Saturday, June 24, 2006
COURAGE, GRATITUDE AND RESOLVE
he discovery this week of the desecrated bodies of two US servicemen captured by terrorists near Baghdad last Friday, revealed a depth of depravity that most human beings would not even want to contemplate. The trauma for their families is likewise something that most of us can't begin to appreciate, amplified by the fact that gruesome details were being relayed and speculated about in the media before they had even been notified of their loved ones' deaths. A loose-lipped Iraqi official had blabbed about the find to the media, while US officials were keeping quiet until proper family notification had been carried out.
When the killings were first reported (Tuesday night over here), my immediate suspicion was that the heavy-duty manhunt (8,000 personel) in that immediate area had forced the terrorists' hand. Normal procedure for these people involves playing things out for the media circus, release some taunting videos, make some ridiculous demands, and finally to record the murders for maximum terror effect (and al Jazeera ratings). Something is different here. At the Belmont Club, Wretchard had similar thoughts:
That the terrorists had to forgo their customary media carnival can only mean they found it too dangerous to go further, like a predator who must drop his victim because the beaters were right behind them.My second suspicion was that, given the factor of extreme torture and desecration of the bodies, the "progressive" Left, MSM and Andrew Sullivan (excuse the redundance) would strive to turn the blame back on America. And so it came to pass. But before getting to that ugliness, let's steel ourselves with a few more words from Wretchard's piece.
Knowing that we can do no more for these soldiers my most earnest wish is for the pursuit [to] continue. Rescue is now beyond hope. But not retribution.Hear, hear.
The next morning I watched John Burns in Baghdad speaking to Margaret Warner on NewsHour.
Now, we have a statement from al-Qaida on a Web site, the al-Hesba Web site. It's a password-protected jihadist Web site, al-Qaida in Iraq. And this is where the story really takes us back into the eighth century, a truly barbaric world.Ritual slaughter of animals for religous occasions. I hope not to cause offence here, but part of what made John Burns' words strike particularly deep for me, was a very recent experience. One of these religious occasions happened while I was in Aceh a few months ago, on Idul Adha. Everyone gets dressed up in their best clothes and goes early in the morning to the Masjid. There, on the plaza around the mosque, the water buffalo (and a few goats) are slaughtered, divided into small portions and distributed among the community, with focus on the poorer ones. That morning, I delayed "going to see the sacrifice" until the killing would be finished. I just don't like to watch anything die, especially those big, beautiful buffalos. It would have been improper for me not to have gone to the Masjid before it was finished, which I did.
It says that the newly named leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, that is to say the people the American command believe succeeded Abu Musab al-Zarqawi when he was killed in a bombing last week, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, personally executed these two American soldiers. And it uses the phrase "nahr," which is an Arabic word which is usually used to connote the cutting of the throat of a sheep or a goat in a ritual beheading.
I'm very sorry to have to tell you this, because this must be extremely painful for the families involved, but it looks as though these two soldiers were probably beheaded or at least subjected to some sort of ritual throat- cutting of that kind, and that it may even be that the bodies were decapitated and that may be the reason why they cannot at this moment positively identify them.
When these so-called "insurgents" can even think in this way in regards to two human beings, is all the proof I need that such creatures occupy the deepest Heart of Darkness the world has seen in a very long time. We might as well just call it evil -- if such a thing exists, this is it. Sure, they've already been killing, and killing, and more by the mass. From the UN Baghdad in '03 until today, it's been one mass atrocity after another. Turning wanton murder into a religous ritual is, over and above the war crimes themselves, the same as stealing something from every normal, humane Muslim, and appropriating it to satisfy the sickness in those few twisted minds, those fanatical jihadi minds. John Burns again:
This is a very traumatic incident for the American military. My guess is, having spent a lot of time with the troops, that it will not demoralize them so much as it will stiffen resolve, but certainly it's a very difficult day.I hope it might have similar effects -- maybe after the full story comes out -- on the missing resolve of the
Amnesty International soon released a short statement, including this whopper:
Amnesty International, first and foremost, extends its sincerest condolences to the families of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker for their tragic loss. We are deeply disturbed by reports that these two soldiers were brutally tortured. These reports, if proven true, may rise to the level of war crimes."These reports" include -- above the slaughter itself -- planting of bombs in, around, and in the vicinity of the soldiers' bodies. AI says, "if proven true," it "may rise to the level..."?! The statement goes on to even tougher language. "Those who order or commit such atrocities must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law without recourse to the death penalty." Of course not, because that would make us like them, right?
Do me a small favour, Amnesty International (a group that I've greatly appreciated in many other instances). If such a thing should ever happen to me, spare your public statements. In another article, Wretchard said it well.
My own testament, for the record, are that if I should ever be tortured, have my throat slit, beheaded, mutilated and then have booby traps planted round my corpse so that they might kill any relatives and friends -- should any of this ever happen to me -- that Amnesty International kindly refrain from extending it's "sincerest condolences" and weasely condemnations and offering its insulting and gratuitous advice. I don't want them. I would much rather lie forgotten in some open field than have one of Amnesty International's sick letters on my casket. Not that they would write it.If you are one who is bothered by the specious moral equivalence of harsh interrogation techniques (and/or those instances of illegal treatment, investigated and prosecuted to an extent never seen during any previous war), with terrorists' unique brand of extreme torture and mass slaughter as standard operating procedures, you might not want to view this political cartoon by an alleged person named Mike Luckovich. However, if you can stand it, you may register your approval or otherwise at that page. Comments are now closed, but make interesting reading. It's sickening to think that even 10% of viewers approved.
And let me quickly offer here an antidote to that trash, from a piece by Michael Yon which needs to be read in full. Brave Men and Demons.
Our people who have truly stared into the face of this terrorist demon have seen the ruby glow in its eyes. This is not a myth. This is not a politically contrived caricature, this demon is real. It usually stalks the easy prey — children, women in crowds, families focused on prayer, rescue workers responding to people in need. Some terrorists manage to get our soldiers.They stood between us and it, as thousands of their comrades do, with great courage. By "us" I mean civilised humanity, whether we are in Baghdad, Bangkok or Boston. Our deepest gratitude can never reach sufficient measure for such personal sacrifice. The least that some of us could start doing, would be to refrain from reflexively assuming the worst about them (Murtha, Luckovich, "Andsul" -- I'm looking at you).
In the days ahead as we learn the details, I hope that Americans can muster the same incredible courage I have seen ordinary Iraqis rise to on countless occasions. If we do, then despite the reflexive pull back caused by the horror of these murders, our commitment to put down the terrorists who committed these murders will be redoubled.
Let our brave men be remembered with dignity and great honor, for they died in hell while fighting the devil himself.
These boys belong to their families now.
An afterthought on the question of resolve, an issue mentioned by John Burns, Wretchard and Michael Yon in the quotes cited above. The fervent wish of some, to desert the Iraqis to their fate, was put to congressional votes at least three different ways during the past few days. These were handily defeated each time -- the most cowardly proposal being that of Senator Kerry which earned only 13 supporting votes, and required giving al Qaeda a date certain. But just don't call it "cut and run," which from reading James Taranto this morning, is an expression Mr. Kerry apparently doesn't like very much:
Uh, they're--you hear the drumbeat on every television show from every commentator, "cut and run, cut and run, cut and run, cut and run." That's their phrase. They've found their three words, they love to do that, and they're gonna try to make the elections in November a choice between "cut and run" or "stay the course."But then again on the flipside, what a difference two and a half years can make. On December 3, 2003 (by my reckoning, 12 days before the capture of Saddam Hussein), Kerry spoke to the Council on Foreign Relations:
In fact, I fear that in the run-up to the 2004 election, the administration is considering what is tantamount to a cut-and-run strategy. Their sudden embrace of accelerated Iraqification and American troop withdrawal dates, without adequate stability, is an invitation to failure. The hard work of rebuilding Iraq must not be dictated by the schedule of the next American election.So was it actually Kerry himself who originally coined the phrase "cut-and-run strategy" to throw at President Bush? An interesting possibility.
But this in turn reminded me of a passage I'd come across while re-reading The War Against America by Laurie Mylroie [published in 2000]. The book investigates the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and the multiple links of Saddam's regime to the plot. The relevant section recounts the Clinton administration's preparations to "strike" Iraq at the beginning of 1998, following yet another round of failed UN based diplomacy and UNSCOM runarounds by Saddam. The purpose of the strike would be to " substantially reduce or delay" Iraq's unconventional weapons programs, and going as far as to "seriously diminish the threat..." -- President Clinton's words in February of that year. Not long before, Secretary of Defense William Cohen had his famous appearance on talk shows with that five-pound bag of sugar, doing a stand-in for anthrax. Mylroie wrote (page 156):
But if the threat from Iraq could be represented by just five pounds of anthrax, how could a bombing campaign "seriously diminish" that threat? Didn't we have to get rid of Saddam? Senator John Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts, noted the "disconnect" between the threat and what the administration proposed to do. A Vietnam veteran, Kerry suggested that he would be ready to support even a ground war to eliminate Saddam. Advised that he was "way ahead" of dominant opinion in Washington, Kerry responded, "I believe in this." *He believed in this. Until he didn't. Now he is offended by the "cut-and-run strategy" label. Except while employing it speculatively against President Bush, mere months after the fall of the Saddam regime. How quaint.
* [Cited source: This Week, ABC News, February 22, 1998]