. I'm not bashing the president here; he has shown significant leadership. The media, of course, feeds on and fuels this, and our politicians keep the pot stirred to deflect any meaningful examination of their own activities. Thus is Barak Obama a serious and instant candidate for the presidency despite having no qualifications whatsoever except being relatively young, black, reasonably well-spoken and good-looking, while Joe Lieberman had to fight his own party for reelection as a senator. Oh yes, and despite the fact that the left looks upon smoking and smokers as a step down from scabrous sufferers of the black death, the fact that Obama is a smoker is, dare I say it, spoken with a kind of wonder in the media.

I was teaching a bit of La Morte D'Arthur to my students today and was struck by an interesting parallel. Merlin took pains to hide Arthur for many years after the death of his father, Uther Pendragon, the king. The nobles fought over the crown for many years in such brutal fashion that the very existance of England was in jeopardy. Why did Merlin, who in the Arthurian legends goes beyond mere prophecy, often intervening, putting the right words in the right ears at the right times, allow the nation to descend into utter chaos, resulting, doubtless in countless deaths and untold misery? Was it merely because he knew the outcome and was indifferent to suffering?

I suspect that Merlin knew human nature well enough to understand that without teetering on the edge of the abyss, England would not be willing or able to do the right thing. Mere conflict was not enough, Only when the people, as individuals and as a people were utterly humbled, only when they knew that they stood mere inches from utter destruction would they accept what any rational people would see as salvation. Only then would they do what was necessary to secure their survival. Absent that understanding, complaceny, smug self-satisfaction, partisan advantage, ego and procrastination would reign rather than Arthur. It is also interesting that in the legends, it was the commmoners, the people, who at last demanded that Arthur be crowned. Their "betters" had to follow suit.

I fear that is where we now stand. At the SOTU speech perhaps the defining moment came when the president asked the Congress to gather their resolve and support victory, and the Democrats, en masse, sat, sullen and unmoved, smirking, or ala Pelosi, convulsively blinking.

As Walter Cronkite, "the most trusted man in America," told Americans the war was lost on the occasion of the Tet Offensive, our media is doing the same. Not only will our new strategy fail, but when it does, we have no choice but to cut and run.

Sadly, history is repeating itself. If we indeed cut and run in Iraq, our nation, and the world, will know misery and sacrifice like it has seldom experienced before, and our military decisions, unless we are willing to meekly accept national annihilation, will not only be all bad, but truly horrendous and will almost certainly involve the use of nuclear weapons to keep at bay those myriad states and actors who will have aquired their own nucs and who will have little or no restraint in employing them. What will it take, I wonder, before we can all--or enough of us to matter--see into the abyss? Will our commoners rise up and hold their betters to account?

Oh, and on a slightly less serious note, Anonymous exibits a common liberal misunderstanding. We have a military for the express purpose of war fighting. Our soldiers volunteer understanding that. They know that people die in wars as may they. But their spirit is that of General Patton who said "You don't win wars by dying for your country. You win wars by making the other poor bastard die for his." Whenever a liberal whines that those who support a war are causing the death of our troops or when they profess to care so much about our troops that they wish them to no longer be a military, they betray their utter lack of understanding of the very reasons for the existance of the military.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great post!

Vis a vis President Bush's handling of the war and focus, I brought up the similar trials and tribulations of Abraham Lincoln during the War Between the States in another blog; public sentiment and the press were squarely against him.

Your WWII was hilarious.

A headline from Associated Press today: Biden: 'Failed policy' emboldens enemy . No a failed policy doesn't do that; division, quibbling, grandstanding, and politicking amongst our lawmakers does.

The Educational Tour Marm

Darren said...

Isn't it odd how the Copperhead Democrats wanted to do in 1864 what they want to do in 2007--cut and run?

And compared to the Union in the Civil War, the Iraq war is running like a well-oiled machine! Yet, the result was a positive one.