This is an old post that I have brought back to the top because of the indictment of the Haditha Marines see Michelle Malkin, BlackFive. I still stand by my position. I have no special knowledge of these events, but I hope that these Marines are not being made political scapegoats. If they murdered innocent civilians then they deserve to be punished. However, I think that they have earned the right to be presumed innocent until all of the facts have been put forth.
Tripe is defined by Webster’s dictionary as the stomach tissue of a ruminant and especially of the ox used as food . It is basically bits of the stomach of certain animals which can be used for food. To me its just plain distasteful. Much like the media’s attempt to compare the death of 24 Iraqi’s in city of Haditha on November 2005 to the killing of around 300 Vietnamese in March 1968 in the village of My Lai.
Why the press is so intent upon comparing Iraq to Vietnam is beyond my understanding. It may be that Vietnam has become the lexicon of the political left for the failure of the use of force as an element of American foreign policy or it may be out of a hatred of any use of the American military forces or it may just be due to a longing to return to good ‘ole days of burning draft cards and bras, peace, love and hippie camps. Whatever it is, I just do not get it.
On Monday June 26, 2006 The Shreveport Times ran an article by Wiley Hilburn, titled “Haditha: In a war like this, it was inevitable”. Now let me state that I like reading Mr. Hilburn’s columns and that while I do not agree with many of his political stances, I still enjoy his stories of Ruston and the Waffle House coffee drinking gang. However, his stance on the war in Iraq seems to be born more from political dislike of those who are running the war then for the war itself. I came to this conclusion because I can think of no other reason for the obvious bias contained in the story.
In the second paragraph, the 24 Iraqis are proclaimed to be “innocent Iraqi civilains”. Now I will go so far as to concede that any child who was killed in the fighting on that day was “innocent” but I will also give our Marines the benefit of the doubt that any child killed by their actions was killed accidently and as a result of taking the fight to the enemy/defending themselves. Remember these are insurgents (or you can call them thugs, murderers, killers, or terrorists) that we are fighting. They do not wear uniforms, they seek refuge and coordinate attacks from mosques, homes and hospitals. They do not follow the rules of war, they kill, beat, behead and booby trap the bodies of captured soldiers, and they have no qualms about detonating bombs in a market place full of people shopping for dinner. Other than the children, I am not sure how anyone can state, at this point, that any of the adults killed were “civilians”. Were there any terrorists killed that day? I assume that someone must have been shooting at the Marines for them to return fire. After all, as Mr. Hilburn states this was an “insurgent infested Iraqi city.” Certainly, in a city overrun with insurgents and full of Iraqi's who view us as Crusaders, the Marines would not be allowed to just run around willy nilly killing innocent women and children without at least one of the brave insurgents popping off a few rounds in their defense. Oh and speaking of terrorists, the source for the video of the dead “innocent civilians” had been arrested on a least two occasions, prior to this incident, by coalition forces for suspicion of terrorist activity and is currently in custody for the same. But we must trust what he says because it rounds off a square peg so that it can fit into a preconceived round hole.
In paragraph five more unfounded conclusions are used by Mr. Hilburn to substantiate his desire to color the truth with blurry shades of accuracy. The insurgents, who are suddenly referred to as guerrillas - a much more romantic term -,are “nameless, faceless, fierce ...” I seem to remember some guy name Zarquawi, I saw some pictures of him, and there seems to be a new guy named Abu Ayyub al-Masri, there are even some pictures of him. It would also seem to me, if I were an American soldier, that anyone digging a hole to plant an IED, or carrying the sniper rifle of an ambushed American Soldier, or firing a self-propelled grenade or maybe even pointing an AK-47 in my direction would have pretty much identified themselves as the enemy. The only time that the insurgents are faceless is after they have crossed swords with a United States Marine.
Let’s not stop here, rather lets go on to paragraph six where there is no “real sanctuary for U.S. troops” or “where the general Iraqi population is more hostile or indifferent” to American troops. This comment is made despite the fact that attacks against U.S. troops are declining every month and cooperation from the general public in weeding out the insurgents increases every month. Oh, there I go again, I also forget that every credible politician in the newly “elected” Iraqi government and even the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani himself wants the U.S. to maintain its troop levels until the Iraqi government gets its feet under it.
One of my favorite quotes by Mr. Hilburn is in paragraph ten. It reads, “The longer this war lasts, the less Americans and Arabs are going to like each other, period. Eventually, hate will rule.” Do what? I have always felt that you pretty much have to hate someone to crash two airplanes full of “innocent civilians” into two buildings full of “innocent civilians”, crash a third airplane full of “innocent civilians” into a military complex full of “innocent civilians” and non-combat soldiers and to crash a fourth airplane full of “innocent civilians” into a field in Pennsylvania. I guess hate really was not ruling until we sent our troops to Iraq to free the majority of 25 million Iraqi’s from their friendly dictator who had a nasty penchant for invading his neighboring Arab countries and murdering his own people. Bad America, Bad America!
The really good stuff starts in paragraph 11. After spending the first ten paragraphs ginning up the facts to make the war in Iraq look like a quagmire, he states, “Iraq reeks more and more of Vietnam.” At this point we are reminded of the My Lai massacre and the killing of more than 300 civilians. Oh but glory, in paragraph 12 he proclaims that “I’m not comparing Haditha to My Lai.” At this have to call bull. Mr. Hilburn spent the first half of the article comparing Iraq to Vietnam through the use of the same cliches and suppositions found in 1980 war movies and Democratic Party conventions, the title states that it was inevitable because of the type of war and then he segues into My Lai. Don’t feed me tripe and call it filet mignon.
In paragraph 13, lucky 13, we discover that the Third Marine Battalion is on its third tour in Iraq, so we are to conclude that the Marines involved were on their third tour. I have yet to find anything that confirms this suggestion . Even if it is true, every soldier that I have spoken with who has served more than one tour wears their multiple tours as badges of honor. When you meet one that spent time in Afghanistan as well, they beam with enough pride to power a small city. The facts, however, keep the square peg round and must be ignored. We also learn from Mr. Hilburn the fact that the only good news out of Iraq in months was that Zarquawi was killed. I guess if all you read are AP reports, Reuters, and the New York Times you would come to the same conclusion. I suggest that Mr. Hilburn try to read some of the military blogs like Greyhawk, Blackfive, Iraq Now, and Mudville Gazette. Oh, and do not forget Michael Yon and Bill Roggio. He may actually read some good news about our men and women who are serving their country.
In the final paragraphs we finally learn that Mr. Hilburn’s “I support the soldiers, but not the war” mantra exist so that he can lambast the Bush administration for not being omnipresent and anticipating every bump in the war. We get the same old, “we invaded Iraq on what amounted to false pretenses and without an exit strategy.” The soldiers believe in the mission, the Iraqi’s believe in the mission and the majority of Americans believe in the mission – Mr. Hilburn does not - that much is clear. I’m not comparing his arguments to tripe, not at all, but frustration with a media that ignores the facts can create an atmosphere of misinformation and can sow the seeds of discontent. That my friend is dangerous.
I suggest that we allow justice to take its course before we start condemning our troops as murderers. At a minimum, let us give our soldiers the same courtesy that we give the worse elements of our society - the presumption that they are innocent until proven guilty. Let us not churn the facts, at the expense of our Marines, to try to turn public opinion against the war just because we do not like the politics of our elected leaders. Our country is achieving great things in the Middle East and if given time and support I am sure that history, which has not yet been written, will demonstrate our success.
See Shreveport Times