Jun 5, 2006

Misplaced outrage and historical perspective 

The picture:

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The thousand words (God, Mark Steyn's good):
I don't know any more than you do about the precise nature of events triggered in Haditha by Cpl. Terrazas' death. But assume every dark rumor you've heard is true, that this was the murder of civilians by American service personnel. In the run-up to March 2003, there were respectable cases to be made for and against the Iraq war. Nothing that happened at Haditha alters either argument. And, if you're one of the ever swelling numbers of molting hawks among the media, the political class and the American people for whom Haditha is the final straw, that's not a sign of your belated moral integrity but of your fundamental unseriousness. Anyone who supports the launching of a war should be clear-sighted enough to know that, when the troops go in, a few of them will kill civilians, bomb schools, torture prisoners. It happens in every war in human history, even the good ones. Individual Americans, Britons, Canadians, Australians did bad things in World War II and World War I. These aren't stunning surprises, they're inevitable: It might be a bombed mosque or a gunned-down pregnant woman or a slaughtered wedding party, but it will certainly be something. And, in the scales of history, it makes no difference to the justice of the cause and the need for victory.

For three years, coalition forces in Iraq behaved so well that a salivating Vietnam culture had to make do with the thinnest of pickings: one depraved jailhouse, a prisoner on a dog leash with a pair of Victoria's Secret panties on his head and an unusually positioned banana. "Just look at the way U.S. army reservist Lynndie England holds the leash of the naked, bearded Iraqi," wrote Robert Fisk, the dean of the global media's Middle Eastern correspondents. "No sadistic movie could outdo the damage of this image. In September 2001, the planes smashed into the buildings; today, Lynndie smashes to pieces our entire morality with just one tug on the leash."

Down, boy.

But now at last the media have their story. They're off the leash. And, if the worst rumors are true, those 10 Marines will come to symbolize the 99.99 percent of their comrades who every day do great things for the Iraqi and Afghan people.
Of course, is there any chance we'll capitalize on the enemy's own actions? Probably not:

21 Shias and Kurds taken off bus and shot at fake checkpoint
According to local police the passengers were separated on the side of the road into Sunni Arabs and non-Sunni Arabs. The non-Sunnis, including 19 Shia Turkomen and two Kurds, were then shot. Some tried to escape but were gunned down.

The dead also included several elderly men, police said. One person was wounded. Four Sunni Arab passengers who survived the ordeal were later helping police with their inquiries.

The attack came a day after police discovered seven severed heads in banana boxes by the roadside in Baquba, a mixed Sunni-Shia town that has seen a surge in violence. Another head, that of a local Sunni cleric, was perched on top of the boxes.

A note with the heads said: "This is the fate of every traitor. Hell will be his final destination." Police believe the seven beheaded men were Sunni cousins who worked together driving lorries for foreign contractors.
Regardless of if the Haditha stuff turns out to be true, you can bet that right now there are bad guys spreading the word to all their little bad guy buddies to start telling these tales as far and as wide as possible. I expect to see a flood of these stories - all false - popping up in the near future. Why? Because the enemy knows that we run ourselves ragged trying to prove or disprove the story's validity. We will expend massive time and energy, and while the accusations are front page news, the retractions when the story turns out to be untrue get buried on page C-27 right behind the blue-haired little old lady who won the local chili cookoff.

Like I said before, we used to see enemies for who they were:

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Hell, we didn't even have to make up bad things to say about them.
Kinda like now, if we pulled our heads out of our asses...

On the eve of the D-Day anniversary, remember this: the outcome of World War II was not a foregone conclusion. It was very much in doubt and could have been lost. The same holds for this war. It's time we pulled out some old tricks to beat the new enemy.

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