Archives for August 2004


Behind Enemy Lines

A pro-war Marine walks with the anti-war establishment.

I’m a Red Sox fan who lives in New York. Marines are taught to focus on the enemy perspective before any clash, so each year I don my Sox cap and ride the subway to some Yankee games to try to grasp how the other side thinks. My toes involuntarily curl when I hear women say, “Jeter is so hot.”

Yesterday, on the same premise, I hopped on the subway and headed to the antiwar/anti-Bush rally. Like most Americans, I’m somewhere in the middle of two parties, though I heel starboard in rough seas. I support the war in Iraq and hoped to better understand the counterargument by walking among the electrified.

The platform at 72nd Street was not crowded. Nevertheless, I was shoved into the downtown train by a woman wearing a button that read: “If you’re not OUTRAGED you aren’t paying attention.” She wasn’t the exception; negativity fed the entire train as it headed down to the march. I was not offered any Kerry stickers when we arrived at 14th Street, but I had brought a supply of anti-Bush ammunition for cover. I chose a “Bush Lies, Who Dies!” sticker and stepped outside.

Three Strikes in Iraq

By Bing and Owen West

Stop Using Soldiers as Pawns in Iraq.

Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently said offensives against rebel cities like Fallujah would be conducted jointly with Iraqi forces expected to be ready for combat by December. That raises the question of who will be in charge of those battles – Iraqis or Americans. After Vietnam, American commanders vowed that our soldiers would never again be buffeted by erratic political currents. In the recent battles in Iraq, however, politics altered the missions of our troops after they had suffered substantial casualties fighting for initial objectives. While political decisions should control military actions, policymakers must be careful lest our soldiers conclude that political tactics are flicking them on and off like a light switch.

In early April, after the bodies of four slain American contractors were mutilated in Fallujah, the White House ordered the Marines to seize that rebellious city. The US military spokesman in Baghdad said the response would be “overwhelming.” After Vietnam, the US military had jettisoned the doctrine of ‘proportional,’ attrition-based warfare in favor of applying swift, overwhelming force. A week after ordering the Marines into Fallujah, President Bush reiterated his belief in employing decisive force.

“Over the last several decades, we’ve seen that any concession or retreat on our part will only embolden this enemy and invite more bloodshed,” the President said. “There is no alternative to resolute actions.”

Time for Iraqification

Wall Street Journal

Iraqis, not Americans, must win this war.

Despite errors, the U.S. will muscle Iraq onto the path of democratic pluralism by, as the President said, “staying the course”. Such tenacity of purpose, however, is a manifestation of will, not a plan of action. Iraq is a multiyear, if not multi-decade, project. What makes Iraq different from previous post-war reconstructions is the continuation of American casualties, caused by a savage insurgency.

Here in the Sunni city of Ramadi, a provincial capital 60 miles west of Baghdad, last week a Marine battalion fought yet another episodic battle, killing a few dozen insurgents at a cost of four wounded. In five months, the 2d Battalion of the 4th Marine Regiment has engaged in over 200 firefights, absorbing close to 300 casualties while killing over a thousand guerrillas. The battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Paul Kennedy, is the most battle-seasoned American unit in Iraq.

But in the danger and the style of the combat, it is not atypical. The battalion fights alone, as do most American units. Iraqi government forces are absent from the field of their battle. And that is the heart of the problem. Bedazed by thirty years of murderous tyranny, Iraqis practice the politics of victimhood, complaining about others and bewailing their fate, while doing little to change it. They are not fighting for themselves.