"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse." --John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873)

Saturday, March 20, 2004

One Year After The Liberation

Remember the president's visit to the troops in Baghdad? At the time, I sent these images and wrote the following to friends and family:

Jay Nordlinger mentioned this vile cartoon in his "Impromptus". Note how the cartoonist (Jeff Danziger) depicts President Bush as a short, simian creature. Bush is six feet tall, which means that the soldiers depicted next to him would have to be about seven feet tall. Also note how the cartoon soldiers glare angrily at the president. Perhaps Danziger was mistaking the Secret Service agents (e.g., second photo, center background) for actual soldiers. They were the only ones not smiling.
Just for good measure, I've thrown in a third photo, this one from the president's famous carrier landing. The sailors are not glaring at their commander-in-chief, either.

Fantasy Posted by Hello

Reality Posted by Hello

Reality Posted by Hello

Reality Posted by Hello

But the liberal media continue to insist that the troops' enthusiasm for Bush is manufactured. Here's an e-mail from a reader (the italics are mine):

"...This [is] from that nut Dana Milbank about Bush's appearance yesterday. The suggested implication, that the soldiers had to be goaded into cheering for Bush, he tries to make is disturbing:"

Bush Meets Families of Fallen
Fort Campbell Visit a Prelude to Anniversary of Iraq Invasion
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 19, 2004; Page A14

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky., March 18-- President Bush paid a return visit Thursday to the post that has lost more soldiers in Iraq than any other, thanking the surviving warriors for their sacrifice and meeting for nearly two hours with families of the fallen.

...Bush, wearing a green Army jacket, received an enthusiastic welcome from the troops, who stood on the post's muddy parade grounds under bright sunshine and chanted "U.S.A.!" Before Bush appeared, small U.S. flags were handed out, and an officer gave instructions to the troops on how to receive the commander in chief. "We're going to show him a lot of love by waving flags," the officer said. Telling the troops not to salute, he added: "You're going to wave and clap and make a lot of noise.... You must smile. We are happy campers here."
First, savor that reference to "the surviving warriors". Very subtle. The phrase is technically accurate in this case, however, survivors is a word that would normally be applied to those remaining from a group that had been subjected to some sort of disaster, typically one that reduced the numbers of the group considerably. The reason behind Milbank's use of the word is clearly to give the reader the impression of many lives lost in a senseless tragedy.

Second, is it really so unusual that higher-ups would encourage the members of their group to be on their best behavior and make a guest of honor feel welcome? I suspect something like what the officer said is expressed to the "troops" at every school, factory, base, etc. that the president visits.

The media cannot stand to think that those in uniform are dedicated to their commander-in-chief and to their mission. They wish them to be reluctant, disaffected warriors. But check out this letter from a Marine in Baghdad that appeared in the New York Post yesterday:

...This is a dangerous place. I am United States Marine - so I know I am in the right place.... There will be no rollback. We will not falter or leave before
the job is done. That job, in simple terms - to a dumb Marine like me - is to achieve a great and important thing here in Iraq.

...The liberal press chooses to miss that this is not solely a U.S. effort, but a Coalition effort. While we are the star players, you can't win a game with just the star players. We have a great team here, and we will succeed - despite the efforts of an evil, cowardly and extremist resistance.

The fight goes on here, and it goes very well. But the going can be slow. The Iraqi people - who are counting on our assistance - are fervently trying to rebuild under constant threat from the few, but deadly, international malcontents and disaffected insurgents. Essentially, these insurgents are anachronisms in a country that will no longer be hospitable to their vile, cowardly kind. They just don't know it yet.

They say we are coming up on a one-year anniversary for our presence here in Iraq. As a Marine and a New Yorker, I disagree. This is really a 14-year anniversary. I enlisted in the Marines in 1990, giving up a safe, normal life - I was going to be a New York City school teacher - to be a part of righting the wrong that Saddam Hussein committed.

I left active duty service after my ninth year in the Marines. Then the call came on 9/11. I volunteered and was out of the U.S. for Operation Enduring Freedom in less than two weeks. Now, here I am at Camp Victory in Iraq, supporting the First Marine Expeditionary Force and all of the Coalition in a job that I really can't discuss here - but it is the most important I have ever done.

The Marines have just arrived and are holding down the entire Western Sector of Iraq. The Marines have their hands full - but nobody is more capable and up to the job. The Western Sector in the Al-Anbar province is the largest, most dangerous and most diverse region of the country.

Here, the Marines must balance duplicitous Syria and Iran to the North and West with highly volatile cities such as Fallujah and Ar-Ramadi closer to Baghdad. We haven't been here long on this second trip to Iraq, but I can tell you we are doing spectacularly.

...This place and what we are doing here is more closely linked to terrorism - and American and world security - than I will ever be allowed to discuss. We wouldn't be out here giving it everything we have if it weren't important.

Not a day goes by out here that I don't think of the cops, firefighters and regular New Yorkers who died on 9/11. As New Yorkers and as Americans, please stand behind our leaders - and us here. We can do any job on earth and have already accomplished more in Iraq than we had any right to expect.

By the way, Marines are pretty easy to thank when we come home and you see us: Buy us a couple of beers, and we'll call it warmly appreciated.

Semper fidelis.

Capt. Adam J. Becker
U.S. Marine Corps