Iraqi leader: U.S. raid that killed 2 breached accord –

Iraqi leader: U.S. raid that killed 2 breached accord –

Let me get this straight. The Iraqi government accuses the U.S. military of participating in a raid without authorization, which resulted in the deaths of 2 people: “Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is accusing U.S. troops of violating the security agreement between the two countries after a raid in Wasit province Sunday that left two people dead.”

However, the U.S. states the raid was “fully coordinated and approved by the Iraqi government.” So whom do we believe, especially since “Al-Maliki has asked Gen. Raymond Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, to release the suspects detained in the raid, and to hand over ‘those who committed the crime’ — or U.S. troops — to the Iraqi judiciary, state television reported.”?

Here’s the answer: “Iraqi State TV reported that Iraq’s defense ministry ordered the arrest of two Iraqi commanders in Kut who apparently allowed the U.S. military to carry out the raid.”

So if the U.S. conducted an unauthorized raid, why did Iraq arrest two of its own commanders for providing authorization to the U.S. for the raid?

This kind of behavior reminds me of the former Iraqi Information Minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf who is famous for such gems as: “There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!”

Thoughts on War

I’ve never been in a fight in my life – I had the occasional squabble with siblings when I was growing up but I’ve never really fought anyone, ever. I despise conflict and ill-feelings. I believe in cooperation over competition. I also hate war and the suffering it causes. I think there is little on earth more wasteful of life than war. I wish that all conflicts in life could be ended without war. However, and this is a big however, I also recognize that war is sometimes and unfortunately very necessary.

There will always be those who believe that violence is the only way to further their ideals of oppression and restriction of freedoms. Some people believe that violence is the only way to solve their perceived problems. As long as such people exist, there will always be the need to respond in kind. We also need people who are willing to respond in kind. I’m not one of those people. I’ll fight if called upon to fight, I will even volunteer to fight if I feel that that is the course my life is supposed to take, but I will not start the fight. There are few people who hate war more than those who have to fight the wars because they are most affected by war. There will always be some among all people who enjoy warmongering, but I believe them to be relatively few.

For me the greatest anti-war sermons have been preached not by war protesters but by those who simply report on or depict war without trying to promote an anti-war agenda. The strongest arguments made against war are in the simple yet horrendous destruction of the lives of so many people. That is why some of the strongest anti-war messages are good war movies. The anti-war protests on the 60s and 70s did far more damage to our country than good, in my opinion. I deal often with people who served in Vietnam then had to come home to a country that demonized what the soldiers were doing over there. A significant portion of these veterans continue to suffer psychologically to this day because of the ill treatment and hate they encountered upon returning home from their military service. Most of them were just trying to do the jobs they were called upon to do in the best and nicest way possible. By no means were all the soldiers saints – many soldiers in Vietnam were involved in immoral acts, drug abuse, and criminal behavior – but most were just there doing their jobs. They were normal people – neighbors, friends, and family – who were often asked to do horrible things (all war is horrible).

U.S. soldiers repeatedly go out of their way to minimize innocent causalities, even to their own detriment. This trait is thankfully not unique to Americans. It’s found in all cultures, religions, nations, and peoples.

Some may wonder how I can be anti-war yet still support the war in Iraq. Sometimes we are called upon to do hard things. Abraham Lincoln was anti-war, yet he was a great president who endured the hardest of wars – that between friends; he did not flinch when hard decisions needed to be made. General Douglas MacArthur was similarly anti-war if his statements before Congress and West Point are to be believed, yet he was a great general [I recognize that some of his war tactics were severe but he wanted to do what he thought would end war the fastest (while hopefully preventing future wars as well)]. It’s not hypocrisy, it’s necessity and reality. I’m not comparing myself to Lincoln or MacArthur, I’m merely making the point that you can be anti-war but fight wars. You hate what you have to do but do your duty because it is the right thing to do.

Old Soldiers Never Die

Continuing on with my previous Gen. MacArthur post, I am posting some of MacArthur’s famous last speech to Congress. It is very relevant today, especially since we are a nation at war. It is a war that transcends partisanship, regardless of your feelings about whether or not the wars we fight were justified.

I stand on this rostrum with a sense of deep humility and great pride — humility in the wake of those great American architects of our history who have stood here before me; pride in the reflection that this forum of legislative debate represents human liberty in the purest form yet devised. Here are centered the hopes and aspirations and faith of the entire human race. I do not stand here as advocate for any partisan cause, for the issues are fundamental and reach quite beyond the realm of partisan consideration. They must be resolved on the highest plane of national interest if our course is to prove sound and our future protected. I trust, therefore, that you will do me the justice of receiving that which I have to say as solely expressing the considered viewpoint of a fellow American….

Efforts have been made to distort my position. It has been said, in effect, that I was a warmonger. Nothing could be further from the truth. I know war as few other men now living know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long advocated its complete abolition, as its very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a means of settling international disputes. Indeed, on the second day of September, nineteen hundred and forty-five, just following the surrender of the Japanese nation on the Battleship Missouri, I formally cautioned as follows:

Men since the beginning of time have sought peace. Various methods through the ages have been attempted to devise an international process to prevent or settle disputes between nations. From the very start workable methods were found in so far as individual citizens were concerned, but the mechanics of an instrumentality of larger international scope have never been successful. Military alliances, balances of power, Leagues of Nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blocks out this alternative. We have had our last chance. If we will not devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature, and all material and cultural developments of the past 2000 years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.

But once war is forced upon us, there is no other alternative than to apply every available means to bring it to a swift end.

War’s very object is victory, not prolonged indecision.

In war there is no substitute for victory.

Gen. MacArthur ended his speech with these immortal words:

I am closing my 52 years of military service. When I joined the Army, even before the turn of the century, it was the fulfillment of all of my boyish hopes and dreams. The world has turned over many times since I took the oath on the plain at West Point, and the hopes and dreams have long since vanished, but I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barrack ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that “old soldiers never die; they just fade away.”

And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty.

Good Bye.

The full text of the speech as well as an audio recording of it are available here.