We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Yon,Roggio, and now Gordon are writing themselves in history. That of course should forever be Mr. Yon, Mr. Roggio, and Mr. Gordon as what they are doing is very,very brave.
Not being there it is of course impossible for the reader to know if the reporting is spot on but at least we are getting a sense of the arena.
One part caught my eye.
LTC Smiley, talked about how his soldiers shot some terrorists today (June 20); on different occasions today, women and children came out and “gave aid” to the wounded terrorists.
My immediate, and I mean immediate reaction was that those women and children should have been wasted right there, there corpses left to rot in the sun.
If you are going to run an operation to wipe out the enemy you must also wipe out his supporting infrastructure. In Vietnam you learned very quickly that a child smaller than the AK-47 they were toting could still pull the trigger and kill you dead. No quarter.
All in all fabulous reporting from the heart of the beast. Thank you gentlemen one and all and eternal gratitude to our warriors.
Those fine reporters of the old, 'get in the thick of it and just report what you see' are providing more to us than three decades of the MSM. Michael Yon, Bill Roggio, Bill Ardolino, John Burns ( http://ajacksonian.blogspot.com/2007/04/lone-voice-outside-echo-chamber-mr.html ), DJ Elliott, Michael Gordon... these are the Ernie Pyles of Iraq. We now have a view of 30 years of despotic tyranny added into more years of authoritarian rule, and chaos from changing Empires before that to see what the results are upon a society ( http://ajacksonian.blogspot.com/2007/01/building-mosaic-of-iraq.html ). Looking at the decades of failed foreign policy, military policy and international work done in Iraq and the ME generally, the depth of that failure is now evident at the one place where all the major social and societal crossroads move through, and that is Iraq.
While I do not deny that the Cold War was a major and vital conflict, for all its glacial solidity, there are many points where the USSR did not really care what happened to the people there and saw them as disposable chess pieces to undermine the West. That mentality when reflected on the Western side no longer supported individualism, liberty and freedom, and the 'Realism' that resulted of economic stability created the problems we see today because it would not address societies, just money flow. Now we pay for that in societies that do not even support individual liberty and government held accountable to society... that is toxic in the ME and here at home, too. Iraq may be none too peaceful for 20 or 30 years, but it may be more stable once the folks there begin to figure out that they really do have to figure it out. Unfortunately at our end of things, it looks peaceful but the glacial stability of sinecured government is creating deep cracks in Western outlook and ideology that can either be addressed or see us fall into a less peaceful and less stable time.
Fighting terrorism is not a 'long war' of the chilly variety, and the chances of ending it are just the same as ending organized crime, which the West has been going after for 50 years or so, without any end in sight. The laws for this are actually on the books to do that and it does not even require any 'nuance' to use them. ( http://ajacksonian.blogspot.com/2007/06/why-do-we-refuse-to-call-terrorism-for.html )
Getting Iraq right is necessary to try and get a more stable world and seeing if we can come together to identify the ills seen in a non-PC way. Stability does not make peace nor peace stability... the 'stability' of the Cold War have given us cold hatred now turned hot and a very unstable world... we can learn why that is, but that takes time to identify where we are and how we got here. I am having less respect for the 20th century the more I look at it. The advances in technology and science are noteworthy, but the backsliding of our understanding of human liberty are lethal to us and the world. We can dig our heels in, in that far off place called Iraq, and stop being on the defensive about these things. Or we can let slip and assure a dismal future due to our lack of wanting liberty and freedom for ourselves and mean it... in a far off place that has only known the bitter sunshine of tyranny, and no shade from the tree of liberty.
"... the backsliding of our understanding of human liberty are lethal to us and the world."
Just as it is lethal to socialism, communism, totalitarianism... on and on as the still-quoted, more notorious, philosophers failed to understand.
Nice analysis, AJ. Also noted: "...having less respect for the 20th century..." The more I read, the more I feel this, too. Let's go back to Rome and study its downfall while we're looking back. We could learn if we'd take the wide view.
We could, indeed, learn much by looking to history. I really did not expect going into Iraq or Afghanistan that an end to major military activity would be done on anything less than 8-10 years at a minimum. COIN work in Philippines (US 1898-1913), Haiti (US failed 1915-34), Malay (UK 1899-1902), Arabia (UK 1955-67), Algeria (FR 1954-62), Afghanistan (USSR failed 1982-89) all seem to give lower and higher level bounds for these things. The early Malay work at simply breaking up populations is a bit harsh, and trying to work in situ with populations puts a longer period into play. And just because it is a short term 'success' does not guarantee a long-term success, either.
The one thing that is blindingly obvious is the inability of modern education to get across why wars happen, the lessons learned in trying to formulate peace or even stability, and what necessary basis are needed for a functional society in a post-war setup. To do that one does have to end up going back to the beginning of recorded history with Troy and some conflicts caught up in the modern Korean peninsula around that same era which is how far back some of the histories go there.
The 20th century appears to be a hot house abberation in human history, and terrorism is dragging the entire world back before the 20th century and applying older standards to our quite ignorant societies. We can learn what it means to be free and sustain liberty, but these strange notions of Nation States being absolute powers needs to go. They are constructs of mankind, and are used to regularize affairs. They have utility and function... the moment you try to make them 'good' or 'bad', then the function gets corrupted to the bias and that function is no longer well enacted. If we enjoy the fact that the Nation State offers protection to liberty and freedom inside the State, then we had best stop trying to make it into something it isn't. Because it hasn't been working out too well... and we are at risk to that now more than ever.