« the greatest threat is brainwashed fools | Main | day 2: stressed out already »

the long, hard war

Thirteen Killed After Helicopter Attacked in Iraq

War will always have its victims. When a large number of soldiers die at once, the reality of the the casualties of war stares us in the face. And then, just like everything else that happens in a war, it will polarize us.

There are those that will point to today's news and give it as a reason to pull out of Iraq. There are those who will mourn the deaths, but feel the need to stay in Iraq, to continue on.

Some will see the attack on the helictopter as proof that Iraqis don't want the coalition forces in their country. Some will see it as proof that Saddam's people - together with other Muslim militants - are still strong in number and that's why we need to stay.

If we stay, there will certainly be more casualities. This is a war, after all. Not just a battle against Saddam's forces, but a battle against terrorism. Eventually, the resistance will be defeated or they will retreat. Eventually, there will be a kind of peace in Iraq, certainly something better than what was in place before the war.

If we leave, there will be still be casualties. Iraqis who are not part of the resistance. The peace process. The dream of democracy. The militants and terrorists will win. Their ranks will grow as they become emboldened by the absence of coalition forces. And Iraq will be the new breeding ground, the gathering point for terrorists world-wide.

Chaos will return, old laws will be enforced, families will be torn apart and the people will once again suffer as they did under Saddam. The casualties of the inner wars of Iraq will be great. And all of the soldiers of the coalition forces who have died during this war will have died for nothing.

I am sorry for the families of the soldiers who died today. I am sorry for the families of the innocent civilians who died during the course of this war. But pulling out of Iraq now would be like spitting on their graves.

Wars are generally long and hard and filled with death and destruction. But they are fought for a reason. I still believe in the reasons I have been a supporter of this war to begin with; to root out terrorism and its supporters, to free the people of Iraq from a horrible dictatorship, to bring freedom to a place that has known nothing but despair and fear.

We started something we need to finish. People will die in the process. That is war. Every person who signs up for the armed forces knows that they run the risk of dying in combat. If we bring our troops home, all those dead soldiers will have died in vain. And all the people of Iraq who want freedom will be abandoned and left to the wolves.

So what is it you really want? Which side are you on? Do you want us to cut our losses and come home, leaving Iraq the way it right now? Or do you want us to stay and finish the job, knowing their will be casualties in the process?

Iraq can, in the future, have a country that has risen from the depths of terror and horror. Or Iraq can, in the future, revert back to that horrible state and become just another place that anti-American terrorists get together and make plans.

That's the choices I see here. What do you see?

TrackBack

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference the long, hard war:

» Awful, Terrible News -- 13 Soldiers Killed from An Unsealed Room
Ay, this helicopter getting shot down in Iraq is just terrible, terrible news. A shudder went through me when I just heard about it on the radio. The Israeli commentators are predicting a huge shift in American public opinion following... [Read More]

Comments

The big question, Michele, is whether a majority of Americans are losing hope that the job can truly be "finished."

If too many start to believe that it is a hopeless cause -- they are going to support cutting their losses and bringing the troops home.

One very important factor you left out of the equation is that the Jihadis and splodeydopes are after us all. They want to kill Americans. Many will fail and be themselves killed, some will succeed.
Pehaps it's insensitive of me but if there's got to be a bunch of kill or be killed going on, I'd just as soon it be over there than over here.

They should remind people that at this rate it will still take something like 15 years before for the amount of coalition deaths reached that of the 3,000 that were killed on September 11.

Apparently we know that Saddam is in the Tikrit area. I think it is time to blockade the city and diligently go door to door and look under every rock until we exterminite each and every Baathist bastard.

A large majority of the conflicts, worldwide,(more than 80%) involve Islamist groups. We should stop seeing these as individual conflicts (Saddam vs. US, Israel vs. Palestine, Christian Sudanese vs. Muslim Sudanese, etc.) and see the bigger picture. Where are these Islamist & Baathist paramilitary groups getting their support? We know that foreign fighters are working in Iraq, but the Bush administration is very vague about the details Ė probably because these paramilitary groups are supported by our Ďalliesí in the area.

Targeting the states that fund terror is a good idea, but if itís going to work, we have to disable every terror-supporting state, using every means possible (military action, sanctions, etc) Itís like getting rid of a hornetís nest Ė you canít just poke at it with a stick, youíve got to get rid of the whole nest Ė as quickly as possible.

We have no realistic choice but to stay and finish the job we started, even if domestic public opinion turns toward cutting and running. The alternative would be a calamity of monstrous proportions.

That said, I think there was a startling lack of planning for the aftermath of the (initial stages of) both the Iraq war and the Afghanistan war. That lack of effective planning may not be entirely the fault of the Bush administration - our general military culture accords vastly more importance to battlefield operations than to intelligence activities and civilian infrastructure planning.

Since we've taken on these campaigns, though, we must confront that military culture and quickly ramp up our capabilities in areas of "soft" military operations. If we don't, the term quagmire will be applied more and more often and our human losses will continue to rise.

Peter and Jay's comments should be some comfort to the families of the soldiers who died today.

Peter, for the terrorists in Iraq to come and kill us over here, they have to get an American visa, have the airfare to come here, have brains enough to learn a foreign language, get a job, and engage in activities that could result in their imprisonment/death if they're caught.

For the terrorists to kill soldiers in Iraq, they merely have to cross a porous border, find co-religionists who speak the same language to provide shelter/support for their activities, and they can melt into the general population after an attack is accomplished, especially if they use remote control devices to carry them out.

Even accepting as a given that these terrorists aren't the 'best and the brightest' in their own culture, which option would you pick?

Bush said "Bring it on." Are we now to be so shocked that they're now taking him at his word?

This is what must be done, by hook or crook:

1. Get as many troops from other countries to be involved in peacekeeping efforts, patrols, etc., which our military isn't trained to do, and shouldn't be expected to do.

2. Employ as many Iraqis as possible to help in the reconstruction of their country. The unemployment rate there is a friggin' 70 to 75%. The more people who are given work to do and money for doing it, the less people who have time and the inclination to work against the occupation.

3. Deal with the problems caused by post-war civilian casualties due to our soldiers screwing up by shooting at what they thought were menaces that turn out to be kids or civilians who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Unless we show Iraqis that we value their lives as much as we value our own, the opposition will have plenty of people who will help them out because little Ali or cousin Saheem was killed and nothing happened to the American soldier who pulled the trigger due to inadequate training and/or fear.

4. Get more translators on the ground, so that there can be better cooperation between out forces and the Iraqis. During WWII, there was extensive language training in Japanese for the post-war occupation period. Nothing like that has happened for Iraq. Even little handbooks and audio tapes to help the troops on the ground understand some basic Arabic words and culture would be useful, if it hasn't been done yet.

Peter and Jay's comments should be some comfort to the families of the soldiers who died today.

I didn't say it would asshole. However, it is a reminder to all the idiots who are shouting the "Bring em home" as though just ignoring these things will make us safer.

Dark Avenger said...

...for the terrorists in Iraq to come and kill us over here, they have to get an American visa, have the airfare to come here, have brains enough to learn a foreign language, get a job...

I'll bet the illegal Mexican washing dishes at the neighborhood fast food restaurant has a visa and airfare and speaks English so well you can hardly tell he wasn't born in Cleveland.

Hows about those illegal immigrants (mostly from eastern Europe) that the ICE rounded up while cleaning Wal-Marts? Their motivation to pay thousands of dollars to human smugglers and to circumvent our immigration laws was to come to America and clean toilets for $6.75 an hour. Man, where is the line for that job?

I'm sure you're correct though, any self respecting islamo-fascist wingnut who is delusional enough to think his God has told him to destroy America (or just kill all the Spawn of Satan, as we are affectionately known to them) is going to wait for a visa and wouldn't dream of sneaking across any of our porous borders. It would offend their just sense of fairness.

Where would a Saudi Prince get the money to pay intercontinental air fare? Money doesn't just flow up out of the ground you know.

Also, It's not like there are a lot of those folks already here, sending money to help out and offering any support that's needed.

Yup... I think you are correct...

Oh, and those two really tall buildings that are no longer in South Manhatten?

That couldn't have happened, so it didn't... somehow I can't seem to see them anymore though...

It's important to note that the overwhelming majority of folks on the non-fringe left (so I'm excluding greenies, Chomskyites, and Dennis Kucinich) think that we absolutely must stay and finish the job. The point of worrying about the rising casualties and costs is more to say: look, the current group in charge is doing a crappy, crappy job of doing this thing that must absolutely be done.

I'll bet the illegal Mexican washing dishes at the neighborhood fast food restaurant has a visa and airfare and speaks English so well you can hardly tell he wasn't born in Cleveland.

There are a lot of places now in America where native Spanish speakers can carry out all the functions of life without learning a word or English. I know, I live in one of them.

Are you saying that there as many places in America where that's true of native Arab speakers?

I thought that the current Administration was keeping an eye on those communities which could harbor people like the hijackers. Guess I was wrong.

Hows about those illegal immigrants (mostly from eastern Europe) that the ICE rounded up while cleaning Wal-Marts? Their motivation to pay thousands of dollars to human smugglers and to circumvent our immigration laws was to come to America and clean toilets for $6.75 an hour. Man, where is the line for that job?

They probably came here before 9/11, like the hijackers did, who, lest we forget, at least worked to appear as though they were here legally, which wasn't the case with the Eastern Europeans.

Making comparisons between people who come here for economic reasons and those who have destructive ideological motives doesn't make a lot of sense, unless you're suggesting that these Eastern Europeans should be flown to Gitmo for their flouting of American law.

AFAIK, there's no great demand for illegal Arab immigrant labor, as anyone involved would be creating a security risk, which isn't true of the Wal-Mart down the street where Ivan mops the floors at night, or the TGIF/Applebys/Marie Callendar's that has Miguel doing the dishes 6 days a week. It would be easier for a jihadi sympathizer to find and fund someone here in the States instead of trusting someone who came over here who they don't know and would be easier to spot and locate, as they wouldn't know how to blend in when they don't speak the language.

I'm sure you're correct though, any self respecting islamo-fascist wingnut who is delusional enough to think his God has told him to destroy America (or just kill all the Spawn of Satan, as we are affectionately known to them) is going to wait for a visa and wouldn't dream of sneaking across any of our porous borders. It would offend their just sense of fairness.

Where would a Saudi Prince get the money to pay intercontinental air fare? Money doesn't just flow up out of the ground you know.

To restate the obvious: Right now, any jihadi who wants to kill kufr Americans can go to Iraq
and get a bigger 'bang for their buck" then having to get an American visa(or a passible forgery, which costs money), and pay for passage here one way or another. Even without any documents, it costs money to get here, a lot more than for someone who grew up and lives in a border country, like, I don't know, maybe Mexico?

Any Saudi prince who would has a choice between sending Abdul to the Great Satan, where his chances of success are uncertain, and sending Yasir, Rasheed, Mohammed, and a few others to Iraq to kill kufr soldiers on the same amount of money is going to pick Abdul. Yeah, right.

Also, It's not like there are a lot of those folks already here, sending money to help out and offering any support that's needed.

So the goverment hasn't been able to stop this activity and make us any safer? Thanks for the reassurance.

Oh, and those two really tall buildings that are no longer in South Manhatten?

That couldn't have happened, so it didn't... somehow I can't seem to see them anymore though...

This reminds me how the old vaudeville shows would bring down the American flag and play the "Stars and Stripes" so that they could get applause.

Thanks also for the comments about my four points on what should be done now. I'll take them to heart and consider them today.

But, hey, the policy is still working, right?

but....but Bush had that big ol' banner behind him that said "mission accomplished"....but I agree. Pulling out of Iraq would be stupid and dangerous.

The point is this...whether you think we're safer today or not is immaterial. I tend to think that the Administration has done a pretty damn good job of preventing another major terrorist attack (and Dark Avenger apparently does too from his comments about how tough it must be for jihadis to get in here to do their mischief).

What is happening right now in Iraq is a test of wills. The side that blinks first will be at a distinct strategic disadvantage, and on the road to defeat. The US has no choice but to stay and fight the terrorists that have poured into Iraq. Better to fight them there, with people who are well-trained, highly motivated, and who volunteered to do this incredible, courageous, and heroic work. Their defeat in Iraq is the beginning of the end of Islamofascism.

No one here has minimized the pain that the soldiers' families must feel. But setting the bar so ridiculously high - in essense, defining victory as ONLY the absence of casualties, is as ludicrous as it is intellectually dishonest.

Victory comes at a price, and that price is normally the blood of American servicemen. Is it a price worth paying? Absolutely.

Some thirty-five years ago I was a 20 year old Sergeant up in Eye Corps during the Southeast Asian War Games. I'd been skating in a Begimental Headquarters, recovering from a bout with Malaria when The Tet Offensive started. The little people had made some pretty good gains and we had to throw them out of Hue City. As usual, we were short on grunts and long on REMFs so they put together some 'provisional platoons. I got wrapped up in one of those, we had a Second John from Regimental Supply for a PC, I was the Plt Sgt and we had a batch of cooks and bakers, clerks and jerks with a half dozen guys like me.
We went across the Perfume River on a Navy Landing Craft. Forty of us crossed the bow ramp, eleven of us walked out.
Dark Avenger, don't you dare tell me about the families of casualties. Don't tell me about planning for a war, either. See, there's a little known fact of life. The bad guys don't give a rat's ass about our plans. They've got plans, too and their Colonels and Sergeants are just as smart as ours.
We didn't start this war, we've been dicking around since I had hair with them doing the occasional attack, some small, some big. Well, we're finally fighting back, after the Beruit Barracks bombing, God knows how many airplanes, ships, embassies.
We're gonna lose a lot more troops. Off the top of my head I can think of a half dozen other countries we're gonna have to nutralise, hopefully one at a time.
It would have been nice if we had a nice peaceful kind of war, against France, maybe, but that's not the hand we were dealt.
We'll be damned lucky if we don't end up having to fight all one point six BILLION Muslims at once. We'll be damned lucky if we don't end up having to go nuclear. We'll be damned lucky if the bad guys don't slip Ebola or Botulism or one of those stray Russian nukes into the country or the hardliner faction doesn't take over Pakistan and use one of those nukes.
You folks like Dark Avenger better fish around in your pants and find some balls. There's a very significant percentage of those one point six billion Muslims that want us dead. All the whining about shoulda planned it better isn't going to change that. We are in a fight for our very survival as a nation. There's no guarentee that we're gonna win. Listening to the Nine Dwarves makes me doubt it. Reading Dark Avenger makes me doubt it.
What happened to the nation that produced the men that made that long walk to the beach at Tarawa when the boats got hung on the reef? What happened to the nation that got on those B17s and lost ten percent of their aircraft and men on EVERY MISSION for a whole damned year?
Some guys bought the farm. Damned shame. Suck it up and carry on. The bad guys aren't whining about poor planning. They're taking their losses and carrying on. Somebody is going to win this war. It damned sure better be us.

"What happened to the nation that produced the men that made that long walk to the beach at Tarawa when the boats got hung on the reef? What happened to the nation that got on those B17s and lost ten percent of their aircraft and men on EVERY MISSION for a whole damned year?" - Peter

It's still around, Peter. I saw it again after 9/11.

It's just that the caterwaulers are a bit louder and a bit more visible... but that's always the case. Don't let it get to you.

Peter, if you look at recent American history, you'll find that when battles and military actions are going well, the American public will support the goverment and accept American casualties as the cost of success.

Conversly, when there is the perception that little or no progress is being made, then the American public will feel that the cost is too high, and support for the goverment drops.

While you may feel that this current war is making America safer, many Americans don't. The lack of WMD in Iraq(so far, I'll grant you that), the non-existance of any evidence tying Islamicists to the Saddam regime pre-invasion even after the capture of major regime figures and all the govermental offices(and presumably, goverment documents as well) is beginning to sink into the American public.

That you witnessed many of our countrymen making the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam doesn't give you the right to demand that others die in this conflict to justify it to you or anyone else.

A great American said that this is how we win wars:

"Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."

They've got plans, too and their Colonels and Sergeants are just as smart as ours.

If we don't change and adapt to the tactics and stratagies they're using, as they have to our tactics and strategies, then we're about where the British were during the Revolutionary War, using our military with rules that the other side violates when it's to their advantage.

We'll be damned lucky if the bad guys don't slip Ebola or Botulism or one of those stray Russian nukes into the country or the hardliner faction doesn't take over Pakistan and use one of those nukes.

Ebola and botulism are impossible to weaponize with current technology. If you read this , you'll understand why this is so for botulism.

What happened to the nation that produced the men that made that long walk to the beach at Tarawa when the boats got hung on the reef? What happened to the nation that got on those B17s and lost ten percent of their aircraft and men on EVERY MISSION for a whole damned year?

Those men weren't mislead by their leaders. They knew that it was a battle for survival, and were willing to sacrifice themselves so that America could go on and win.

The American people were mislead and lied to by their leaders about Vietnam. That's why Nixon wanted to supress the Pentagon Papers.

That's why many are wary and skeptical about the claims that the war with Iraq was necessary.

We're gonna lose a lot more troops. Off the top of my head I can think of a half dozen other countries we're gonna have to nutralise, hopefully one at a time.

And if Muslims from countries outside the half a dozen countries we neutralize decide that their co-religionists should be avenged, what then?

Do we invade those countries as well? Isn't that the approach that OBL wanted, Western Civilization vs. 1.6 billion Muslims?

We'll be damned lucky if we don't end up having to fight all one point six BILLION Muslims at once. We'll be damned lucky if we don't end up having to go nuclear.

Going nuclear would be madness, pure and simple. It would open up the Pandora's box of nuclear warfare.

What if the Chinese decide that they need to be pre-emptive in their approach to us, using the same logic that 'compelled' us to go into Iraq?
They might conclude that a ruined North American continent is a small price to pay to maintain hegenomy in Asia, and keep their neighbors(like North Korea, Russia) from attempting to use their nuclear forces as
leverage, once America performs the previously unthinkable. "Kill the chicken to scare the monkey" is an old Chinese saying that still holds true today.

Where are this "many"? If you listen to groups like ANSWER, there are millions of people who share those feelings. Unfortunately, they can't be bothered to actually show up to these "peace" rallies. Yes, I've heard from some people who feel as Dark Avenger does. "Many", however, is not the impression I get from actual people that I meet.

The occupation of Iraq can't be viewed only one of two ways, i.e. patriotic citizens willing to tough it out vs. traitorous moonbats who don't care about 9/11. I work in a Navy office, and a number of the officers here - some just back from Iraq - are certainly not opposed to what we're doing but are increasingly distressed by what they percieve to be poor planning and rhetoric on the administration's part. They take each death personally, and they're wise enough NOT to say things like "Well, I'm sorry for the families of those soldiers, but..." There's a lesson there, I think.

Here's a bit on the perspective of those of us who oppose the current administration's policies and yet do think we should stay in Iraq, from Daid Rieff in yesterday's NYT magazine:

"Call it liberation or occupation, a dominating American presence in Iraq was probably destined to be more difficult, and more costly in money and in blood, than administration officials claimed in the months leading up to the war. But it need not have been this difficult ... The real lesson of the postwar mess is that while occupying and reconstructing Iraq was bound to be difficult, the fact that it may be turning into a quagmire is not a result of fate, but rather (as quagmires usually are) a result of poor planning and wishful thinking. Both have been in evidence to a troubling degree in American policy almost from the moment the decision was made to overthrow Saddam Hussein's bestial dictatorship."