These have been tough days for our countrymen in Iraq. They may yet get tougher. But it will do us all some good to take a deep breath, and look at what some of our ancestors had to face in similar dark moments.
The killings in Fallujah of four civilian aid workers, and the subsequent mutilation of their bodies by cheering thugs and bloody-handed children filled me with rage and an overwhelming desire to turn my back on these savages and leave them to their own murderous history. Many of those people deserve nothing better. And I am bitterly disappointed that, having failed to overthrow their own murdering tyrant, the wider population of Iraqis has failed to rise to the occasion when their freedom was paid for them with the blood of our own sons and daughters.
This, of course, is exactly, precisely the reaction those murdering bastards were counting on, and I mean to do what I can to see that they do not get rewarded for their actions. They had assumed that if enough Americans could be killed, we would turn tail and run. This is not an unreasonable strategy on their part; we have trained these monsters to believe this about us in Beirut and Somalia, and the price we paid for minimizing pain then is coming due now, and will continue to come due until we can install some new programming into the surviving savages that commit these crimes.
Failing to achieve this result with sheer numbers, they have decided to multiply our disgust with their primal bloodlust and celebratory orgies — and as a knee-jerk reaction to this atrocity, I must say it does have a power all its own.
The Ba’athists in Fallujah are counting on us to do one of two things: throw up our hands in disgust and walk away, in which case they win; or retaliate so brutally and indiscriminately that the general population of Iraqis tilts away from reform and back into the hands of their sadistic former masters -‘ in which case, they win again. This siding with their prior torturers, of course, is an emotional and childish response, but I do not yet behold vast oceans of clear, unemotional, rational thought among natives of the Middle East.
So now, we -‘ you and I — will have to supply enough of that for both our countries.
Fallujah is a bunker; they have a bunker mentality, and like all last stands of doomed ideologies they intend to go out in a blaze of glory. Against these animals we have sent Marines armed with Frisbees for native children, and donated medical and firefighting gear to show friendship and good will to communities that commit these kinds of atrocities. That is an appropriate first gesture, and a reflection of the essential goodness and generosity of the American character.
(Note to The Left: When these things happen, Real Nazis shoot hostages. Thousands of them. Every time you use that word to describe this country you spit in the face of those terrified, untold millions who died in a ditch with hands bound behind their back.)
But let us remember that the motto of the Marines is ‘there is no better friend and no worse enemy than the U.S. Marine Corps.’ Having tried the better friend approach, many in Fallujah may now, through their own brutal and sadistic choice, experience the alternative. Perhaps they will choose differently the next time they face such an option. For many of those that committed this act, their opportunities to choose anything have ended, today. Bury them with Uday and Qusay.
We have seen Fallujah before: this dying gasp of the last holdouts of a sadistic regime, enemies to their own people, has played out in Berlin in recent memory and all throughout history.
Of far more consequence is the nation-wide revolt currently underway among Shiites loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr. Al Sadr, we may remember, is widely credited with ordering the stabbing assassination of his fellow cleric at the door to Iraq’s holiest site. His ‘army’ is an army in the same way that the Crips were an ‘army’ in Los Angeles. They are thugs. They now face a real army, and I predict it will not be at all to their liking.
But the fact remains that we have lost a lot of good men these past few days, and there is a natural inclination to see failure and hopelessness in this huge task we have set ourselves to.
So keep this in mind:
In late 1864, after horrendous casualties, the Union was bogged down in the trenches surrounding Richmond and had chased the western Rebels into the fastness of Atlanta -‘ and seemed not a day closer to victory than they had at Gettysburg, an unimaginably bloody year before.
Then, as now, the newspapers were ablaze with lurid headlines of the failure of the war, and then, as now, a Democrat was running on a peace now platform. He too was a former soldier who claimed to want to protect the troops by bringing them home from a fight they should never have been in in the first place.
Things looked so bleak for the Republican president that he had his entire cabinet sign the back of an unopened letter; he claimed that since he, Lincoln, seemed certain to lose the election in November, he would have only until March to finish the war and needed the blind support of the men who surrounded him.
How bleak must that have been for the millions of Americans who had supported the war against slavery for three years of meat-grinder horror? How dark must their night have been, after all that blood and treasure, to think that the South would be able to walk away and gain through the Union ballot box what they had failed to win on so many blood-soaked fields? What kind of fear was that?
Or what about the home front in 1944? The invasion, though brutal on the beaches, had gone very well. The Americans, British and Canadians had broken through the hedgerows of Normandy, and Patton was covering almost a hundred miles a day as he thrust the dagger of his Third Army into the heart of the German western front. The war in Europe, surely, might be over in a few weeks.
What then of the shock and fear when news came of unlimited Panzer divisions pouring through the Ardennes? We lost more Americans in the Battle of the Bulge than at any other time in the European theater? How sat our parents and grandparents in December of 1944, huddled around the radio, listening to news of mass American surrenders and unstoppable Nazi spearheads? How did they persevere?
What we face, today, in Iraq is trivial compared to these moments, and I no longer believe that our American fathers and great-great-great grandfathers were made of better stuff than we are. They too had their defeatists and appeasers and critics and naysayers; they too had to face the darkness of the unknown now, before history could light these moments as the darkness before the dawn of victory.
The indispensable Steven Den Beste today writes that these insurgents in action today across Iraq have made a monumental error; and I will not presume to repeat his argument because I could never improve upon it. But against these darkness-before-the-dawn moments of 1864 and 1944, we can behold a darker shadow; that of Tet, 1968. There, the North Vietnamese gambled on what turned into a massive battlefield defeat, a disaster of the first order. But we -‘ we, ourselves -‘ decided to run from that fight. And now we may behold the consequences.
There were many people who, in good conscience, were against our presence in Vietnam. Many today feel the same about Iraq. But the fact remains for both groups: this argument is good and necessary before we go to war; once there, the enemies of America have one way and one way only to defeat this nation, and that is from within. They are counting on Janeane Garofolo and Kos and Michael Moore and Sarandon and Franken and Rather. The bodies on the Fallujah bridge are for them. And, sadly, it seems they know their audience.
But if our enemies can learn from Vietnam and Beirut and Mogadishu’ so can we.
Then be silent and introspective, for today our men and women are dying for the one idea worth dying for. And take from their sacrifice not defeat and sadness, but a solemn and sacred appreciation that three or four nations throughout an entire world that quivers in fear of these savages has the guts and the courage and the will to finish this job and bring freedom and security to a people that may not yet have earned it.
Remember: we fight this 12th century Death Cult in Iraq or we fight them in New York. We choose. We will soon enough see if the Iraqis have earned the freedom Americans are dying to protect tonight.
That is irrelevant. We fight for our freedom. We have earned it.