Jewish World Review May 5, 2004 / 14 Iyar, 5764

Michael Graham

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The redneck doctrine | What President Bush needs in Iraq is a lot less United Nations and a little more Mississippi.

The U.N. is home to the hand-wringers who keep telling the United States that playing nice with the Iraqis, the Saudis, the French and the Germans will bring peace, love and understanding to the world. They never met a fight they couldn't duck, not in Yugoslavia, not in Rwanda and now in Iraq. The fact that thousands of people ended up dead anyway still isn't enough to justify violence in their minds, particularly violence against a dictator who kept the oil profit kickbacks coming.

That's the U.N. way.

In Mississippi, things work a little differently. People from Mississippi, people like Halliburton truck driver Tommy Hamill, know that sometimes the only solution to a problem is a good old-fashioned ass whoopin'.

You know Tommy Hamill's story: He went to work in Iraq because there was a job to be done there and he needed the money. In April he was taken hostage by some of the same Iraqis he went to help. When an Australian news crew shoved a camera in his face and gave him a chance to boo-hoo about the Bush administration, he kept his mouth shut.

Amazingly, so did his family, at least about politics anyway. They stuck mainly to prayer, knowing as many southerners do that sometimes talking just doesn't do any good. That is a lesson completely lost on the U.N.

Meanwhile, Tommy Hamill was in captivity, and he could have stayed there. He could have conversed with his captors, listened to their views on geopolitical issues, felt their pain. By his own account, he was not mistreated. He was kept in tin shack with a gas lamp; a bucket of water; a can to use as a toilet; and a box of cookies-a situation which would border on prosperity in certain parts of Mississippi.

He got shot in the arm once, but hey — Tommy Hamill's a big boy. He knows that stuff happens.

But instead of trusting his fate to the fedayeen, he made a run for it instead. With a gunman behind him and a convoy of American trucks ahead, he made a running, stumbling dash for freedom, knowing it could have ended with single shot in the back.

As of this writing, we have yet to hear from Mr. Hamill specifically why he took the chance. But it's easy to infer that, as a good ol' boy, he knew that the longer bad guys with guns are hanging around you, the more likely you're going to end up shot. You need to either get rid of the guns, or get out.

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Apparently the Bush administration does not understand this simple, southern logic. When our Marines had Fallujah surrounded, trapping the scumbags responsible for murdering and torching the bodies of American civilians who had come to bring electricity and water, it was time for the Marines to fight. And fight like they meant it: planes, choppers, mortars. Fallujah was the center of resistance, the final stop for the dead-enders of the Saddam regime, as well as several hundred Al Qaeda fighters who showed up, in my humble opinion, just in time to die.

What should have followed, what needed to follow, what every trucker, tree cutter and tractor driver between El Paso, TX and Arlington, VA could tell you needed to happen next, was for the world's most elite fighting force to open a can of whoopass on Fallujah.

Would it have meant American casualties? Yes. Would it have meant civilian casualties? Yes. But that's what it takes to win, and if a fight is worth fighting, it's worth winning. As any Friday night drunk in Jackson, MS knows, if you weren't going to win, why the hell did you pick the fight in the first place?

But the U.N.-types got their way. Instead of an ugly, necessary victory that would have demonstrated clearly to the remaining Iraqi resisters that America is the meanest dog on the block, we have images of insurgents waving the flag of the old regime and cheering the retreat of the US Marines. And that picture was broadcast to every home in the Arab world.

The slick talkers from New York call this "negotiating." They call it a "carrot and stick approach." But as Mac Owens of the Naval War College put it: "The negotiations are being sold as a way of achieving peace while sparing the lives of innocent civilians in the city; but it sends the wrong message to both our enemies and our friends. It teaches them that the United States rewards violence and terrorism and confirms the Arab belief that the Americans are soft."

But not all Americans. Tommy Hamill, his arm still bandaged and his beard unshaved, told his rescuers that he was ready to get back to work in Iraq. Sure, his motivation is personal gain. So is ours. A tamed Iraq that helps us fight terror, sells its oil on the free market and spends more time making money than enemies is in America's direct self interest. And getting to that new Iraq means thoroughly defeating the forces of the old Iraq — something we haven't done.

Tommy Hamill's ready to stay until the job is done. The question is, is George W. Bush? Or will he keep clutching at half-measures, negotiations and an easy out?

Of course, not every fight is winnable. Tommy Hamill, who survived the terrorist militia and televised death threats, still has to face one last foe if he's going to stay in Iraq: His wife, Kellie, of Macon, Mississippi.

Personally, I think he had a better chance against the Iraqis.

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JWR contributor Michael Graham is a talk show host and author of the highly acclaimed "Redneck Nation: How the South Really Won the War." To comment, please click here.



© 2004, Michael Graham