In recent months, I've become concerned that our country is turning into a "delicate wonder", too "evolved" to engage in the dirty, and sometimes brutal, business of surviving as a nation in a violent world. Any bloodshed or suffering are unacceptable. If we can't do it bloodlessly, we won't do it at all. This pie-in-the-sky idealism may sound good in an Ivy League classroom, but it doesn't work in the real world. Pacifists will tell you "it takes two to make war", but violence only requires the effort of one. Stopping violence often requires the decisive use of force. Too many Americans seem to have forgotten this.
Retired Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu, a special ops veteran of Vietnam, addresses this in his most recent column, appropriately titled "Mythology of Clean War."
Watching the Democrats in Congress -- abetted by some ill-informed, poorly disciplined Republicans -- engage in the politics of betrayal most recently was grim. Seeing so many supposedly intelligent, dedicated, patriotic individuals engage in infantile defeatism was maddening. They are attempting to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and many of us are frustrated and upset.
Part of what drives these individuals -- aside from Beltway poll watching, and unchecked ambition -- also troubles many Americans: our obsession with achieving the impossible. We want to have a clean, crisp, sanitary war in which we suffer few casualties. We want our enemy's pain to be minimal possible to achieve desired results. We want the unfortunate deaths of civilians -- euphemistically called “collateral damage” -- removed from the process completely. Additionally we wish that all deaths inflicted by internal errors -- “friendly fire casualties” -- be prevented. We want a Clean War Pill to cure our foreign policy ills and will accept no hangovers or unpleasant side effects. And, by the way, we want the entire thing from beginning to end wrapped up by next Thursday.
Even though Iraq since July 2003 has been a frustrating experience it has been relatively positive. Regardless, American media conveys much the opposite impression. Compared to previous wars casualty levels are extremely low considering that 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan are free of brutal, mass murdering dictatorships. Elections, that took years to take place in liberated Japan and Germany, have been occurring with reassuring regularity and have included increasingly large numbers of the population. Disaffected Sunni citizens -- who held all the cards during Saddam's vicious reign -- are accepting the reality of living with other Iraqi citizens as equals. The terrorist campaign has shifted focus from American troops to Iraqi civilians and first responders, particularly police. And the terrorists are now mostly foreign fighters imported from Saudi, Yemen, Jordan, Chechnya, and other Arab/Islamic states.
So why are Americans so disconsolate about the state of affairs? The obvious answer is that we receive precious little positive news from the battlefield. We are told that casualty rates are high, though they are not. We are told that the “insurgency” is gaining popularity among Iraqi people while the converse is true: insurgents have declared war on ordinary Iraqis and the civilians recognize the threat. Massive demonstrations in Jordan see the “Arab Street” -- which up till now has been deafening silent -- out chanting “Zarqawi, burn in hell!” Inside Iraq civilians who may have given tacit support to the terrorists are no longer intimidated and are informing to American and Iraqi forces on the hideouts of the Al Qaeda thugs.
Check out the rest of Lt. Col Cucullu's column. He's a guy who has "been there and done that", and knows more about counterinsurgency warfare than Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, or anyone at moveon.org.