LeRoy Collins Commentary 10

Commentary #10
17 November 2006

Obsession with Jihad…the Cost

The attached essay by Ralph Peters is a point of view which may have fueled some of the backlash we saw in our most recent national elections last week. The U.S. electorate said it wanted change. What remains to be seen is what changes our people want to achieve. Here is where the Iraq Study Group, chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, is likely to become the oracle on what can/should change...at least with respect to Issue #1, U.S. involvement with the war in Iraq.

Somewhat related: In just the past 24 hours, Jane and I again visited with some of the wounded troops and their families being rehabilitated at the James Haley Veterans Hospital north of Tampa. This is where we take the U.S. troops with severe neurological disorders involving the brain, back and central nervous system (most show severe scarring on the head from trauma and surgery). This time we chose to sit with two mothers whose sons were wounded by explosions which killed their buddies in the same military vehicles on patrol (two separate incidents with similar tragic results).

One was Mrs. B___ of New Hampshire (whom we met last month), whose 23 yr-old Marine son could not leave his hospital room last month, because he was still in intensive care 8 months following the debilitating explosion. But here he was with us in a wheel chair accompanied by his proud mother, who quit her job to be with him full time after the wife said she could not do it (she has three children back home to nurture).

Mrs. B___ has been with her son the whole time, and she is happy with his "progress" yet he can do NOTHING for himself but blink his eyes. His tracheotomy was removed in the past 24 hours, so he evidences some discomfort adjusting with mild coughing. To me he evidenced no emotion nor recognition of ANYTHING, but his Mom says he can follow her with his eyes, and twitch imperceptibly to her special touch.

The entire left side of his head is deeply concave with no skull to protect it; 40% of his brain is missing. He sits there with a blank stare...no emotion, just occasionally blinking his eyes. But to Mrs. B___ he is ALIVE, breathing on his own, and making progress after these eight long tortuous months of "healing."

Mrs. B___ has been fighting a battle of her own; her daughter-in-law has been getting her son's military pay, but the daughter-in-law is not there to make the decisions of the next-of-kin, so Mrs. B___ had to take the daughter to court in order to be designated her son's legal guardian, and make the tactical decisions for his multiple surgeries and other rehabilitative measures. Since Mrs. B___ is not receiving any compensation, she is being sustained locally by Operation Helping Hand, an ad hoc effort nationwide established to provide this vital private assistance to the families of wounded veterans.

Fortunately, the Tampa Bay area has many military Veterans residing close by who identify with Mrs. B___'s plight. Jane and I came away feeling that God was there with us listening to every word.

The hospital Chaplain told us his son, an E-9 in the Delta Force in Iraq, got a recent scare; his Delta Team was on an early morning mission near Baghdad. They kicked down a door, and as the first man through the opening, his son was greeted by a burst of AK47 fire from the shadows...right in his chest. Six rounds to the heart were blocked by the flak jacket; one round was slowed enough to barely pierce the skin on one side of the neck. But an eighth round got through the other side of the neck and came out his back.

Six months later, he has fully recovered, has been re-certified for jump status, passed all his fitness tests, and will be returning (this time to Afghanistan) within the month. Where do we find such warriors who are protecting us with such devotion? God knows.

/s/ LeRoy Collins


ARABIAN NIGHTMARES

By RALPH PETERS

November 15, 2006 -- YESTERDAY, 80 terrorists in police uniforms raided an Iraqi research institute in Baghdad, rounded up 100-plus male students, loaded them into vehicles in broad daylight and drove away.

They couldn't have pulled it off without the complicity of key elements within the Iraqi security services and the government: "our guys."

The students probably will be executed and dumped somewhere. Partly for the crime of wanting to study and build a future, but primarily just to step up the level of terror yet again.

Apart from highlighting the type of regime of which both Shia and Sunni Arab extremists dream - a land of disciplined ignorance and slavish devotion - the mass kidnapping also highlights the feebleness of our attempts to overcome ruthless enemies with generosity and good manners.

With Iraqi society decomposing - or, at best, reverting to a medieval state with cell phones - the debate in Washington over whether to try to save the day by deploying more troops or withdrawing some is of secondary relevance.

What really matters is what our forces are ordered - and permitted - to do. With political correctness permeating our government and even the upper echelons of the military, we never tried the one technique that has a solid track record of defeating insurgents if applied consistently: the rigorous imposition of public order.

That means killing the bad guys. Not winning their hearts and minds, placating them or bringing them into the government. Killing them.

If you're not willing to lay down a rule that any Iraqi or foreign terrorist masquerading as a security official or military member will be shot, you can't win. And that's just one example of the type of sternness this sort of fight requires.

With the situation in Iraq deteriorating daily, sending more troops would simply offer our enemies more targets - unless we decided to use our soldiers and Marines for the primary purpose for which they exist: To fight.

Of course, we've made a decisive shift in our behavior difficult. After empowering a sectarian regime before imposing order in the streets, we would have to defy an elected government. Leading voices in the Baghdad regime - starting with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki - would demand that we halt any serious effort to defeat Shia militias and eliminate their death squads.

Killing Sunni Arabs would be fine, of course. The Maliki government's reason for being is to promote Shia power.

Reportedly, our CentCom commander, Gen. George Abizaid, just had a "come to Jesus meeting" (metaphor fully intended) with Maliki, warning him that our continued support is contingent on the government moving to impose public order and protect all of Iraq's people. The result is predictable: A few law-enforcement gestures by daylight, some reshuffled government appointments - and more sectarian killing.

From the Iraqi perspective, we're of less and less relevance. They're sure we'll leave. And every faction is determined to do as much damage as possible to the other before we go. Our troops have become human shields for our enemies.

To master Iraq now - if it could be done - we'd have to fight every faction except the Kurds. Are we willing to do that? Are we willing to kill mass murderers and cold-blooded executioners on the spot?

If not, we can't win, no matter what else we do.

Arrest them? We've tried that. Iraq's judges are so partisan or so terrified (or both) that they release the worst thugs within weeks - sometimes within days.

How would you like to be one of Iraq's handful of relatively honest cops knowing that any terrorist or sectarian butcher you bust is going to be back on the block before your next payday? And yeah, they know where you live.

Our "humanity" is cowardice masquerading as morality. We're protecting self-appointed religious executioners with our emphasis on a "universal code of behavior" that only exists in our fantasies. By letting the thugs run the streets, we've abandoned the millions of Iraqis who really would prefer peaceful lives and a modicum of progress.

We're blind to the fundamental moral travesty in Iraq (and elsewhere): Spare the killers in the name of human rights, and you deprive the overwhelming majority of the population of their human rights. Instead of being proud of ourselves for our "moral superiority," we should be ashamed to the depths of our souls.

We're not really the enemy of the terrorists, militiamen and insurgents. We're their enablers. In the end, the future of Iraq will be determined by its people. The question is, which people?

Our naive version of wartime morality handed Iraq to the murderers. Will our excuse for a sectarian bloodbath be that we "behaved with restraint?"

Any code of ethics that squanders the lives of tens of thousands and the future of millions so we can "claim the moral high ground" is hypocrisy worthy of the Europeans who made excuses for the Holocaust.

If we want to give Iraq's silent - and terrified - majority a last chance, we would have to accept the world's condemnation for killing the killers. If we are unwilling to do that, Iraq's finished.

Ralph Peters' most recent book is "Never Quit the Fight."

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Release Date: 11/14/2006

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