San Diego Soliloquies

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

What Happened in Samarra

Yesterday, just like everyone else skimming the news, I saw that 54 Iraqis were reported killed in an attempted ambush in Samarra. Today I ran into an account emailed to Col. David Hackworth by a purported eyewitness of the battle. (You can judge Hack's bona fides and any tendency to gullibility by reviewing his website). The email ends chillingly:

    Since we did not stick around to find out, I am very concerned in the coming days we will find we killed many civilians as well as Iraqi irregular fighters. I would feel great if all the people we killed were all enemy guerrillas, but I can't say that. We are probably turning many Iraqi against us and I am afraid instead of climbing out of the hole, we are digging ourselves in deeper.

Meanwhile Jim Henley started off wondering about how often the "crackpots" end up being right, then uses the Samarra action as an example. He has a number of entries looking at Samarra that lead him to this conclusion:

    the Army brass or their civilian bosses made a political decision to puff the ambush up into something it was not because they wanted a happy headline running at the end of the bloodiest month of the occupation phase of the war. It worked, too.

Ouch

In response to those who ask "Why do you hate America?" of those of us who explore these problems, Jim has an excellent retort:

    ..."sober" defenders of the administration (any administration) admonish us not to be "hysterical" because, whatever we're complaining about, it's not as bad as the depredations in actual totalitarian countries. Therefore we must be reasonable. But I figure the object is to not become as bad as actual totalitarian countries. And the time to do that is this side of totalitarianism.

I actually might agree with Ronald Reagan on one thing. The United States is a "City on a Hill". The world notices what we do, and some parts even pattern themselves on us. We owe it to them, ourselves, and our devotion to whatever religion or moral path we follow to be the best, not just better than the worst. If we just shot the crap out of a small town in Iraq out of fear or rage at our inability to occupy that nation and make it safe, then we've got a lot of investigations, trials and punishment to meet out.


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