Apologies again for the break. I have been ill. With a head-cold/cough. And from reaching my threshold again with Iraq.
A few other things need addressing also, and I think I can cover them all in one post.
One, "Whither the freedom fighter?" This sort of deeply confused nihilism was first brought into the public square most noticeably by no less a balanced thinker and bien-pensant than Michael Moore. The question he begged, as dipomatically as I can put it is, "What is a freedom fighter?"
If you're a 19th century Slav fighting Ottoman or Austro-Hungarian Imperialism - I could understand your confusion. If, on the other hand, sharia's your bag and you like having four wives and preventing them from learning to read - I can understand borrowing the language of the free peoples of the West in order to co-opt the weakest minds among them. If, however, one is a 21st century bon-vivant of Europe - your confusion is inexcusable. Why one would expound on that confusion on a US soldier's blog likewise escapes me - if only for taste's sake.
Fortunately, the answers are at your fingertips. Several websites exist to explicate the differences between conventional armed forces of free nations and jihadist scum and one of them is Ogrish.com. The intent of websites such as this is expressly apolitical, but just as Ozzie Ozbourne is a walking anti-drug advertisement in spite of himself - Ogrish.com is one of many sites to which the truly ogrish exploits of these beastial men can proudly post their barbarity. Go there and stomach what you can.
Some men build hospitals and clinics and staff them with doctors and medical supplies. Other men come along and blow them up and assassinate the doctors and nurses. And it doesn't make anyone sound more worldly or sophisticated to anguish over the yawing chasm between the two as though it were nuance and "shades of gray." In light of the times we're living through, not only is it maddeningly silly - it is dangerous. In most parts of Europe nowadays - Islam is not remote and beyond the sense of sight and smell - unless you're avoiding it all together. I supppose they don't call it "Stockholm syndrome" for nothing. Malmo, I'm told, is 40% muslim already, and "honor-killings" in Sweden are now not unheard of. We're in Iraq fighting for the freedom of Muslims to erect a modern society, and its proceeding apace despite their best efforts. I fear the worst joke in history is on us. What we are likely to leave behind in any outcome is an elected government representing the public face of what we've been fighting and will continue to fight. A bit like a 1956 invasion of Hungary, and the citizens of Hungary elect the communists in our wake. This would not have been a futile gesture, whatever the outcome - as it will have expressed the genuine good will, and transcedant hope and brotherly love that befits our civilization. And in any case - it had to be tried before the next escalation (which will be occassioned by the next muslim-terrorist calamity that we all know is coming) - in the judgement and long-view of history.
One of the most intriguing and perpetually enthralling acts of displacement for me, is the semi-annual displeasure and protest lodged against Tony Blair and George Bush from the salons of Europe over their public pronouncements of faith, whilst from the sermons of some of Europe's grandest mosques - the imams bay for blood. "Europe's grandest mosques" - I can't believe I just said that. And I can't believe its real. What I won't do is pretend reality conforms to my desire to live a life of peaceful coexistence with everyone. That's called "denial", and it ain't just a river in Africa.
Which brings me to point number 2: YOU. Many thanks for all the kind words, well-wishes, and words of support. I accept greatfully on behalf of all who labor in uniform. But this epiphany occured to me just the other day. This war isn't about us. Its about YOU - the polity of free peoples of the free west - and how long you can stomach our maiming and deaths. I said before the soldiery is unflinching, and it is. But this war isn't about how many schools we can build and Iran-funded arms factories we raid and destroy. It is MUCH larger. Iraq is but a theater. There are several FRONTS that span the globe. This is about you discovering Western purpose again. I'm talking about the ultimate cure for your boredom.
The West is not an accident, and the way we live in America is not the natural product of things nor the natural evolution of the state. If we don't collectively decide that is worth defending - then we are all jihadist-fodder. Win or lose - this doesn't end in Iraq. And these are not Iraqi Vietcong - in a particular time and circumstance. These are desert warriors from the 7th century, liscensed to perpetuate any barbarity in the name of advancing their geopolitical project of 7th century Arab supremacy. (some call it Islam). They have surged and stalled for 14 centuries, and they are again surging - globe-wide - for the first time. Because they smell blood, and weakness. And there is weakness to go around. Because we decided history was over, history decided to stop by for tea.
The Jihadis haven't the knowledge, nor the desire for the knowledge, of the tehnological superiority that undergirds our civilization - except in furtherance of the goal of wiping us away - and with us - all the history that's transpired between the 7th and 21st centuries. They want jets and nukes, but not the society that produces them. Cavalry charges and scimitars would do, but one company of the 1st Armored Division would have the lot of them. So to hell with the superior western armies - they'll take the cities that support them - and that IS our achilles heel. (or so they think).
A conventional war between any muslim polity or amalgamated society and that of a western one is a foregone conclusion (see Israel). So this is war by other means. And in "other means" we've said alot. There are means we won't use. For Islam, the advance of Islam transcends all morality. (do some reading.)
And the biggest, yet curiously least talked about, FRONT is a demographic one. In Mark Steyn's peerless new book, "America Alone", he writes that history begins with a joke: "Knock-Knock." ("Who's there?") And apart from all debate, apart from the musings of anyone about the future, a fundamental demographic questions precludes all political ones. (Who's there?)Several European countries large and small are on trend to be majority muslim by mid-century, which I fear will cast all our "fiddling" about tolerance and multi-culti pablum in its starkest relief, in retrospect. European women are having something on the order of 1.4 kids per lifetime, whilst muslim immigrants to Europe are having around 3.5. Its not a foregone conclusion that all those muslim kids will turn out to be Khalid Sheik Mohammeds or Mohammed Attas - but what's our bet-hedge? Anyone care to bet 3/5 of them won't be named Mohammed and abhor pork?
There's enough in this paragraph requiring several posts to explicate - but I bring up this one because it struck me just the other day. I know Jews that eat pork. I'm not suggesting bacon-eating be a requirement for citizenship (not yet, anyway), just that I've observed that of all the "assimilated" muslims - from local Iraqi national-hires that notionally support the coalition to the most observably assimilated British, Canadian and American muslims - none will touch pork. Situations have arisen where I or someone else runs out to the dining facility (for American troops and contractors) to illicitly abscond with food for one of our translators or support staff (either wittingly or unwittingly including a roast or somesuch, or a dish that includes material from a pig) and the meal is impolitely refused by a "starving" complainant.
These things make an impression on you. I don't like escargo and bean sprouts, but if it was the only thing on offer . . .
And forget the multi-culti pablum. Pork sustains and has sustained innumerable human populations throughout the ages, much as rice has. It nourishes and it tastes good. The arguments for pork are legion - the arguments against - a religious edict.
The middle-east is expressly non-vegetarian, and I won't entertain arguments of cleanliness either - not from a people who eat lamb meat from an open, dry-air stall in 140 degree heat, with flies in abundance and rivers of freshly-slaughtered lambs blood running beneath their feet mixing with raw human sewage.
No, this is not on the surface significant. Its what the question begs that enthralls. What else have they not internalized? What else do they expressly reject, and why? Islamic civilization can never, has never, and will never produce an America or a Netherlands. So the question that plagues me is: "What do they reject in Islamic civilization?" That's not a ridiculous extrapolation either. Just an easily observable and undeniable phenomenon. Much easier to observe and judge than say their commitment to "freedom of conscience" . "Lip service" is cheap and easy, but not when it comes to pork.
Three: The new plan. It will pay dividends in the near-term. It has already. The Mahdi army has gone back indoors, according to reports. But we haven't fixed the polity that produces and supports them. Or the Sunni terrorists. The unspoken truth is, we'd settle for any strongman who could restore public order now. That's what its going to take. How long does anyone suppose a prime minister will sit atop the ship of state, without the US guarding the helm? My sincere hope is that the President's most optimistic projections bear out. But I wouldn't put any of my money on it.
I am heartened that Gen Petraeus is taking the helm - this is another correct step. Gen Petraeus is an out-of-the-box thinker, and a deeply conscientious man possessed of an analytical mind, by all accounts. That bodes well for "progress" in the next tour - but what then? We're not restoring French citizens to their pre-vichy rights and responsibilities - we are committing heresy in the eyes of Islam. There will be no progress here until there is progress in Islam. And I don't know how that can be accomplished or even if its hypothetically possible. This Iraq War's larger goal is to goad Islam down that path, I believe. But I find it increasingly difficult to accept the premise that change can happen WITHIN Islam.
More later . . .