Friday, August 20, 2004

Still Here - Observations in the last few days

Sorry for the delay in posting. I want to continue the review of Islam, but I have been very busy working in Sunny San Diego this week so not enough time to read, analyze and make intelligent (hopefully) commentary.

In the meantime, I will just address a few things. First, some of the military blogs that I read regularly have gone silent for the last few days. A lot of things going on.

On Najaf...

This is my take on the situation. Muqtada Al-Sadr is either a schizophrenic lunatic or is not completely in charge of the situation as some would like us to think. You can tell by the almost hourly, "we will negotiate, no we won't; yes we will; victory or martyrdom (allahu akbar and the ghost dance); we are ordering the militia to leave; no we're not; yes we are; send delegates for peace negotiations; we will not meet with delegates; etc, etc, etc".

Some probably want to believe that the guy is simply crazy or is playing for time. Both might be true, but I also believe that Muqty is not in charge of everything and everyone. Obviously, some in his group (whether that includes him or not, we don't know) would like to treat for peace and maybe become part of the political process. They realize that they have tied their boat to a fast moving, out of control, suicide tug and are considering the best way to survive might be to jump ship.

The others, who want a confrontation and are praying that it starts a big civil war and helps catapult them to power or allows them to break off a part of Iraq as it's own entity or client state of Iran, are many smaller militias with their own commanders and leaders and their own agendas. This is pretty obvious because some heed the command for a ceasefire and the others continue to commit atrocities against civilians and fight the US military and ING.

Muqty is not in control of all the horses pulling the stagecoach. You ever notice how he asks for negotiations and suddenly some group of militia martyrs immediately starts some sort of offensive, then, right afterwards, the guy issues some bizarre "victory or death" statement? Sounds like he is getting backed into a corner by more people than the US Marines. Like he doesn't want to lose face or appear like he's not in control, so he immediately has to back up and claim responsibility. Just like those idiot terrorist groups who fight over who was responsible for the last bombing on through internet website releases.

This means that the negotiation is accomplishing something. Split the group. Make them distrust each other. Keep them trapped within their little world. They will start becoming suspicious of each other and blame each other for their loses.

Even if we can only break off 1/4 of his group, that's 1/4 less we are fighting. Better yet, let them fight amongst themselves. Maybe they'll kill each other? Probably not enough to really make a difference, but anything is better than none.

On Fallujah...

Finally, Major Dave Bellon over at Greenside has posted some information about the situation in Fallujah. A few lines and then I think I will leave you to read his website yourself. The interesting thing about Major Dave is that he posts few and far between, but the information is always excellent. When I read his letters they remind me of the ones I've read in historical reference material from the Civil War, in almost the exact tone of letters written by Maj Gen. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain during his career as an officer in the United States Army of the Union.

Major Dave, Aug 17, 2004, writes to his father:

Dad -

You probably have not heard but the Regiment has been involved in a fight on the outside of Fallujah for the past week.

On August 9th, the insurgents in the city kidnapped the two Iraqi National Guard battalion commanders within the city subsequently killing at least one of them. It is another clear example of the savagery of the enemy here. The city is now without any coalition influence other than our fires. The local militia that was created as a solution to the April fighting has become a defensive army that is in collusion with the insurgents. The police are complicit with the enemy and the city is literally run by terrorists.

The Iraqi National Guard battalion commander that was killed was Lt Col Sulaiman Hamad Ftikan. We knew him as Sulaiman. He was the closest thing to a true patriot and leader we have found who is actually from the local Falluja area. (...)

(...)He was tortured and beaten to death. He was so disfigured by the torture that his friends could not bear to look at his body - this from a people who have seen their share of death and torture.(...)

(...)With everything that I know, I cannot fathom a resolution of this problem that does not include us being allowed to take the city down once and for all. (...)Too many good men have been taken into the town and beaten savagely because they are trying to be honest policemen or soldiers. (...)

(...)However, we have had bodies show up with various unimaginable wounds including some that have had their faces melted off by welding torches. The enemy is savage and will never come around to cooperate with the coalition or the new Iraqi government.(...)

(...)We immediately cut any ties with the city and moved forces to the outskirts. The Marines have been fighting ever since. We have bombed, sniped and fired more tank main gun and small arms that can be counted. I have no idea how many we have killed but it is significant.

The Marines continue their heroics in ways that I am unable to describe but I will give you a vignette that is typical of what they are doing in 115 degree heat in full body armor every day.(...)

Go to Greenside, Aug. 17 to find out what the Marines have been doing.

Some closing comments from Major Dave Bellon:

That is just one example of what the Marines are doing. I could share with you accounts of severely wounded Sailors and Marines insisting that they can still hold a weapon and are still "in the fight" and other lesser wounded Marines refusing to be evaced. There are Marines who exit friendly lines everyday and commit acts of untold bravery that would inspire you as much as they humble me.

It would seem that the only chance of true resolution of the "Falluja problem" will be to finish these guys once and for all. The difference between now and April is that the majority of Iraqis that we meet ask us to enter the city. They are tired of the lawless hell that exists inside the city and are literally willing to have us rubble it to save it. I know it sounds strange but it is the reality here. (...)

Interestingly enough while we have been keeping the enemy bottled up and destroying him in Fallujah, the attacks on supply convoys and on Marines have dropped off outside the city. If we take our boot off their neck now, no doubt we will see a return to enemy attacks in other parts of our area. (...)

Anyone who believes that we will extricate ourselves from the current situation in Fallujah without decisive action should ask if "conversation" or "negotiation" will work with a guy who comes to Iraq for Jihad and dies with the last thought of trying to kill Americans. (...)

(...)The Marine Battalion down in Najaf is also from our Regiment. I was fortunate enough to work with them last year as they were on our southern flank. I cannot say enough good things about them. If they and the soldiers working with them are given the authority to do so, they will destroy the threat in Najaf. Hopefully once they finish we will be allowed to destroy the threat here. If we are not, we will continue fencing with them for the foreseeable future.

Lt. Col Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Fredricksburg, 1862:

My Dearest Fanny, We have been here a week + are waiting nobody knows for what. All sorts of rumors arise of course, but our business is to obey orders + it becomes us to be patient as well as obedient. There is a great army here you may be sure+ something will be done with it,I have no doubt. Saturday I rode over to the front, on the banks of the Rappahanock, only a few rods from the Rebels opposite in Fredericksburg. I rode along for some miles,+ of course I had no difficulty in seeing the Rebels. They were busy as bees throwing up fortifications + planting cannon. They kept as much out of sight as possible in order not to show their force+ movements. I did not feel fully comfortable,I own,in full view+reach of every one of those ugly looking cannon they are training to slaughter us by& by,+some of the Rebel rifles looked saucy(?),(...)

The distress is great now.Our generals are kind enough to place guards around every house that is inhabited + Rebel property is carefully protected from pillage. Our Quartermasters it is true take whatever we must have + give receipts for it which are presented to the Govt, + pay obtained on them I suppose. I do not think the Rebels are treated very severely however. If this were really war we should not leave rabid secessionists within our lines to observe + give information while we protect them from loss or harm. I do not mean to question the propriety of the present policy. But regardless in a merely military point of view, the war would seem to be much more effectively carried forward if we should leave no Treachery in the midst of us or behind us- nor anything to aid support or strengthen the enemy.(...)

In that way we should weaken+ crowd the enemy + at the same time strengthen + advance ourselves. Of course the country would be laid waste absolutely, but it would be war. We have not got over the old idea of suppressing a mob. Whatever cruelty there might seem to be in the course I indicated would be countervailed if the great saving of life + treasure in a speedier ending of the war. (...)

Maj Gen Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain later wrote these words regarding his fight to hold Little Round Top in the battle of Gettysburg, PA:

How men held on, each one knows—not I. But manhood commands admiration. There was one fine young fellow, who had been cut down early in the fight with a ghastly wound across his forehead, and who I thought might possibly be saved with prompt attention. So I had sent him back to our little field hospital, at least to die in peace. Within a half-hour, in a desperate rally I saw that noble youth amidst the rolling smoke as an apparition from the dead, with bloody bandage for the only covering of his head, in the thick of the fight, high-borne and pressing on as they that shall see death no more. I shall know him when I see him again, on whatever shore!

Maj Gen. Joshua Lawrence, Memorial Day, 1897:

Heroism is latent in every human soul.... However humble or unknown, they (the veterans) have renounced what are accounted pleasures and cheerfully undertaken all self-denials; privations, toils, dangers, sufferings, sicknesses, mutilations, life-long hurts and losses, death itself—For some great good, dimly seen but dearly held.

1 comment:

Tammi said...


I had not seen his website. Thank for the posting it. I can see where I'll be doing my reading tonite.