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FACT VS FICTION : A REPORT FROM THE FRONT (IRAQ CIRCA January 2006)
The American Enterprise Magazine ^ | January 2006 | Karl Zinmeister

Posted on 01/31/2006 9:19:38 AM PST by SirLinksalot

Facts vs. Fiction: A Report from the Front

By Karl Zinsmeister

Your editor has just returned from another month in Iraq—my fourth extended tour in the last two and a half years. During November and December I joined numerous American combat operations, including the largest air assault since the beginning of the war, walked miles of streets and roads, entered scores of homes, listened to hundreds of Iraqis, observed voting at a dozen different polling sites, and endured my third roadside ambush. With this latest firsthand experience, here are answers to some common queries about how the war is faring.

Has the Iraq war been too costly?

Well, nearly every war is riddled with disappointment and pain, Iraq certainly included. But judged fairly, Iraq has been much less costly and debacle-ridden than the Civil War, World War II, Korea, and the Cold War—each considered in retrospect to have been noble successes.

President Lincoln had to try five different commanders before settling on Ulysses Grant, and even Grant stumbled many times on the way to victory. The Union Army suffered 390,000 dead in four years, with fully 29 percent of the men who served being killed or wounded in what some critics claimed was “an unnecessary war.”

World War II was a serial bloodbath. Battles like Iwo Jima, Anzio, Ardennes, and Okinawa each killed, in a matter of days and weeks, several times the number of soldiers we have lost in Iraq. Intelligence was wrong. Planning failed. Brutal collateral damage was done to civilian non-combatants. Soldiers were killed by friendly fire. POWs were sometimes executed. Military and civilian leaders miscalculated repeatedly. During WWII, 7 percent of our G.I.s were killed or wounded.

Korea was first lost before it could be re-taken, at great cost, and thanks to political interference the war ended in a fruitless stalemate. Fully 8 percent of the American soldiers who fought on the Korean peninsula were killed or wounded.

The Cold War spawned by President Roosevelt’s expedient alliance with Stalin and other communists brought totalitarian bleakness and death to millions, endless proxy wars that consumed hundreds of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of American and allied lives, and a near-nuclear exchange during President Kennedy’s watch.

Yet ugly as they were, each of the wars above eventually made the world a less bloody place by removing tyrants and transforming cultures. Those same goals drive our war against Middle Eastern extremism that is now centered in Iraq.

In Iraq, 4 percent of our soldiers have been killed or wounded. Those losses are lower than we suffered in nine previous wars. The Civil War, Mexican War, War of Independence, Korean War, WWI, WWII, Vietnam, and Philippine War were all half-again or more as costly as Iraq has been.

But aren’t our losses mounting?

In the last ten months of 2003, Iraq hostilities claimed 324 U.S. service members. In 2004, 710 were lost. In 2005, total fatalities were 712. Troops wounded in action are down from 7,920 in 2004 to 5,961 in 2005.

Deaths of foreign civilians in Iraq have also tumbled: In 2004, 196 were killed. In 2005 the toll was 104.

Economic losses are also moderating. Attacks carried out on oil and gas facilities in Iraq can serve as an indicator of this. There were 146 such attacks in 2004, versus 101 in 2005.

Meanwhile, the estimated number of terrorists killed or detained in Iraq was 24,470 in 2004, and 26,500 in 2005.

How is the morale of our soldiers holding up?

Accepting the possibility of being hurt is a part of security work. It’s easy to overlook the reality that 800 public safety officers have been killed in the line of duty right here on our own home shores since the beginning of the Iraq war. This summer, the U.S. general in charge of our National Guard put his Iraq casualties in some perspective: “I lose, unfortunately, more people through private automobile accidents and motorcycle accidents over the same period of time.”

While always wrenching, the risks in Iraq have been overblown. And the morale of soldiers, in my experience, is much higher than one might expect. Other journalists who have spent weeks and weeks with soldiers, like Robert Kaplan, have similarly observed that our G.I.s are generally not disenchanted, but remain very spirited.

The proof of the pudding: Individuals who have actually served in Iraq and Afghanistan are signing up again at record rates. Re-enlistment totals in the active Army over the last three years are more than 6 percent above targets. Over a third of Army re-enlistments now take place in combat zones.

Today’s supposed hemorrhaging in military manpower is mostly a fiction manufactured by the media. Moderate shortfalls in recruiting new bodies have hit reserve and National Guard units. The latest Army Reserve recruiting class, for instance, totaled only 96 percent of the goal.

All active duty branches, however, are exceeding their recruiting requirements in the latest monthly figures from the Department of Defense (released in December). The Army and Marine Corps (who are doing most of the hard service in Iraq) were each at 105 percent of their quotas. After a dip early in 2005, the Army has met or exceeded its goals for new recruits in every month since June. One source of pressure on the active-duty Army is the process of expanding from 482,000 soldiers to 512,000, as a dozen new combat brigades are added to the force.

We are at war, and our Army and Marines are being used hard. But there is no crisis of alienated servicemen.

But don’t American combat losses fall disproportionately on minorities and the poor?

That’s another myth. Though blacks and Hispanics make up 15 percent and 18 percent of America’s young-adult population respectively, they have each represented less than 11 percent of the fatalities in Iraq. Fully 75 percent of the soldiers killed in Iraq have been whites (who make up 61 percent of our military-age population).

Demographic data show, furthermore, that U.S. service-members come from a cross-section of American society, and basically match the wider population in family educational and socioeconomic status.

If there is an imbalance in who is carrying the military load in Iraq it is between Red and Blue America. In two years of fighting in Iraq, 33 percent of U.S. military fatalities came from rural areas, though only 20 percent of the U.S. population is rural. Both city dwellers (29 percent of the U.S. population, 26 percent of Iraq fatalities) and suburbanites (51 percent of the population, 41 percent of the dead) are underrepresented among today’s war casualties.

John Kerry recently claimed U.S. soldiers are “terrorizing” Iraqis. The #2 Democrat in the Senate, Richard Durbin, compared American fighters to “Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime—Pol Pot or others—that had no concern for human beings.” Ted Kennedy suggested G.I.s torture like Saddam Hussein. What have you observed?

None of the above. I mostly see soldiers fighting with startling care and commitment. Take, for instance, Staff Sergeant Jamie McIntyre of Queens, New York, who recently had this to say:

“I look at faces and see fellow human beings, and I say, ‘O.K. This is the sacrifice I have to make to bring them freedom.’ That’s why I joined the military. Not for the college money, for doing what’s right. Fighting under our flag. That’s what our flag stands for. I believe in that stuff. Yeah, we might lose American soldiers, but they are going to lose a society, lose a people. You’ve got to look at the bigger picture. I’ve lost friends, and it hurts. It definitely hurts. But that’s even more reason why I say stay. It’s something that has to be done. If we don’t do it, who will?”

An e-mail I received on December 26 from a friend serving in Baghdad provides two good examples of the sort of disciplined dedication one sees regularly in Iraq:

“We lost a young soldier…. This soldier didn’t have to be here and he didn’t have to die on Christmas Day. He was wounded in action in April and evacuated to the States for recovery. After three months on the mend, he requested to come back to rejoin his team. His name was Specialist Sergio Gudino.

“Also on Christmas Day, a newly hired Iraqi interpreter pulled a gun on one of our soldiers who works with sensitive intelligence. The Iraqi spy made Specialist Steven Clark bring him to his work space so he could look at his computer work station. The interpreter briefly turned his back to Clark and our guy immediately pulled his 9mm pistol and emptied his magazine into the Iraqi. The interpreter also got six shots off, one of which hit the soldier in his left breast pocket, but a notebook and ID card stopped the bullet. When I talked to Clark he said, ‘I thought I was going to die and couldn’t believe it when the guy turned his back to me.’ Interesting detail: this soldier has been awarded the Purple Heart FOUR times. He’s another one who doesn’t have to be here. Message to all the naysayers back home: If you think these kids aren’t committed to this mission, and don’t believe in what they are doing, guess again.”

“The idea that we’re going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong,” opined Democratic chairman Howard Dean in December. Who agrees with him?

Well, most academics and journalists seem to. Military leaders, however, do not.

In September and October 2005, Princeton Survey Research asked various American leadership groups whether they believe the U.S. will succeed or fail in establishing a stable democratic government in Iraq. Most academics agree with Howard Dean: only a quarter say we will “succeed.” Most journalists agree with Dean: Only one third answer “succeed.” Among military officers, however, two thirds say the U.S. will succeed in Iraq.

Progress does seem dreadfully slow.

It is. Defanging the Middle East is a vast undertaking. But again, wars have never been easy or antiseptic. Even after the hostilities of World War II were over, the U.S. occupied Japan for seven years of stabilization and reconstruction, and West Germany for four years (the first year, the Germans nearly starved).

And a guerilla war like we face in Iraq generally requires even more stamina. Eliminating a terror insurgency has historically taken a decade or two. It’s like eradicating smallpox; you must squeeze and squeeze and squeeze, and show great patience. Our occupation of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War is a closer example of what we face in Iraq; we fought an extensive insurgency there for years, then remained in the country for nearly a century, with very positive eventual results.

Interestingly, our soldiers appear to better understand the incremental nature of this war than many reporters, pundits, and politicians. “Americans seem to kind of want this McDonald’s war, where you drive up, you order it, you pay for it, you go to the next window and get a democracy. That’s not the way it works,” cautioned Army reservist Scott Southworth recently. “It takes a lot of effort; it takes a lot of time.”

Morass or not, this war seems to be especially unpopular on the homefront.

Actually, a substantial minority has opposed almost every war prosecuted by our nation. This was true right from the American Revolution—which a large proportion of Tory elites (including most New York City residents) insisted was an ill-considered and quixotic mistake.

Only in 20/20 hindsight have our wars been reinterpreted as righteous and widely supported by a unified nation. Even World War II, the ultimate “good” war fought by the “greatest” generation, was deeply controversial at the time. Fully 6,000 Americans went to prison as war resisters during the years our troops were conquering fascism in Europe and Japan.

There’s no reason to think of the Iraq war as more unpopular than any other U.S. war. If it is prosecuted to success, there’s little doubt that the war against terror in Iraq will in retrospect look just as wise and worthy as previous sacrifices. But there is a wild card: Would the nation have retained the nerve to finish previous successful wars if there had been contemporary-style news coverage of battles like Camden, the Wilderness, or Tarawa?

Where is some evidence that we’re making headway?

In December, Iraqis filed a record number of tips informing on insurgents. That shows growing political and social cooperation. Iraq is also beginning to recover economically. Over the last generation, this was one of the globe’s worst-governed nations, and recovering from the long neglect of plants, factories, utility lines, canals, roads, schools, houses, and commercial districts will take decades. Every time I walk Iraq’s streets and farmyards I am stunned by the raggedness of its physical and social fabric.

But despite the best efforts of terrorists to further damage economic infrastructure, a rebound has begun. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund estimate that Iraqi national income per capita exceeded $1,050 in 2005—up more than 30 percent from the year before the war began ($802 in 2002). One consumer survey by British researchers found that average household income rose 60 percent from February 2004 to November 2005. The IMF projects that Iraq’s gross domestic product will grow 17 percent in 2006 after inflation.

Evidence of growth can be seen in the jump in car usage. The number of registered autos has more than doubled, and traffic is estimated to be five times as heavy as before the war. Purchases of nearly all consumer goods—air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, farm machinery, computers—are soaring. Cell phone ownership has jumped from 6 percent in early 2004 to over 65 percent today.

TV satellite dishes are as ubiquitous as mobile phones, and now sprout from even the rudest abodes in Iraq’s most out-of-the-way corners. Fully 86 percent of Iraqi households reported having satellite TV at the end of 2005. The number of Iraqi commercial TV stations is now 44, and there are 72 commercial radio stations (there were none of either prior to 2003). The number of newspapers exceeds 100.

After two decades of classroom deterioration, Iraqi children are now flooding back to school. Making this possible is a jump in teacher salaries from just a few dollars per month under Saddam to an average of $100 per month today. Parents are delighted: the proportion saying their locals schools are good has risen to 74 percent. By 3:1 they say local education is better than before the war.

Then why do Iraqis seem so dissatisfied?

Make no mistake: Iraq is broken. Most residents have never known proper sewage service, 24 hour electricity, or decent health care.

And improvement could be faster. Both terror attacks and the Arab tradition of endemic corruption are making today’s economic recovery less booming than it would otherwise be. Another damper has been the failure of our Western allies to make good on their promises of Iraq aid: Of the $13.6 billion European and other nations pledged to help rebuild Iraq, only a couple billion has so far been delivered.

All the same, progress is visible in Iraq, not just to observers like me but to Iraqis themselves. There is ample proof of this in the latest scientific poll of the Iraqi public, released December 12 by Oxford Research International. Asked how things are going for them personally, 71 percent of Iraqis now say life is “good,” compared to 29 percent who say “bad.” A majority insist that despite the war, life is already better for them than it was under Saddam Hussein. By 5:1 they expect their lives will be even better one year from now. Seven out of ten Iraqis think their country as a whole will be a better place in one year.

Iraqis are particularly pleased about trends in security. By 61 to 38 percent, they say security where they live is now “good” rather than “bad.” Back at the beginning of 2004 those numbers were reversed (49 percent good, 50 percent bad). On a vast range of specific subjects—from the availability of clean water and medical care to their ability to buy household basics—Iraqis say things are good and getting better. Fully 70 percent say “my family’s economic situation is good,” and 78 percent rate their new freedom of speech as “good.”

The Iraqis don’t seem to be doing much for themselves.

Actually, the ranks of Iraqi security forces passed the number of U.S. soldiers in the country back in March 2005. At present, their total exceeds 200,000 men. Iraqi soldiers, police, and guards were much more in evidence, and more competent, when I accompanied them on raids and searches in late 2005 than they were during my earlier reporting visits in 2003-2005. As of December 2005, one quarter of all military operations conducted in Iraq were carried out exclusively by Iraqi units. Another half were carried out by joint Iraqi-U.S. forces.

Despite many cruel suicide attacks, Iraqis continue to sign up in droves to become soldiers and police, and they are fighting. In 2003 and 2004, Iraqi soldiers and police frequently turned tail when engaged. Since the January 2005 election, however, not a single Iraqi army unit has been defeated in battle, and not one police station has been abandoned.

“Every police station here has a dozen or more memorials for officers that were murdered,” notes Sergeant Walter Rausch of the 101st Airborne. “These are husbands, fathers, and sons killed every day. The media never reports the heroism I witness every day in Iraqis.”

The Iraqi public, however, is noticing. In November 2005, 67 percent expressed confidence in the new Iraqi army (up from 39 percent two years earlier); 68 percent say they have confidence in the police (up from 45 percent).

Iraqi units still depend upon American counterparts for transport, planning, training, heavy weaponry, and leadership, but in most combat operations I accompanied this winter, and nearly all traffic control points and perimeter guard posts, Iraqis were the lead elements. After bearing the brunt of daily casualties over the last year, the number of Iraqi security forces killed is now declining. Monthly deaths of Iraqi soldiers and police climbed steadily to a peak of 304 in July 2005, then fell just as steadily to 193 by December 2005.

Are there signs of the Iraqis weaning themselves from dependence on the U.S.?

In the first two years after the U.S. arrived, nearly every conversation between Iraqis and Americans that I witnessed ended with a wish list. Can you do this? We need that. What will you give me?

That has largely changed. Vast swathes of the country are now policed and administered solely by Iraqis. And residents are beginning to look to their own government, ministries, security forces, and internal leaders for solutions they used to beg Americans to provide.

Late in 2005, American journalist Hart Seely described a meeting he monitored between reporters from Iraq’s brand new independent press and leaders of Iraq’s brand new army. No open dialogue like that had ever taken place before in Iraq, and it was tentative and halting. But “it was the Iraqi media pulling information from Iraqi generals—not looking to the Americans for answers.” That’s progress.

Do average Iraqis support the insurgents?

Those carrying out terror in Iraq, never more than a small fraction of the population, are now deeply resented by most residents. Though Americans are the outsiders who come from furthest away, physically and culturally, in most of Iraq it’s now the insurgents who are viewed as the most threatening alien invaders.

It is a fact almost never reported in the U.S. that a significant number of the suicide bombers who carry out the most horrendous attacks in Iraq are coerced or manipulated into doing so. Naked deception plus religious, economic, strong-arm, and pharmacological pressures are commonly used to enlist foreign and Iraqi triggermen.

At one base where I was embedded for a time, a car loaded with explosives pulled up to the front gate and detonated. Construction of the bomb was botched, however, and the badly burned driver survived long enough to talk to guards at the entrance. It turned out the wife and children of the driver (who was handcuffed to the steering wheel) had been kidnapped, and he was informed they would be killed if he didn’t drive the car as instructed. A triggerman in a following vehicle actually initiated the blast, wirelessly, then fled.

Sometimes the drivers of car bombs do not even know what they are carrying. In addition, many fighters have been found, when wounded or killed, to be full of drugs. (TAE first reported this after the battle of Fallujah, in our J/F 2005 issue.)

Western reporters have emphasized the many ethnic and religious schisms that divide Iraqis. They rarely note that there are also some countervailing common interests, social forces, and leaders who pull Iraqis together. An observation passed to me by a U.S. commander after the December 15 election illustrates some of these positive forces:

“The highlight of my day was in Mahmoudiyah (south Baghdad) where there were no polling stations in the January election, and where many Sunnis refused to vote in October. I watched as two affluent local sheiks walked into the polling station together holding hands (a big sign of respect here). One sheik was Shia, the other Sunni. I stopped them and offered my congratulations on a great day for the people and country of Iraq. They both told me how much they appreciated what the United States had done for them, and that they could never repay us. I told them we neither needed nor expected repayment, but if they wanted to show their appreciation they needed to ensure that the move toward democracy continued and that Sunni and Shia come together to live in peace. The Sunni sheik said, ‘We are tired of violence and fighting that destroys our people and our country.’ These two guys got it.”

But in the wider Muslim world, hasn’t the Iraq war done irreparable damage to America’s image?

As terrorists’ attacks have shed light on their goals and principles, and as the U.S. has shown it is serious about promoting democracy in Iraq and then going home, new views of America are evolving in Islamic countries. According to surveys in 17 nations carried out in 2005 by an organization chaired by Madeleine Albright, support for terrorism in defense of Islam has “declined dramatically” in the last couple years—from 73 percent to 26 percent in Lebanon, from 40 percent down to 13 percent in Morocco, from 41 percent to 25 percent in Pakistan.

Support for Osama bin Laden has plummeted in nearly every Islamic nation. Rationalizing suicide bombing and violence against civilian targets is way down. A majority of Muslims in many nations now “see Islamic extremism as a threat to their countries.” And majorities of Muslims in many countries now believe that “the U.S. favors democracy in their country”—and rather like the idea. The upshot: positive views of the U.S. are rising—up 23 percentage points in Indonesia, up 15 points in Lebanon, up 16 in Jordan.

Isn’t it a pipe dream to think we can introduce democracy to the Middle East—so long dominated by strongmen?

That’s the $64,000 question, and no one knows the answer for sure. But there are signs in Iraq that a surprisingly patient representative politics may be breaking out for the first time ever. To begin, 8 million Iraqis voted for an interim government in January 2005, and almost 10 million voted on the constitution. Then (in a nation with just 14 million adults) 11 million voted in December 2005 for the first permanent parliament.

At this point, all of Iraq’s major factions, including the disaffected Sunnis, are participating in the political process, and many barriers have been breached for the first time. For instance, 31 percent of the legislators elected to the interim parliament were female—which is not only unprecedented for the Middle East but higher than the fraction of women in the U.S. Congress. Power in Iraq’s new National Assembly is reasonably balanced, with no one faction holding a whip hand against the others, and compromise is the requirement of the day.

The new Iraqi constitution guarantees freedom of religion and conscience, and provides forms of due process unknown in any other Middle Eastern country. How scrupulously these will be defended remains to be seen. But there is a framework for basic decencies and liberties that no other Arab nations even pretend to honor. As Christopher Hitchens has put it, “in a country that was dying on its feet and poisoning the region a couple of years ago, there is now a real political process that has serious implications for adjacent countries.”

Noting what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan, more and more Muslims are now saying they are ready to live under selfrule. In the 2005 survey in 17 countries I mentioned above, the proportion saying democracy is not just for the West but could work well in their own country exceeded 80 percent in places like Morocco, Lebanon, and Jordan. Even in problematic countries like Pakistan, the portion of the public favoring multiparty democracy has become larger than any other faction.

Why do I never hear any of this in most reporting?

A good question. More than perhaps any news event in a generation, coverage of the Iraq war has been unbalanced and incomplete. The dangers that keep most Western reporters completely cloistered in the artificial bubble of a few heavily guarded hotels create many distortions. But the disdain of the press corps for this war is also crystal clear in the overall reporting.

One media critic (Arthur Chrenkoff) did a content analysis of a typical day (January 21, 2005), and counted this breakout of freshly published stories on Iraq:

• 1,992 covering terrorist attacks

• 887 essays alleging prisoner abuse by the British

• 289 about American casualties or civilian deaths in Iraq

• 27 mentions of oil pipeline sabotage

• 761 reports on public statements of terrorists

• 357 on U.S. anti-war protestors

• 121 speculations on a possible American pullout

• 118 articles about strains with European nations

• 217 stories worrying over the validity of the upcoming January 30 Iraqi election

• 216 tales of hostages in Iraq

• 123 quoting Vice President Cheney saying he had underestimated reconstruction needs

• 2,642 items on a Senate grilling of Condoleezza Rice over Iraq policy

Balanced against these negative stories, Chrenkoff ’s computer search found a grand total of 96 comparatively positive reports related to Iraq:

• 16 reports on successful operations against insurgents

• 7 hopeful stories about Iraqi elections

• 73 describing the return of missing Iraqi antiquities

Tendentious reporting is clouding understanding and spawning inaccuracies. In January 2005, for instance, the New York Times editorial board had become convinced that civil war was just around the corner in Iraq and suggested “it’s time to talk about postponing [Iraq’s first] elections.” Less than two weeks later came the popular outpouring that inspired observers around the globe. Snookered yet again by over-gloomy reporting, the Times insisted on October 7 that Iraqis were “going through the motions of democracy only as long as their side wins.” Just days after, the minority Sunnis announced they were joining the political process, and turned out in force to vote on the constitution, and then in Iraq’s historic parliamentary election.

Many other establishment media organs have been equally out of line. When Iraq’s unprecedented new constitution was ratified by 79 percent of voters (in a turnout heavier than any American election), the Washington Post buried that story on page 13, and put this downbeat headline on it: “Sunnis Failed to Defeat Iraq Constitution: Arab Minority Came Close.” The four top headlines on the front page of the Post that same day: “Military Has Lost 2,000 in Iraq,” “The Toll: 2,000,” “Bigger, Stronger, Homemade Bombs Now to Blame for Half of U.S. Deaths,” and “Bush Aides Brace for Charges.”

Well, even if Iraq is a democracy, it’s a very partial and imperfect one.

There is no reason to be Pollyannish about Iraq. Like nearly every Arab nation, it is not a competent society at present. Trade, manufacturing, and farming have been suffocated by bad governance. Public servants routinely skim funds. Trash is not picked up, property rights are not respected, rules are not enforced, altruism is non-existent.

Having been one of the most brutalized societies on earth over the last generation, it would be absurd to expect prone Iraq to jump to its feet at this critical transition and dance a jig. Newborn representative governments are always imperfect, inept, even dirty at times—witness El Salvador, Russia, Taiwan, South Africa.

Yet, a quiet tide is rippling up the Tigris and Euphrates. The November 2005 study by Oxford Research found that when Iraqis are asked what form of political system will work best in their nation for the future, 64 percent now say “a democratic government with a chance for the leader to be replaced from time to time.” Only 18 percent choose “a government headed by one strong leader for life,” and just 12 percent pick “an Islamic state where politicians rule according to religious principles.” This surge toward representative toleration—which did not enjoy majority support in Iraq as recently as early 2004—ought not to be taken for granted. It is an historic groundswell.

Iraq is now creeping away from murderous authoritarianism to face the more normal messes of a creaky Third World nation: corruption, poverty, health problems, miserable public services. And that is vastly preferable to what came before.

Karl Zinsmeister is editor in chief of TAE.



TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: fact; fiction; front; gnfa; gnfi; iraq; karlzinmeister; report

1 posted on 01/31/2006 9:19:40 AM PST by SirLinksalot
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To: SirLinksalot

Great Article!!!!


2 posted on 01/31/2006 9:23:48 AM PST by chaosagent (Remember, no matter how you slice it, forbidden fruit still tastes the sweetest!)
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To: SirLinksalot

Excellent article. Well worth reading.


3 posted on 01/31/2006 9:23:49 AM PST by MNJohnnie ("Good men don't wait for the polls. They stand on principle and fight."-Soul Seeker)
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To: SirLinksalot
Sorry to re-post such a big chunk of this, but it really bears repeating. We should thank God each day that we are blessed with these strong, courageous, and honorable Americans in our military:

“I look at faces and see fellow human beings, and I say, ‘O.K. This is the sacrifice I have to make to bring them freedom.’ That’s why I joined the military. Not for the college money, for doing what’s right. Fighting under our flag. That’s what our flag stands for. I believe in that stuff. Yeah, we might lose American soldiers, but they are going to lose a society, lose a people. You’ve got to look at the bigger picture. I’ve lost friends, and it hurts. It definitely hurts. But that’s even more reason why I say stay. It’s something that has to be done. If we don’t do it, who will?”

4 posted on 01/31/2006 9:25:00 AM PST by hsalaw
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To: SirLinksalot

Thank you for posting this.


5 posted on 01/31/2006 9:25:52 AM PST by sarasota
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To: SirLinksalot

pingeroo


6 posted on 01/31/2006 9:27:00 AM PST by Rakkasan1 (Peace de Resistance! Viva la Paper towels!)
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To: SirLinksalot

Self-ping to read later.


7 posted on 01/31/2006 9:29:02 AM PST by dpa5923 (Small minds talk about people, normal minds talk about events, great minds talk about ideas.)
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To: SirLinksalot

Thanks for posting this. It is a great read!


8 posted on 01/31/2006 9:29:58 AM PST by Ben Mugged (Television is the most perfect democracy, You sit there with your remote control and vote")
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To: SirLinksalot
Zinsmeister is being interviewed by Mike Rosen right now on KOA
9 posted on 01/31/2006 9:37:33 AM PST by A.A. Cunningham
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To: SirLinksalot

BUMP! This needs to be linked and sent everywhere!


10 posted on 01/31/2006 9:40:33 AM PST by Choose Ye This Day ("Without God all things are permissible." -- Dostoevsky)
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To: hsalaw

Nice - can't wait to read it all.


11 posted on 01/31/2006 9:41:15 AM PST by GOP_Party_Animal
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To: A.A. Cunningham

Thanks. Listening now.


12 posted on 01/31/2006 9:42:27 AM PST by Choose Ye This Day ("Without God all things are permissible." -- Dostoevsky)
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To: Tolik

Very interesting!


13 posted on 01/31/2006 9:56:49 AM PST by SouthernBoyupNorth ("For my wings are made of Tungsten, my flesh of glass and steel..........")
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To: SirLinksalot

"This summer, the U.S. general in charge of our National Guard put his Iraq casualties in some perspective: “I lose, unfortunately, more people through private automobile accidents and motorcycle accidents over the same period of time.”

Interesting point ... BUMP for Liberating Iraq.


14 posted on 01/31/2006 10:06:16 AM PST by WOSG
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To: SirLinksalot

Karl Zinsmeister has written an excellent report. Thanks for posting.

It's a reminder that, despite how difficult the war and reconstruction efforts have been, the challenge of liberating Iraq is bearing fruit and will succeed.


15 posted on 01/31/2006 10:15:25 AM PST by WOSG
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To: SirLinksalot

Bookmark Bump! Great info in this article!


16 posted on 01/31/2006 10:28:32 AM PST by Indy Pendance
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To: SirLinksalot

Thanks for posting this excellent article.


17 posted on 01/31/2006 10:39:56 AM PST by No Blue States
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To: SirLinksalot

Hear! Hear!


18 posted on 01/31/2006 11:33:02 AM PST by Treader (Hillary's dark smile is reminiscent of Stalin's inhuman grin...)
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To: SirLinksalot

Great post thanks!


19 posted on 01/31/2006 11:40:51 AM PST by Rummyfan
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To: SirLinksalot
Civil War, World War II, Korea, and the Cold War—each considered in retrospect to have been noble successes.

Alabama disagrees...

20 posted on 01/31/2006 11:53:49 AM PST by Onelifetogive (* Sarcasm tag ALWAYS required. For some FReepers, sarcasm can NEVER be obvious enough.)
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To: SirLinksalot

bttt


21 posted on 01/31/2006 11:54:29 AM PST by knews_hound (Now with two handed typing !)
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To: hsalaw
“I look at faces and see fellow human beings, and I say, ‘O.K. This is the sacrifice I have to make to bring them freedom.’ That’s why I joined the military. Not for the college money, for doing what’s right. Fighting under our flag. That’s what our flag stands for. I believe in that stuff. Yeah, we might lose American soldiers, but they are going to lose a society, lose a people. You’ve got to look at the bigger picture. I’ve lost friends, and it hurts. It definitely hurts. But that’s even more reason why I say stay. It’s something that has to be done. If we don’t do it, who will?”

In case someone missed it when you posted it...

22 posted on 01/31/2006 12:00:08 PM PST by Onelifetogive (* Sarcasm tag ALWAYS required. For some FReepers, sarcasm can NEVER be obvious enough.)
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To: SirLinksalot; SouthernBoyupNorth; Lando Lincoln; quidnunc; .cnI redruM; Valin; King Prout; ...

Nailed It!

This ping list is not author-specific for articles I'd like to share. Some for the perfect moral clarity, some for provocative thoughts; or simply interesting articles I'd hate to miss myself. (I don't have to agree with the author all 100% to feel the need to share an article.) I will try not to abuse the ping list and not to annoy you too much, but on some days there is more of the good stuff that is worthy of attention. You can see the list of articles I pinged to lately  on  my page.
You are welcome in or out, just freepmail me (and note which PING list you are talking about). Besides this one, I keep 2 separate PING lists for my favorite authors Victor Davis Hanson and Orson Scott Card.  

23 posted on 01/31/2006 12:15:55 PM PST by Tolik
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To: All

bump


24 posted on 01/31/2006 12:19:57 PM PST by Ultra Sonic 007 (Hitler and Stalin have nothing on Abortion)
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To: SirLinksalot

bookmark.


25 posted on 01/31/2006 12:30:07 PM PST by rockthecasbah (4th & 9. 1:32 left in the 4th quarter. Down by 3 at Notre Dame. No problem. Fight on!)
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To: SirLinksalot

*Bump & Bookmark*


26 posted on 01/31/2006 12:39:08 PM PST by Yardstick
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To: SirLinksalot
Thanks for the post. Bookmarked.





27 posted on 01/31/2006 12:39:44 PM PST by G.Mason (Iwo Jima ... 6,825 American's died in the 36 days of that battle. We did not quit John Murtha!)
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To: Tolik
Ping appreciation bump.





28 posted on 01/31/2006 12:41:49 PM PST by G.Mason (Iwo Jima ... 6,825 American's died in the 36 days of that battle. We did not quit John Murtha!)
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To: SirLinksalot
Interestingly, our soldiers appear to better understand the incremental nature of this war than many reporters, pundits, and politicians. “Americans seem to kind of want this McDonald’s war, where you drive up, you order it, you pay for it, you go to the next window and get a democracy. That’s not the way it works,” cautioned Army reservist Scott Southworth recently. “It takes a lot of effort; it takes a lot of time.”

BTTT!

29 posted on 01/31/2006 3:03:02 PM PST by ScreamingFist ( Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. NRA)
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To: Tolik; Zacs Mom; PhilDragoo; Happy2BMe; potlatch; ntnychik; Smartass; Boazo; Alamo-Girl; devolve; ..

bingo! Pingo!


30 posted on 01/31/2006 9:24:51 PM PST by bitt ('More bad news for the terrorists: This president is no Lyndon Johnson. He won't quit.')
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To: bitt

Thanks bitt. Good to see you!!


31 posted on 01/31/2006 9:27:57 PM PST by potlatch (Does a clean house indicate that there is a broken computer in it?)
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To: WOSG
"... the U.S. general in charge of our National Guard put his Iraq casualties in some perspective: “I lose, unfortunately, more people through private automobile accidents and motorcycle accidents over the same period of time.”

I'd like to see how many servicemen and women have died (globally) since March of 2003 from non=combat losses. ...and whether that number is equal or even greater than total US combat deaths . I'm not just an unfeeling bean-counter. My son just got back Saturday (thank God) from his 3rd OIF deployment.

32 posted on 01/31/2006 9:28:03 PM PST by cookcounty (Army Vet, Army Dad.)
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To: potlatch

in and out like SMOKE!!!!!

See Cindy Sheehan get arrested?? hahaha!!!!


33 posted on 01/31/2006 9:35:42 PM PST by bitt ('More bad news for the terrorists: This president is no Lyndon Johnson. He won't quit.')
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To: Tolik

BTTT and bookmark.


34 posted on 01/31/2006 10:02:46 PM PST by A message
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To: bitt

Thanks for the ping!


35 posted on 01/31/2006 10:08:09 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: bitt

I'm glad she was removed, she might have caused a scene! Heading for bed. Vaporize more often, lol!


36 posted on 01/31/2006 10:15:27 PM PST by potlatch (Does a clean house indicate that there is a broken computer in it?)
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To: SirLinksalot

pingo!


37 posted on 01/31/2006 11:25:47 PM PST by Left2Right ("Democracy isn't perfect, but other governments are so much worse")
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To: ducks1944; Ragtime Cowgirl; Alamo-Girl; TrueBeliever9; maestro; TEXOKIE; My back yard; djreece; ...
The proof of the pudding: Individuals who have actually served in Iraq and Afghanistan are signing up again at record rates. Re-enlistment totals in the active Army over the last three years are more than 6 percent above targets. Over a third of Army re-enlistments now take place in combat zones.

Today’s supposed hemorrhaging in military manpower is mostly a fiction manufactured by the media. Moderate shortfalls in recruiting new bodies have hit reserve and National Guard units. The latest Army Reserve recruiting class, for instance, totaled only 96 percent of the goal.

All active duty branches, however, are exceeding their recruiting requirements in the latest monthly figures from the Department of Defense (released in December). The Army and Marine Corps (who are doing most of the hard service in Iraq) were each at 105 percent of their quotas. After a dip early in 2005, the Army has met or exceeded its goals for new recruits in every month since June. One source of pressure on the active-duty Army is the process of expanding from 482,000 soldiers to 512,000, as a dozen new combat brigades are added to the force.

38 posted on 02/01/2006 7:32:29 AM PST by Calpernia (Breederville.com)
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To: Calpernia

Thanks for the ping!


39 posted on 02/01/2006 11:32:06 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: SirLinksalot

Great article. I needed that right about now.

bitt, thanks for the ping.


40 posted on 02/01/2006 1:04:35 PM PST by USMCPOP
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To: SirLinksalot
Also on Christmas Day, a newly hired Iraqi interpreter pulled a gun on one of our soldiers who works with sensitive intelligence. The Iraqi spy made Specialist Steven Clark bring him to his work space so he could look at his computer work station. The interpreter briefly turned his back to Clark and our guy immediately pulled his 9mm pistol and emptied his magazine into the Iraqi. The interpreter also got six shots off, one of which hit the soldier in his left breast pocket, but a notebook and ID card stopped the bullet.

I love a happy ending. But what was the spy using, a .25 ACP?. I suppose a 9mm Kurz (.380) is more likely , and almost as likely to be stopped by a notebook and ID card. (If it's a modern Common Access Card, it's the size and thickness of a credit card, but with both a magnetic strip and a "chip".

41 posted on 02/01/2006 4:31:25 PM PST by El Gato (The Second Amendment is the Reset Button of the U.S. Constitution)
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To: SirLinksalot

to read later ..... bump


42 posted on 03/31/2006 12:03:15 AM PST by malia (The Democrats .... Retreat and Defeat!! The Media ....no reporting just commentary)
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