Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Chrenkoff's Good News From Iraq

Don't miss the 16th installment of Arthur Chrenkoff's Good News From Iraq. The scale of ungoing work in Iraq is staggering and Chrenkoff's summaries of what we have accomplished there are extremely gratifying. Yet none of this ever makes it's way onto our evening news. All we ever hear about is the violence, and even that is amplified by the media megaphone to seem far more consequential than it really is. The MSM tunnel vision about developments in Iraq irritates this clergyman:

It takes a lot to get a man of God annoyed and Louis Sako, the Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk, is a very frustrated man these days: "It is not all death and destruction," says the Archbishop. "Much is positive in Iraq today... Universities are operating, schools are open, people go out onto the streets normally... Where there's a kidnapping or a homicide the news gets out immediately, and this causes fear among the people... Those who commit such violence are resisting against Iraqis who want to build their country."

It's not just the terrorists who, according to His Eminence, are creating problems for Iraq: "[January] will be a starting point for a new Iraq... [Yet] Western newspapers and broadcasters are simply peddling propaganda and misinformation... Iraqis are happy to be having elections and are looking forward to them because they will be useful for national unity... Perhaps not everything will go exactly to plan, but, with time, things will improve. Finally Iraqis will be given the chance to choose. Why is there so much noise and debate coming out from the West when before, under Saddam, there were no free elections, but no one said a thing?"

The good news encompasses every aspect of Iraqi life: economic, social, political, and military. Here are just a couple of items related to the security situation:

A recent internet posting, apparently authored by an insurgent commander Abu Ahmed al-Baghdadi, while boasting of recent attacks throughout Iraq, paints a worrying picture of the insurgency:

"The new message opens with a plea for advice from Palestinian and Chechen militants as well as Osama bin Laden supporters in Afghanistan and Pakistan. 'We face many problems,' it reads in Arabic, 'and need your military guidance since you have more experience.'"

"The problems, the message says, are the result of losing the insurgent safe haven of Fallujah to U.S. troops. It says the insurgency was hampered as checkpoints and raids spread 'to every city and road.' Communications broke down as insurgents were forced to spread out through the country."

"The arrest of some of their military experts, more 'spies willing to help the enemy,' and a dwindling supply of arms also added to the organizational breakdown, it reads." According to military analyst Tony Cordesman, "This particular memo asks for strategic advice, but it makes it very clear in the text that what they really want are volunteers, money and more munitions."

In other recent security successes: the arrest of over 100 suspected insurgents in Baghdad ("Among the 104 detainees, most were Iraqis but some were from Syria and other Arab countries... Nine of the total had escaped from Fallujah"); a seizure of a senior insurgency commander in the Anbar province; detaining 38 insurgent suspects in a raid near Kirkuk; the arrest of one of Al Zarqawi's top commanders in Mosul; the capture of five foreign fighters who escaped from Fallujah and were preparing attacks around Basra; the arrest of 116 suspects in a sweep southwest of Baghdad; the arrest of 57 suspects throughout Mosul and Ad Dawr, the town where Saddam was captured last year; rounding up 32 suspects and uncovering a stockpile of more than 500 artillery rounds by Iraqi and Coalition troops south of Baghdad; rounding up another 24 suspected insurgents in an operation around Tal Afar; and the arrest of 210 suspects in a week-long sweep through the so called "triangle of death".

There is so much more at Chrenkoff's site, and it's an excellent antidote to the incessant pessimism, negativism, and defeatism of the MSM. We say this not to minimize tragedies like the recent suicide bombing of the mess hall in Mosul, but to bring perspective to the overall trajectory of the task we have undertaken in the Middle East. That trajectory is leading to success and the horrors of Mosul will not deflect it, any more than the enormous losses at Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge altered the outcome of that conflict. The only thing that can prevent us from achieving the democratization of Iraq and radically altering the political landscape of the Middle East is a lack of will.

The Mosul Attack

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit directs us to this site maintained by a chaplain named Lewis who was involved in the recent attack on the dining hall and hospital in Mosul. His account is as riveting as it is heart-breaking. Our hearts go out to the victims of these criminal attacks. Here are a couple of excerpts:

"Ilena" (a made up name. She spoke very softly and had a thick accent so I couldn't really hear her) had been hit by a piece of shrapnel just above her left breast causing a classic sucking chest wound. The doctors said she had a hemothorax (I think that's what they called it) which basically meant her left lung was filling with blood and she was having a very hard time breathing. For the next 20 minutes I held her hand while a doctor made an incision in her left side, inserted most of his hand and some kind of medical instrument and then a tube to alleviate the pressure caused by the pooling blood. It was probably the most medieval procedure I have ever been privy to. In the end she was taken to ICU and will be OK.

"Mark" was put on a stretcher and laid along a wall. A small monitor on his hand would tell the nurses when he was dead. Even a cursory glance said it was inevitable. Mark had a head wound that left brain matter caked in his ear and all over the stretcher he was lying on. I knelt next to Mark and placed a hand on is chest. His heart was barely beating but it was beating so I put my face close to his ear to pray with him. If you've never smelled human brain matter it is something unforgettable. I had something of an internal struggle. He's practically dead so why stay? He probably can't hear anything! A prayer at that point seemed of little value. But I couldn't risk it. I prayed for Mark and led him in the sinners prayer as best I could. There are few things in this life that will make you feel more helpless.

Regardless of what some may say, these [the insurgents] are not stupid people. Any attack with casualties will naturally mean that eventually a very large number of care givers will be concentrated in one location. They took full advantage of that. In the middle of the mayhem the first mortar round hit about 100 to 200 meters away. Everyone started shouting to get the wounded into the hospital which is solid concrete and much safer than being in the open. Soon, the next mortar hit quite a bit closer than the first as they "walked" their rounds toward their intended Everyone began to rush toward the building. I stood at the door shoving as many people inside as I could. Just before heading in myself, the last one hit directly on top of the hospital. I was standing next to the building so was shielded from any flying shrapnel. In fact, the building, being built as a bunker took the hit with little effect. However, I couldn't have been more than 10 to 15 meters from the point of impact and brother did I feel the shock. That'll wake you up! I rushed inside to find doctors and nurses draped over patients, others on the floor or under something. I ducked low and quickly moved as far inside as I could.

As my assistant and I walked away at the end of the day I saw another chaplain and a soldier standing among the silent rows of black body bags. The soldier wanted to see his friend one more time. We slowly and as respectfully as possible unzipped the bag to reveal the face of a very young Private First Class. His friend stared for a few seconds then turned away and began to cry.

The last count was 25 dead, and around 45 wounded. Nevertheless, our cause is just and God is in control even when the crap is a yard deep. I'm where God wants me and wouldn't change that for anything, even if it means death. After all, "to die is gain".

A deliberate attack on a hospital, after having planned it for maximum casualties, is heinous. These are the sort of people whose "rights" the Left has been so concerned about protecting. When a young Marine, scared for his life, shot one he believed was feigning death in order to draw the Marine closer so as to kill him, the Left wanted to hang the kid from the nearest tree. Their reaction to attacks like the one in Mosul is essentially to demand that we pull out of Iraq and let the orcs butcher the entire population. God help the Iraqi people if the Left ever gets its way, and thank God for men in the service like Chaplain Lewis.

Low Wattage in High Places

In our Feedback Forum D.S. asks:

I wonder why it is OK for a Jewish superintendent to allow Hanukkah music at the Christmas pageants, but not for the majority of Christian staff and faculty to be allowed to listen to Christmas music with a Christian theme?

One answer to this question we came across in the news is that Hanukkah celebrates an historical event whereas Christmas is religious, and thus taboo. This answer speaks volumes about how school administrators view Christianity. It assumes that the birth of Jesus is ahistorical, i.e. that Jesus is really a figure of myth and legend and had no objective existence. How else is the reply to be understood? Christians don't celebrate "religion" on Christmas, they celebrate a birth, a religiously significant birth to be sure, but an historical event nonetheless.

Perhaps the superintendent in the news report meant to justify permitting Hanukkah music, but not traditional Christmas music in school assemblies, by reasoning that historical events can be celebrated but only if they have no religious significance. The difficulty with this interpretation is that, if it is indeed what the superintendent was thinking, it makes him look a little uninformed. Hanukkah is laden with religious significance. It is a celebration of the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the miraculous victory God granted the Macabees over the Syrians several centuries before Christ and is characterized by lighting the Menorah, a candelabrum used in Synagogues around the world during religious services.

One can only conclude that the people making these decisions and employing these justifications are exceptionally dim-witted or that they are deliberately privileging some religious observances over others. Or perhaps both.

The irony in allowing Hanukkah songs while excluding Christmas music, if considered dispassionately, is as much to be savored as is the dopiness of the rationale being offered for it. It seems that, deliberately or not, some public school administrators are turning Christmas into a Jewish holiday.

The AutoPen

Powerline posts this note from the father of a Marine in Iraq writing about the Don Rumsfeld/Autopen tempest in the MSM teapot:

If [our son] had been killed, we would have been first informed by a visit - in dress blues - from a condolence team typically consisting of two Marines and one Navy Chaplain. We know many families who've received that knock on the door. No letter is required. No words are required. A simple peek thru the view hole in the door and the sight of dress blue blouses, white covers and white gloves tells you all you ever need to know. A letter of condolence from the SecDef is, honestly, not even worth opening. Families are much more interested in hearing from the men who served with their son and from their families.

We share the constant knowledge and fear that it could be our door bell being rung. Sec. Rumsfeld doesn't know our son. He's a Lance Corporal. He directs a machine gun team. He is a vital link in the line that protects our way of life. He doesn't fight for his country, he doesn't fight for the SecDef, he doesn't even fight for his mom and dad. He fights for the guys on either side of him and for his team. He fights to secure his objective of the moment, which he may or may not understand or agree with. Sec Rumsfeld doesn't need to take time from his day to sign a form letter of condolence and he certainly doesn't need to take time to figure out what the LCpl was doing when he was killed or what kind of a man he was. His job is to make sure the LCpl didn't die in vain and that only as few LCpl's as possible will have to die to end this war in a successful manner.

Don't get me wrong, we would appreciate the condolence letter from the SecDef, as well as one from the White House and from our Senator and Representative, from the Mayor and Governor. But none would bring back our son. And they are all form letters, signatures be damned. A letter from his 1stSgt, from the men we know in his unit would be a treasure and a comfort.

I don't know what happens in other branches, or even other units. But in 2/4, I know the 1stSgt's personally contact the surviving family with letters, emails and phone calls of condolence.

By the way, we know families of fallen Marines who've been flown to sites where President Bush was speaking. He met with them privately after his event, never any press coverage, and the families have said that - after being given an agenda for their time with the President and being told that he's on a very tight schedule - Mr. Bush talked to every family member as long as they wanted to talk, never hurried anyone, cried with family, hugged everyone and they all felt like he had nothing else to do for the rest of the day but bring comfort to them. For that, George W. Bush has my eternal respect and gratitude. And there was NEVER one word of publicity surrounding any of these meetings with families. (I have pictures to dissuade doubters.)

Bottom line, we support Sec Rumsfeld. The people who are making a big deal about this have their heads up their collective a****. They need to have a serious priority check on what people in positions of responsibility should be doing with their time. They should also chat with some military families if they could figure out how to contact them.

Part of what's going on with Rumsfeld is this: The media knows they can't get Bush, as much as they'd like to, so they're trying to wound him by tearing to pieces anyone associated with the administration whom they think is vulnerable, whether the victim really deserves it or not. The media circles Rumsfeld like hyenas working a wounded bull, every so often sallying forth to take a nip at a haunch, hoping to bleed him until they can safely pounce. It's a manifestation of human depravity, we suppose, but they are liberal journalists, after all.

The other thing that's happening is that some in the Congress see Rumsfeld's problems with the media as an opportunity to promote themselves with the public. Nothing makes a man feel as self-important as denouncing someone of even greater importance than himself. To sucker punch a big guy publicly, especially when you know that he won't fight back, is cost-free for a politician. It allows him to preen and strut around the ring as if he's done something noble, and it requires neither courage nor wit.