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Or: "How the War was Won" (Part 2)
The previous installment in my on-going rambles from Iraq is here (But you can press on - this piece works as a stand-alone, too...)
1. In the Gardens of Stone
So I'm walking to the gym. Under my feet: four inches of gravel pave the way. When the rains come that will be better than mucking through the sort of muddy paste that the sands of Iraq become when mixed with the slightest bit of water, but in the dry season (and it hasn't really rained here since May) it's just another feature. You want to experience some aspect of life in the camps in Iraq? Find an area with four inches of gravel on the ground (shallower gravel doesn't count - you don't get the full effect) and walk around in it for a half hour or so. Repeat several time a day, sometimes carrying something heavy. Do it every day for a year, then do it for three more months...
But I digress. So I'm walking to the gym. Under my feet: four inches of gravel pave the way. Concrete t-wall sections form unbroken fortress walls on either side of my path. They are a relatively new feature; at least, we didn't have them in any significant number on my last trip here. Then we lived in tents, with sandbags stacked knee-high around them. Hypothetically these would afford us some protection from shrapnel should the odd mortar or rocket detonate nearby - or close enough to send the shrapnel flying but far enough to spare us death in the initial blast. Back then politicians in the States were screaming hysterically about armor and how we didn't have enough, but their utter ignorance of conditions in the real Iraq meant they missed an even greater vulnerability. Perhaps they were blinded by the flash of cameras. Or perhaps the fact that large concrete walls can't easily be manufactured in the home district by voters working hard for donors and then shipped overseas led them to establish other priorities. Anyhow, too late now. Even though things weren't perfectly exactly right upon our arrival in Iraq we rather quietly made those particular improvements without congressional hystrionics to spur us on. The walls are up and our camps are thoroughly sub-divided into blast-containment areas and we can all sleep a little more soundly at night - or day, or whenever we get the chance to sleep. And home front ignorance of the real Iraq has certainly caused more significant problems then that one...
But I digress. So I'm walking to the gym. Under my feet: four inches of gravel pave the way. Concrete t-wall sections form unbroken fortress walls on either side of my path. It's early in the morning, so the shadow of the wall on my left is shading that half of the road.
But there's a bit of pep in my step, of pride in me stride...
2. We've won the war.
Over the past three months, there has been a sharp and sustained drop in all forms of violence. The figures for dead and wounded, military and civilian, have also greatly improved.Along with the Associated Press:
All across Baghdad, which has seen the worst of the violence, streets are springing back to life. Shops and restaurants which closed down are back in business.
People walk in crowded streets in the evening, when just a few months ago they would have been huddled behind locked doors in their homes.
Everybody agrees that things are much better.
BAGHDAD--Twilight brings traffic jams to the main shopping district of this once-affluent corner of Baghdad and hundreds of people stroll past well-stocked vegetable stands, bakeries and butcher shops.That's the real Iraq.
To many in Amariyah, it seems little short of a miracle.
Just six months ago, this mostly Sunni neighborhood was one of the centers of al-Qaida in Iraq operations. The district in western Baghdad was hit by more than a dozen bombings and shootings some days. Few people dared to venture onto the streets.
On Tuesday, women shopped and men drank tea in sidewalk cafes. Occasionally, U.S. soldiers walking the streets were greeted with salaams and smiles.
What is happening here reflects similar trends across Baghdad and parts of Iraq, where civilian and U.S. military casualties have dropped sharply in the past two months. But the speed of the turnaround in places such as Amariyah has taken almost everyone - including U.S. military forces in the area - by surprise.
"The progress that we made is almost unbelievable," said Capt. Brendan Gallagher, 29, of Columbia, Md., who serves with the Army's 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.
There's also a Make-believe Iraq, and the BBC and the AP have spent time there. We're going to look at make-belive Iraq and the real Iraq. You see, we won the war in the real Iraq, and few people in America are familiar with anything other than its make-believe version.
And that's the Iraq that should have been abandoned long ago.
3. Veterans Day
Veterans Day, 2004, Vermont - From the Mudville Archive collection:
Kyle Gilbert, her only child, was 20 when he died. He was a top-ranked karate black-belt and a car aficionado who proudly drove a red 1969 Chevelle. He enlisted in the Army shortly after graduation from Brattleboro Union High School, following the example of his father, Robert, who served 20 years earlier.Later, these same Vermonters would pretend they had been sacrificing for the war:
Gilbert's unit, the 82d Airborne Division, was among the first to enter Iraq in March 2003. He died five months later, on Aug. 6. Even before official word came, his mother had pieced together the news from reading a brief item in USA Today about deaths in his unit.
"I turned to a co-worker and said, 'I don't feel so good about this,' and just then the phone rang," Regina Gilbert said.
The idea of naming the newly rebuilt bridge spanning Whetstone Brook for him surfaced in a column in the Brattleboro Reformer written by Judith Gorman, an opponent of the war. "The president has been way too busy to do more than pay lip service to the casualties of his war or to personally honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice on his behalf," Gorman wrote. "Let's do it for him."
Momentum built quickly, and the town assumed oversight of fund-raising and planning the $10,000 memorial.
Yet the process was difficult from the start. Opponents criticized etchings of an eagle and two American flags on the granite memorial as jingoistic.
They also objected to the inclusion of the phrase, "Freedom is not free." That phrase was eliminated and replaced with Kyle Gilbert's last words to his mother, uttered in a truncated satellite telephone conversation on July 18: "Just don't forget me."
But most objectionable to some residents was the inclusion of the name Operation Iraqi Freedom.
As Brattleboro prepares to dedicate a downtown bridge to Gilbert on this Veterans Day, the engraving of an accompanying stone memorial has exposed a philosophical and cultural rift in this town of 12,000 in southeastern Vermont, home to both hippie vestiges of 1960s communes and more conservative natives in the rural outlying areas. Veterans groups are dismayed by town officials' decision to jettison a reference to Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Pentagon's name for the invasion, after a group of residents complained that the name endorsed the war in Iraq and President Bush's policies.
''It's not endorsing Bush; that was the mission," Frank Wetherby, 57, a Vietnam veteran who lives in nearby Vernon, said as he shopped for hunting gear at Sam's Outdoor Outfitters. ''Where do they get off? That's the sort of thing that turns this into 'them against us.' Support your troops; I don't care what your philosophy is."
For Gilbert's parents, the dispute over the memorial has been a source of consternation.
''I am the mother, and I think with my heart," Regina Gilbert, 41, a receptionist at a chiropractor's office in nearby Guilford, said in an interview this week. ''I just wanted my son's name on the bridge."
In a debate that echoed in at least 50 other Vermont towns holding their annual meetings this week, Dummerston passed a resolution asking the State Legislature to investigate the impact of National Guard deployments on Vermont's readiness for a natural disaster or other emergency. The measure, which also asks Congress and the president to "take steps to withdraw American troops from Iraq," was part of a new effort by antiwar activists to take the debate over the war down to a distinctly local level.Fortunately, a Vermont Guardsman with some knowledge of the real Iraq had a counter-message:
"This shows that the antiwar movement is different for this war than it probably has been for every war before," Mr. Lems said. "What these people are demanding is accountability, and they have this incredibly strong message - their sons, their daughters and their parents in some cases have had their lives torn apart by the war. It's probably the most powerful message we have right now."
I am a Vermont Guardsman and have been for the past 17 years. I can only give my perspective. What I will say is that the people who supported the demand to withdraw from Iraq in these towns don't reflect the opinions of the troops who we have deployed and some who have returned. Our soldiers are proud of their service and did their duty. They are proud of what they have accomplished, both in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Last June I attended the funerals of three Guardsmen who were killed in action. Without exception all three families were proud of their loved one's service and sacrifice. All three families had met one another through the family support net program and attended the funeral services for their new found friends' loved ones, in spite of their own grief and pain. I learned to love and hate Toby Keith's "American Soldier" from those funerals. Each family had that song played during the services. That says an awful lot. That is also reflective of how most of the troops and their families feel. When the unit returned from theater last week, I know two, if not three, of the families of our fallen soldiers were there to greet their loved ones' comrades as the got off the jets at the return ceremony at the VTANG airbase. That was at 0500 and in the front end of a snow storm that day. That says an awful lot too.That brought forth comments like this one:
The majority of our soldiers here are from the rural areas of the state and these area are predominantly conservative types who like their guns, hunting, fishing, snowmobiles and four wheelers. I know this for a fact as I had commanded one of the armor battalions in the most rural area of the state. The people behind the so called peace resolutions are pretty much from what I call the bohemian proletariat. They are trust fund babies. They have come from MA, NYC, NJ etc. They brought their liberal politics with them. This influx of liberals have moved up into Vermont since the late '60s. Since many do not have to work for a living they need things to do, like get active in the local politics, and have taken it over. I realize that I will get some flak but in the town where I live, about half the population of 2500 do not have to work. The very liberal speaker of the Vermont House is also from my town (go figure). These people are not the true Vermonters.
If people look back in history, Vermont, Maine and NH were the only three states who voted against FDR in the presidential election of 1940, and that was after 8 years of the New Deal! If you dig back farther, the Vermont Brigade had a reputation in the Army of the Potomac similar to the Jackson's Stonewall Brigade. These were the ancestors of our troops, no exaggeration.
So if you take a swipe at Vermont-please do not slight the troops. We are as disgusted with the stupidity and ignorance and anyone with good sense.
Last point, one of our young officers who did a tour in Afghanistan stood up in the town meeting on Tuesday and told the crowd in attendance what he and our troops did there and the good that was being accomplished. He even spoke to what was going on in Iraq and the good being done there and how our guys feel about it. He was given a standing ovation and the town voted down the resolution.
I'm currently serving in Afghanistan and have run into a bunch of the "Green Mountain Boys" serving here with TF Pheonix. I'm glad to see them for many of them I've got a bond with from my college days at the "Military School of the Great White North", more commonly know as Norwich University. Be assured that the men and women of the Vermont Guard are living up to their reputation and taking the fight to the enemy. Not to mention they arrived just in time! It's going to be a bitter winter here in Afghanistan and they'll feel right at home (I kinda feel bad for the Florida Guard troops that are here).Which brings us to Veteran's Day, 2007:
I remember the liberalism of Vermont and how they HATED having a private military college right in the middle of the state. But I did run into many of the native Vermonters who were true woodsmen of the north.
NORTHFIELD — An eight-member delegation of high-ranking Iraqi officials began to chuckle as they toured the Norwich University museum Thursday.A good hard jolt of reality can do that. Whether that awakening will ever occur in the United States is yet to be determined, the story included no comments from Vermont's al Qaeda support platoons - perhaps they aren't quite ready to abandon make believe Iraq.
The source of their amusement, a giant Baghdad road sign bearing the oversized image of former president Saddam Hussein, had been procured by a contingent of Vermont National Guardsmen during a tour of duty in Iraq.
"It says 'Saddam Hussein: Great leader, great people,'" one of the Iraqis said of the Arabic caption. "He is not a great leader, but they are great people."
In an unlikely Vermont appearance by the Sunni leaders of Al Anbar province Thursday, the moment reflected their unflagging support for the United States' war in Iraq.
"Thank you for all your assistance to your friends in Iraq," Rafe Al-Essawi, former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, told Vermont soldiers through an interpreter.
The Iraqi delegation, fresh off meetings in Washington with President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, declared they had achieved victory over al-Qaida insurgents during a visit with Vermont veterans at Norwich University Thursday afternoon. Though insurgent violence is largely quelled, they said, continued U.S. support is necessary to rebuild infrastructure and the economy in Al Anbar province.
"We have defeated al-Qaida in this very large province of Al Anbar as a result of our cooperation with your forces," Mamoon S. Rashid Al-Alwani, governor of Al Anbar, said through an interpreter. "This victory came as a result of our cooperation with your forces and our bloods have spilled together."
The Iraqis, accompanied by representatives from the U.S. State Department, are on the tail end of a two-week swing through the United States aimed at familiarizing the men with American citizens and government. Their itinerary had until now consisted of meetings with federal administration officials in major metropolitan hubs. But a friendship forged between the Iraqis and leaders of Vermont's Task Force Saber prompted the visitors to include Vermont in their trip.
In a nondescript room inside the Guard's brick armory at Norwich, the delegation spoke to about two dozen Vermont veterans wearing their tan desert fatigues.
"For people who served in Al Anbar province, if they returned today they would see a dramatic shift in the security situation," Al-Essawi told the veterans. "The province has changed completely. Security is no longer a challenge. Rebuilding and development is now the real challenge."
Anbar has in recent months been held out as a beacon of progress in the war-torn nation. The Western province had been considered a hotbed of the al-Qaida forces in Iraq. But an increase in the number of U.S. troops, and a grass-roots uprising by Iraqi clans against the insurgents, have helped restore stability.
"The secret behind our success in Anbar province was the shift in mentality in how people now reject members of al-Qaida," Al-Essawi said. "In the past, people of Anbar provided logistical support for these fighters thinking they were fighting in the name of God. When they realized they were no more than criminals and killers, their mentality shifted."
Meanwhile, Vermont's veterans of the real Iraq spoke out again:
Vermont veterans said Al-Essawi's assessment served to vindicate their long deployments during tougher times.Vermont is probably much like the rest of America - a privileged class sheltered and protected by a warrior class it will never comprehend. Their fear that those warriors won't be there to shovel their roads and driveways for them if the snows fall too heavy is valid, they will have to find another way. But feigning concern for the lives and livelihood of their proletariat neighbors is neither helpful or convincing.
"It's a huge improvement compared to where we were four years ago," said Cindy Freudenthal, a 22-year-old Norwich nursing student.
Freudenthal, of Littleton, N.H., is a sergeant in the U.S. Army. She served a year-long tour in Iraq protecting fuel trucks for most of 2006 and said it was heartening to hear from Iraqis declaring success.
"We're improving, probably not as fast as everyone would like, but even a baby crawl is better than nothing," she said. "We can't fix this overnight. But we're making progress."
Spc. Jason Keeter, a 23-year-old Norwich senior, served with Task Force Green Mountain in Iraq. He said he was happily surprised by the upbeat assessment.
"I didn't think it would come this far so soon," the Massachusetts resident said. "It's definitely a good thing. We need to help them out now as much as possible."
As security conditions in Al Anbar improve, attention has shifted to the dire economic straits in the region. Redevelopment has been stunted by damaged infrastructure, and the Iraqis on Thursday said they need the financial aid and economic opportunity in addition to military support.
James Soriano leads the U.S. State Department's Provincial Reconstruction Team in Al Anbar.
"We are in a very gray transition area from war to post-conflict," Soriano said during an interview Thursday. "The conversation now isn't about security as much as it is about the economy, education and other aspects of life."
Soriano said the ebb in violence in Al Anbar has altered dramatically the prospects of its residents.
"This could not have been done nine months ago because of the insurgency," Soriano said. "The demands of physical security were so great they overwhelmed all other aspects of engagement with Anbar province."
The Iraqi delegation told veterans they would look to the U.S. as a model in crafting their own unity government.
"You managed to unite all 50 states in one country despite your diversity and different religions," Al-Alwani said. "You managed to build this country despite those differences."
When the reconstruction is complete, the Iraqis said, Vermont veterans will be their guests of honor.
Said Al-Essawi, "We will welcome you and your families to come and visit Iraq."
As for that privileged class: we've won the war. We've won the war without them. We've won the war in spite of their best efforts to bring the troops home now. We've won, and it's time to abandon Iraq - at least, it's time for them to abandon make believe Iraq.
They should have abandoned make-believe Iraq long ago.
4. Speaking of schools...
NORTHFIELD — An eight-member delegation of high-ranking Iraqi officials began to chuckle as they toured the Norwich University museum Thursday.Back to the BBC:
But there is no doubt that it has lost out massively in Baghdad.Also from Britain, The Observer:
One resident of the mainly-Sunni area of Dora, in the south of the capital, summed it up.
"The Islamic State in Iraq (the umbrella name adopted by al-Qaeda groups) used to control most of the area like a phantom presence. I know Shia shopkeepers who were shot dead in their shops."
"They put up notices warning people to wear strict Islamic dress. Everybody was frightened. When we called the police to report bodies on the street, they said it was a no-go area and they couldn't come."
"Now, the Islamic State elements have disappeared. Shops have reopened. My daughter can walk to school without wearing a headscarf. Some Shias who fled have come back. And most important of all, we haven't heard of anybody being killed since July."
Packed classes hint at peace in battered IraqThey urge everyone to temper their enthusiasm, of course: "And yet, touring one of Baghdad's most violent districts last week, The Observer found ordinary Iraqis making a stand against the insurgents and death squads. Exhausted by grief, they appeared to have made the pragmatic choice that, however unwelcome the American occupiers might be, they still offer the least worst option when compared with suicide bombers and nihilism."
It begins and ends with the children. They stayed away from the al- Gazaly school in southern Baghdad when the streets were murderous - their parents moved out and their PE teacher was shot dead during the mundane act of having a haircut. Now, one by one, cautiously, determinedly, noisily, they are returning to their desks, bringing the school back from the brink. Their hopeful faces reflect, perhaps, the new and fragile optimism dawning in Iraq.
It began as a whisper, but every day the voices grow louder, daring to believe that a country which threatened to tear itself apart is coming together. American deaths are down; Iraqi deaths are reported to be down. Refugees are returning home; shops and businesses are reopening. US generals, whose army was said to be 'broken', now give upbeat assessments that they are nearing a 'tipping point' - not merely the end of the beginning, but the beginning of the end.
But that's perhaps a last feeble grasp at clinging to some faint shred of make-believe Iraq, as later paragraphs in the same story make clear:
One of the impressive men and women trying to bury the nightmare of the past four years is Khaled Nuge, head of the al-Gazaly school and its adjacent Shams al-Mahaba school, down a street of rubble, rubbish and fetid green pools in once affluent al-Hadar. Three months ago he was facing the closure of both schools, which have a combined capacity of 2,000 pupils but where attendance had fallen to 250 as pupils were kept at home or families fled. Today that number is 900 and climbing, partly thanks to Nuge's determination to keep the doors open.Of course, there isn't an election year looming in England.
'The children would be sitting in the classroom, opening their books, then they would hear a shooting and they'd cry and want to leave,' Nuge said, sitting in a sparsely furnished office. 'Some families were displaced from the neighbourhood because they were afraid of shootings. Some pupils' fathers were killed and I tried to comfort them, giving them presents during the holidays. Teachers have also suffered intimidation and been threatened with violence.' Last year a PE teacher was having a haircut when a gunman murdered him. His offence: being Christian in a predominantly Sunni area. Another teacher fled after her husband and sons were killed and her car stolen; her house has since been looted. Other teachers have been forced out. 'The terrorists want to push education aside and go backwards, but now it's much better and the number of pupils is increasing,' Nuge said.
Last Thursday US soldiers, wearing body armour and carrying M4 carbine assault rifles, stopped at the school and threw sweets to eager, smiling 11-year-olds. Nuge pleaded with the troops to protect them. 'We would like a constant presence. The Americans stay a couple of hours, then move on. We still have terrorists walking the streets, although they're not threatening anybody now. I would like the Americans to be here a long time and set up permanent points.'
5. Back in the Garden of Stones
But I digress. So I'm walking to the gym. Under my feet: four inches of gravel pave the way. Concrete t-wall sections form unbroken fortress walls on either side of my path. It's early in the morning, so the shadow of the wall on my left is shading that half of the road. A breeze is blowing, and in the shade in the moments just after dawn that breeze hits me in my shorts and t-shirt and chills me just enough that I take a few steps sideways and into the sun.
And then it hit me - I'd been walking in the shade because that's what I - and everyone else here - had done throughut the 120 degree summer and on into the merely 90 degree days of early fall. And while the change has been gradual, it was only today that I noticed it, as I broke a time-worn habit and passed from the too-cool shadows into the glowing warmth of the morning desert sun.
And I'm whistling a tune...
More to follow.
Greyhawk, another great piece. As you say-"Back then politicians in the States were screaming hysterically about armor and how we didn't have enough, but their utter ignorance of conditions in the real Iraq meant they missed an even greater vulnerability."
Now I certainly agree that they are ignorant of the real Iraq but this is not what was and is motivating them to protest. It is their agenda to turn the people against the war, so that they can stay in or return to power. It is not about doing what is right for the country or for that matter the world. Instead , it is all about them and if a few thousand military personel die in the process, well too bad. Once again, in the words of John Stuart Mill-"The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
Your blog is top quality and is helping win more than you know.
God Bless America!
Thank you for your personal contribution, sir, in theater as well as in cyber space. Maintaining sufficient public support on the home front to get to this point has been a lot tougher than it should have been, and without the efforts of you and the Mrs. and the many who seek to emulate you the quitters would have gotten their way.Posted by Cannoneer No. 4 at November 14, 2007 12:03 PM
So I'm walking to the gym. Under my feet: four inches of gravel pave the way. Concrete t-wall sections form unbroken fortress walls on either side of my path. It's early in the morning, so the shadow of the wall on my left is shading that half of the road. A breeze is blowing, and in the shade in the moments just after dawn that breeze hits me in my shorts and t-shirt and chills me just enough that I take a few steps sideways and into the sun.
Nothing profound to add, sir. Nothing at all.
Thank you again for your service. You and all your fellows. I also believe that the War is WON, but this type of conflict is harder to wrap up than most as many of the 'enemy' have already declared themselves dead and won't just give it up. So it will drag on for longer than it should. Hopefully at least its dragging on will allow the usual decayed suspects on the home front to well and truly use all that provided rope to good effect.Posted by dougf at November 14, 2007 12:40 PM
Another classic, Greyhawk. My heart lept when you called the war won those weeks ago. I am still too careful to go quite that far, but I grow increasingly convinced that you are right.
And I remember walking on gravel more clearly than anything else.
It is an attempt at firmness, controlling the uncontrollable. Every step shifts, there is more effort in every step, it wearies you the longer you walk on it.
But it does allow forward motion, however aggravating and tiring. It beats the alternative of Iraqi clay that can become muck at those rare times of rain. I suppose.
We who walked upon it will remember it always. I was happier to walk on honest asphault than any other physical experience, back home.
A fitting symbol of our service, our sacrifice, and yes, our victory in Iraq.
May God allow you and I and all our brothers and sisters in uniform to gather someday back home, and lift one (or two or three) to the gravel and the difficult tred.
Stay safe, Godspeed.Posted by dadmanly at November 14, 2007 01:21 PM
Right on. Today was also the first day I intentionally stepped out into the sun.
It was downright chilly this morning, actually.Posted by Grim at November 14, 2007 02:40 PM
This is very gratifying. Today, Harry Reid tables another bill for only enough funds through February, at which time funding for the troops will be revisited. Who's fighting on the cheap now?
Here and there, we've tried to counter arguments dismissing this progress, and claims that the U.S. forces and the surge had nothing to do with this upturn. Even in Anbar, they're reluctant to credit the Marines, and their nuanced but lethal approach to stopping the violence.
That approach is best evidenced by Mattis' early remark to Sunni tribal leaders: "I come in peace. I bring no artillery. But I'm pleading with you, with tears in my eyes, if you f*ck with me, I'll kill you all."
Counterinsurgency in three sentences.
(Mil Motivator)Posted by jordan at November 14, 2007 02:47 PM
someone needs to tell the Dems to take a few steps sideways and into the sun...
Thanks for another spectacular contribution to the understanding of the real Iraq
Stay safe, G.Posted by Some Soldier's Mom at November 14, 2007 02:54 PM
Outstanding....as usual, Sir....Thanks again to you and Mrs G.Posted by Maggie45 at November 14, 2007 03:09 PM
Mom called this morning and asked if I had read the "gazette" yet this morning. After reading your most recent posting, I thought about, just as I always do when reading your "ramblings," how much your writing is exactly like your conversations. In fact, I realized that when I read your thoughts, your voice is speaking them in my head. Then I thought about what gift it is to be able to hear your "voice" (even if it is just in my head) even though you are a world away. And I realized even more how much this means to Mom. So now I'm sitting here crying as I write this, because I realized that I don't tell you often enough how proud I am of you and everything you do and stand for, and how much we miss you and wish you could be here for Thanksgiving with the rest of the Greyhawk clan. I guess rambling runs in the family. Love, bigsis. P.S. Mom said she was baking cookies...Posted by bigsisevengreyerhawk at November 14, 2007 03:16 PM
If the Sunni Arabs don't play ball,... American troops will still be needed to cope with the potential slaughter of Sunni Arabs.
I read this in the Strategy Page article posted somewhere above about the uncertainty prevailing as regards future Sunni intentions.
I must say that I profoundly disagree with this statement. I am all for a 'peaceful Iraq and a 'united' Iraq and an 'inclusive' Iraq. What I am NOT for is more Sunni STUPIDITY. My position in a few words is --- If the Sunnis screw up this last best chance because they are literally too stupid to live, I think the US should stand aside and let them lay in the bed they have tried so hard to make.
And I don't think I am alone in this thinking. There will be NO support for protecting the Sunnis if they refuse to recognise, internalise, and 'accept' the reality of the New Iraq.
They are not in charge now and they will not be in charge tomorrow. Never again will they be able to keep their boots on the throats of all the 'others'. If they can't settle for 'equality' they will get calamity.
Under no circumstances should even 1 American life, or 1 American dollar be spent trying to save them from themselves if they refuse to 'grow up'.
The real conclusion of this article would have been this message to the chauvinistic Sunni 'nationalists'. Get with the program. Get OUT. Or get DEAD.
Period.Posted by dougf at November 14, 2007 03:21 PM
Keep digressing, it seems to be working.
Uncle JPosted by Uncle Jimbo at November 14, 2007 04:26 PM
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 11/140/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...Posted by David M at November 14, 2007 04:40 PM
One thing I kept wondering...
Isn't that gravel going to be dangerous if a mortar ever does hit it? Sand will absorb (lets hope) the blast, but isn't all that rock going to explode outward like buckshot? Shades of the WWII Italian compaign...Posted by Matt K at November 14, 2007 06:26 PM
Matt K, in my experience that could happen but usually didn't. The gravel gets pushed around, thinner in places than others. I have heard of secondary injuries from gravel, but not many.
Most of the time, you'd be hard pressed to find evidence of mortar or rocket impacts. Most of the time, they left small holes but mostly scorch marks on asphalt, and only dark spots on Iraqi clay.
Our DFAC parking lot got hit, and you'd hardly know where the rounds actually struck. Same with our motor pool. The ground is way too hard packed and the explosion must orient more down than up and around. May be the nature of the mortar rounds and rockets in use in Iraq.
It may also be a function of guerilla type use of same versus heavy combat. Rarely do Iraqi "insurgents" or AQ mortar or rocket teams ever fire off anything but a few rounds or very short barrage. It would certainly be different in a more traditional combat situation, with lots more rounds and more repeat strikes.
Sustained mortar or rocket fire = grease stain in place of mortar/rocket team.
Just my experience.Posted by dadmanly at November 14, 2007 07:00 PM
Greyhawk, Thanks for your kind words for the Vermont troops once again. Lex pointed me over here today. These guys and their families are the truly the Salt of the Earth.
I don't know who the heck you are, but I know I love you, man. Great writing, great ideas and point of view. If we had more people with an outlook like yours in DC, I marvel at what our government could enable this great country to accomplish as a force for good in the world and at home.
Dadmanly is right about the mortars esp. The Iranian 107mms we've been getting lately do throw rock around a bit. You don't hear about many injuries from them, though. There are reasons for that, which I won't go into for OPSEC purposes; but it is something the military has considered and addressed in certain ways.Posted by Grim at November 15, 2007 03:29 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(17) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)