Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Haditha

I wanted to post about the war today, but the post in my mind still needs a lot of refinement. I'm struggling to find the right words to express my frustration that after 3 years of commitment to help an Arab nation, not helped by its Arab neighbors, and unable to put its petty tribal differences aside, unable to see the forest for the trees, the situation remains just as muddled as ever. Now mind you I acknowledge that Saddam is gone and that has made a big improvement, but rational people do not go around blowing each other up. And the only really good news I want to hear out of Iraq is that Americans no longer have to be serving in that godforsaken piece of real estate. However as I think those thoughts I have to struggle to maintain my composure and keep my thoughts in my head and not my heart.

Because as has been pointed out in several articles, its too easy too confuse emotion with rational thought and analysis. And as Owen West said in his column:

"Today's debates are not high-spirited so much as mean-spirited. To allow polarizing forces to dominate the argument by insinuating false motives on one side or a lack of patriotism on the other is to obscure long-term security decisions that have to be made now."



He's right about that. Its way too easy to root for an initiative to fail, just because George Bush thought of it. He is a hate-able guy. He makes one furious when you hear him speak with his, " I know what I'm talking about and I'm tired of being patient with a fool who asks me questions I don't want to hear" tone of voice.

Problem is, the war and every thing involved with it is too important to allow one to give in to petty emotionalism. It's way too important than that...for the sake of the nation and for our soldiers.

Which brings me to Haditha. There are 2 sides to the debate. There is the atrocity side which has said that this is " Iraq's My Lai" and then there are those who say that perhaps we need to wait till all the facts are in. For this issue count me in the latter group...with a caveat.

The caveat is that I'm sympathetic with the emotionalism voiced by Fun with Hand Grenades:

After every bout of combat I've been in I realize that I've become increasingly angrier, and subsequently more violent. I have a friend I went to high school with who just returned from a year long tour in Iraq. One of the first pieces of advice he gave me upon my arrival in country was "Make sure Haji knows you're aggressive and pissed off. Demonstrate that often. If you're passive in any way they will eat you alive. It took being blown up numerous times and RPGs flying over my head before I became that way, but eventually I attained what I deem to be a necessary attitude for survival over here.


In other words, when it comes to Arabs, there is no such thing as too much retaliation. Which is a reprehensible sentiment. Totally disgusting. Not one I should have at all. Especially when it appears women and children were murdered.

Its especially hard for me, because for a complex series of reasons, I just don't like Arabs and believe that part of the reason it is taking so long to bring Iraq around is because it is populated by Arabs. Who screw up everything they touch. There was, after all, a reason they became the "White Man's burden". However that is my heart talking and it needs to be controlled by my head. Make no mistake though, I don't like them and I never will. Maybe when they get rid of the albatross that is Islam, I'll reconsider. However just because I am predjudiced against them, does not mean I should lose my objectivity.

So I say let the investigation press forward. Wait until it is complete. What my gut tells me is that the investigation will find is that the Marines involved felt threatened for reasons that they may have felt were quite valid at the time. Or maybe not. One of their members had been killed after all. However what makes us different from the other guys is that we will take the time to investigate it. And if they acted outside of ROE, the offenders will be punished. Does not bring back the dead, but this is war after all. War is a useless endeavor that brings tragedy and nothing good. I can't picture the Russian army investigating the massacre of some Chechnyan civilians, something I think happenend a few years ago. Gen Hagee says it will be dealt with and I believe him.

There is a another point though and I have nothing to prove this assertion with. If there is evidence found of a cover up, I suspect it came from somewhere else besides the Marines involved. And that those individuals involved with that, will not be punished as will the guys who were on the scene, the bureauracracy involved will cut the individuals loose. That part is wrong. However there is too much recent historical evidence to say that it won't happen. And if there was an attempt to cover it up, it was because we were afraid to let the truth win out and trust the people to make up their own minds. Which is also a product of the times we live in.

Which also points out what the US has to guard against, becoming like the French in Algeria:

At the same time, the French military ruthlessly applied the principle of collective responsibility to villages suspected of sheltering, supplying, or in any way cooperating with the guerrillas. Villages that could not be reached by mobile units were subject to aerial bombardment. The French also initiated a program of concentrating large segments of the rural population, including whole villages, in camps under military supervision to prevent them from aiding the rebels -- or, according to the official explanation, to protect them from FLN extortion. In the three years (1957-60) during which the regroupement program was followed, more than 2 million Algerians were removed from their villages, mostly in the mountainous areas, and resettled in the plains, where many found it impossible to reestablish their accustomed economic or social situations. Living conditions in the camps were poor.



Militarily, the French were winning, but politically they were losing in the long run. And so the present era gloomily dawned. Either way the longer the conflict went on the more violent it became.

And I'm troubled with my self because deep in my heart, I think if I had been a Frenchman at the time, I would have supported the French military program. Which is scary for a whole host of reasons. Then again, Algeria was, after all, a part of France. Despite what the Muslims thought.

This is not 1969. Let the system work and justice will be served..........unless the politicians get involved. Like 1959?

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