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Jewish World Review
Jan. 17, 2007
/ 27 Teves, 5767
What I saw in Iraq
Last week, I embedded with U.S. Army troops at Forward Operating Base
Justice in northern Baghdad. Outside the wire, we toured the slums and met
with neighborhood leaders inching toward self-sufficiency in al Salam. We
sipped chai with a sheikh who condemned terrorists on all sides. We watched
residents bicker over a civil affairs blanket drop in Khadamiyah. We sat
with slimy Mahdi Army apologists in Hurriya. We stopped by a Sunni insurgent
enclave, which soldiers I patrolled with dubbed a "sniperville," in al Adil.
There's nothing glamorous or romantic about these missions. No one will
make a movie about our men and women in uniform engaged in the tedious,
painstaking business of moving Iraq toward stability and governability. But
if the war is to be wonif security is to be established and the foundations
of a civil society bolsteredthis is ground zero. The troops I met ask only
three things of their fellow Americans back home: time, patience, and
understanding of the enormous complexities on the ground.
In Washington, counterinsurgency theory (COIN) is a neat, elite
intellectual abstraction. Since coalition forces simply can't catch and kill
every insurgent lurking in the populace, the theory goes, it's up to the
military to persuade the Iraqi people to turn on the insurgents, join the
political process, and help themselves. At FOB Justiceformer headquarters
of Saddam Hussein's ruthless military intelligence unit, the site of the
dictator's execution by hanging, and home to the Dagger Brigade 2nd Brigade
Combat Team, 1st Infantry DivisionCOIN is a vivid, hands-on reality. Here,
a task force of brainy commanders, brawny patrol officers, courageous
Arab-American interpreters, wizened trainers and intel gatherers, baby-faced
convoy drivers, and grim-humored gunners attempts to put President Bush's
"winning hearts and minds" idealism into daily practice.
Modern war in the Middle East is no longer as cut-and-dry as shooting all
the bad guys and going home. We are fighting a "war of the fleas"not just
Sunni terrorists and Shiite death squads, but multiple home-grown and
foreign operators, street gangs, organized crime, and freelance jihadis
conducting ambushes, extrajudicial killings, sectarian attacks, vehicle
bombings, and sabotage against American, coalition, and Iraqi forces.
Cellphones, satellites, and the Internet have allowed the fleas to magnify
their importance, disseminate insurgent propaganda instantly, and weaken
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I came to Iraq a darkening pessimist about the war, due in large part to my
doubts about the compatability of Islam and Western-style democracy, but
also as a result of the steady, sensational diet of "grim milestone" and
"daily IED count" media coverage that aids the insurgency.
I left Iraq with unexpected hope and resolve.
The everyday bravery and consummate professionalism of the troops I
embedded with has strengthened my faith in the U.S. military. These soldiers
are well aware of the history, culture, and sectarian strife that has
wracked the Muslim world for more than a millennium. "They love death," one
gunner muttered as we heard explosions in the distance while parked in al
Adil. Nevertheless, these troops are willing to put their lives on the line
to bring security to Iraq, one neighborhood at a time.
They have teamed with Sunni and Shia, Iraqi civilian and soldier, alike to
establish local government structures and security framework districts. "We
are not here to build the Iraqi Security Forces," Lieutenant Colonel Steven
Miska, deputy commander for the Dagger Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry
Division, said. "We're here to grow them. You can't just plant and walk
away." Capt. Aaron Kaufman of Task Force Justice added: "It's not a
six-month or year-long process, especially when you're talking about
training the Iraqi forces."
The troops I met scoff at peace activists' efforts to "bring them home
now." But they are just as critical of the Bush administration and
Pentagon's misstepsfrom holding Iraqi elections too early, to senselessly
breaking up their brigade combat team, to drawing down forces and
withdrawing last year in Baghdad and Fallujah, to failing to hold cities
after clearing them of insurgents. They speak candidly and critically of
Shiite militia infiltration of some Iraqi police and Iraqi Army units and
corruption in government ministries, but they want you to know about the
unheralded good news, too.
Every day, Iraqi Army trainees risk their lives and their family's lives to
come to work at FOB Justice. Residents of Khadamiyah approach the base with
tips. Schools are re-opening; neighborhood councils are sharing
intelligence. "All those things are coming together," Capt. Stacy Bare,
civil affairs officer, said emphatically.
Winning the counterinsurgency battle is not just about keeping Iraqis safe.
It's about keeping Americans safeby sending a message that the mightiest
military in the world cannot and will not be outwitted and outlasted by the
fleas. On the emblem of the Dagger Brigade are two imperatives: "Continue
mission!" and "Duty first." These troops are committed to their mission.
They deserve our commitment to them.
Michelle's embed tour in Iraq, with her HotAir.com colleague Bryan Preston,
was sponsored by the New York Post. Video reports of their Iraq journey can
be viewed at HotAir.com.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Comment on JWR contributor Michelle Malkin's column by clicking here.
Michelle Malkin Archives
In Unhinged: Liberals Gone Wild
adj : affected with madness or insanity; [syn: brainsick, crazy, demented, distracted, disturbed, mad, sick, unbalanced]
The American Heritage Dictionary
*** Warning: Unhinged liberals are hazardous to the nation's health.
They're slashing your tires. Burning your lawns. Heaving pies at Republican pundits. Hurling racist epithets at minority conservatives. Nursing nutty conspiracy theories. And pining publicly for the murder of President Bush.
And they call us crazy?
In In Unhinged: Liberals Gone Wild, Michelle Malkin plays conservative Margaret Mead to the alien political creatures of the American Left. With uproarious detail and rollicking reportage, Malkin chronicles the bizarre world of leftists gone mad in their natural habitats: the mainstream media, academia, Hollywood, and Washington.
Unhinged unmasks liberals who've completely abandoned rationality and reality. They're taking chainsaws and bayonets to campaign signs. Running down political opponents with their cars. Setting fire to political opponents in effigy. Defacing war memorials. Swiping yellow ribbons off cars. And supporting the fragging of American troops.
In Unhinged, you'll meet:
- The Top 10 Unhinged Leftists, Celebrities, Media Liberals, and Politicians. - The Pennsylvania Democrat who repeatedly screamed "faggot" at his Republican opponents on the Senate floor. - The Florida Democrat who tried to run down former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris with his Cadillac. - The Democrat congressman who claimed the capture of Saddam Hussein was staged by GOP operatives to help the Bush re-election campaign. - The veteran newsman who claimed that Bush advisor Karl Rove and Osama bin Laden are working hand-in-hand to help the Republican Party. - And hundreds more unhinged liberals gone wild!
With wit, wisdom, and a bullet-proof vest, Michelle Malkin ruthlessly and raucously skewers the myths of liberal tolerance, peace, and civility. Unhinged shows how conservatives are driving their opponents mad. The good news for liberals? Self-help starts here.
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© 2005, Creators Syndicate