U.S. Marines rest in an amphibious assault vehicle.
Ryan Smith, who served in Iraq as a Marine, explains some of the issues combat soldiers might have about serving directly beside females.
Most people seem to believe that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have merely involved driving out of a forward operating base, patrolling the streets, maybe getting in a quick firefight, and then returning to the forward operating base and its separate shower facilities and chow hall. The reality of modern infantry combat, at least the portion I saw, bore little resemblance to this sanitized view.
I served in the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a Marine infantry squad leader. We rode into war crammed in the back of amphibious assault vehicles. They are designed to hold roughly 15 Marines snugly; due to maintenance issues, by the end of the invasion we had as many as 25 men stuffed into the back. Marines were forced to sit, in full gear, on each other’s laps and in contorted positions for hours on end. That was the least of our problems.
The invasion was a blitzkrieg. The goal was to move as fast to Baghdad as possible. The column would not stop for a lance corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or even a company commander to go to the restroom. Sometimes we spent over 48 hours on the move without exiting the vehicles. We were forced to urinate in empty water bottles inches from our comrades.
Many Marines developed dysentery from the complete lack of sanitary conditions. When an uncontrollable urge hit a Marine, he would be forced to stand, as best he could, hold an MRE bag up to his rear, and defecate inches from his seated comrade’s face.
During the invasion, we wore chemical protective suits because of the fear of chemical or biological weapon attack. These are equivalent to a ski jumpsuit and hold in the heat. We also had to wear black rubber boots over our desert boots. On the occasions the column did stop, we would quickly peel off our rubber boots, desert boots and socks to let our feet air out.
Due to the heat and sweat, layers of our skin would peel off our feet. However, we rarely had time to remove our suits or perform even the most basic hygiene. We quickly developed sores on our bodies.
When we did reach Baghdad, we were in shambles. We had not showered in well over a month and our chemical protective suits were covered in a mixture of filth and dried blood. We were told to strip and place our suits in pits to be burned immediately. My unit stood there in a walled-in compound in Baghdad, naked, sores dotted all over our bodies, feet peeling, watching our suits burn. Later, they lined us up naked and washed us off with pressure washers.
Yes, a woman is as capable as a man of pulling a trigger. But the goal of our nation’s military is to fight and win wars. Before taking the drastic step of allowing women to serve in combat units, has the government considered whether introducing women into the above-described situation would have made my unit more or less combat effective?
Walter Russell Mead thinks the American intellectual establishment ought to have taken the occasion of this year’s Memorial Day to face the truth and applaud the victory delivered by American servicemen in the face of their own betrayal.
The story of Iraq has yet to be told. It is too politically sensitive for the intelligentsia to handle just yet; passions need to cool before the professors and the pundits who worked themselves into paroxysms of hatred and disdain for the Bush administration can come to grips with how wrongheaded theyâ€™ve been. It took decades for the intelligentsia to face the possibility that the cretinous Reagan-monster might have, um, helped win the Cold War, and even now they havenâ€™t asked themselves any tough questions about the Leftâ€™s blind hatred of the man who did more than any other human being to save the world from nuclear war.
It may take that long for the truth about the war in Iraq to dawn, but dawn it will. Americaâ€™s victory in Iraq broke the back of Al-Qaeda and left Osama bin Ladenâ€™s dream in ruins. He died a defeated fanatic in his Abbotabad hideaway; his dream was crushed in the Mesopotamian flatlands where he swore it would win.
Osamaâ€™s goal was to launch the Clash of Civilizations against the West. He would be Captain Islam, fighting against the Crusader-in-Chief George W. Bush. By his purity, wisdom, daring and above all by his special knowledge of the hidden ways of God, Captain Islam would crush and humiliate the evil Bush-fiend and unite the Muslim world behind the Truth. Osama would complete at a spiritual level the mission his father undertook on the physical plane. His fatherâ€™s construction company rebuilt and modernized the ancient holy city of Mecca; Osama would rebuild and restore the entire Muslim world.
The 9/11 attacks propelled Osama to the historical height he sought: in the minds of many he had become a caliph-in-waiting, the fierce servant of God whose claims to leadership were vindicated by the dramatic success of his plans. Angry young people across the Islamic world, frustrated by a host of frustrations and privations, wondered if this was the charismatic, God-aided figure who would overturn the world order and lead Islam to its old place on the commanding heights of the world.
9/11 was the trumpet, Iraq was the test. The US invaded an Arab country, overthrew its government, and found itself condemned to the hardest task in international politics: nation building under hostile fire. More, the US had taken a country run by its Sunni minority and put power into the hands of an inexperienced and fractious Shiâ€™a majority. Then the US occupation began to fail: the government institutions fell apart, there was no security in country or in town, the economy went into free fall, and basic services like electricity and health failed across the land. The provocations were serious and real; the Americans were clumsy and awkward. US checkpoints and raids were humiliating and degrading; the scalding Abu Ghraib scandal was a propagandistâ€™s dream come true. The ham-handed diplomacy and tongue-tied defense of American policy from Washington created a sense of rising, unstoppable global opposition to Bushâ€™s War. …
For roughly three years America writhed in the toils of our predicament in Iraq. The Democratic establishment had supported the war. Some leading Democrats did so out of conviction, some out of a political calculation that no other stand was viable in the post 9/11 atmosphere. Now the grand panjandrums of the Democratic Party, one after another, made their pilgrimage to Canossa. Some came to believe and perhaps more came to say that the war was lost and that their original backing for it had been a mistake.
Well do I remember the many impassioned statements in those dark years by leading politicians and pundits that the war was lost, lost, irretrievably lost. It was over now, they wailed on television and in print. The Iraqi government was a farce and could never take hold. These clowns made Diem look like Charles de Gaulle. We had no option but to get out as quickly as possible. On and on rolled the great choir of doom, smarter than the rest of us, deeper thinkers, capable of holding more complex thoughts behind their furrowed brows.
Now they have glibly moved on to other subjects; the mostly complicit media is helping us all to forget just how wrong â€” and how intolerant and moralistic â€” so many people were about the â€˜lostâ€™ war.
While the politicians washed their hands and hung up white flags, and while the press lords gibbered and foamed, the brass kept their heads and the troops stood tall. And gradually, a miracle happened. America started winning the war.
The French scholar Gilles Kepel, no friend of the war in Iraq and no admirer of George Bush, makes the core point. Osamaâ€™s dream was to shift history into the realm of myth. He passionately believed that the ordinary course of mundane history wasnâ€™t what really mattered: there was a divine and a miraculous history just behind the veil. Osama aimed to pierce the veil, to bring hundreds of millions of Muslims into his reality, transfixed and transported by the vision of a climactic fight of good against evil, of God against America and its local allies.
That dream died in Iraq.
But on this Memorial Day it is not enough to remember, and give thanks, that Osamaâ€™s dream died before he did and that the terror movement has been gravely wounded at its heart.
Because the dream didnâ€™t just die.
It was killed. ..
All wars are tragic; some are also victorious. The tragedies of Iraq are real and well known. The victory is equally real â€” but the politically fastidious donâ€™t want to look. The minimum we owe our lost and wounded warriors is to tell the story of what they so gloriously achieved.
Condi Rice did a good job of standing up to him, and it is very interesting to observe how much O’Donnell relies on
fundamentally dishonest interviewing techniques. He continually interrupts his role as interviewer/debator to assume the role of judge and then tries to rule in his own favor. He relies constantly on leftwing talking points which he asserts dogmatically as the supposed fundamental facts entirely on the basis of his own native consensus on the left.
At Red State, Jeff Emmanuel has a large graphic illustrating a number of informative comparisons between President Bush’s unilateral, war-of-choice in Iraq and President Obama’s kinectic action in Libya which illustrates a number of difficulties in the conventional wisdom of the establishment commentariat. Be sure to look at the larger original.
Hat tip to Richard Fernandez who reflects on history, while contemplating the unhappy spectacle of escalating regime violence in response to protests in Syria:
Deraa, the site of one of the many protests, was where the fledgling Royal Air Force won its first ground-air battle in 1918 in support of Colonel T. E. Lawrenceâ€™s Arab Revolt. He was cutting the lifeline of the Ottoman empire. Viewed from the 21st century, the battle seems almost quaint: biplanes dropping a few pounds of bombs from low altitude and landing to rendezvous with riders in flowing robes on steaming horses. But those riders, all encased in cotton, creaky leather and sweat, had the virtue of knowing which end was up. Today we are even luckier to be led, not simply by the competent and daring, but by leaders who are truly awesome.
PJM explains that we are supporting, among others, Abdul-Hakim al-Hasadi who fought American troops in Afghanistan and recruited Libyans to fight American troops in Iraq.
Shortly after unrest broke out in eastern Libya in mid-February, reports emerged that an â€œIslamic Emirateâ€ had been declared in the eastern Libyan town of Darnah and that, furthermore, the alleged head of that Emirate, Abdul-Hakim al-Hasadi, was a former detainee at the American prison camp in GuantÃ¡namo. The reports, which originated from Libyan government sources, were largely ignored or dismissed in the Western media.
Now, however, al-Hasadi has admitted in an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore that he fought against American forces in Afghanistan. (Hat-tip: Thomas Joscelyn at the Weekly Standard.) Al-Hasadi says that he is the person responsible for the defense of Darnah â€” not the townâ€™s â€œEmir.â€ In a previous interview with Canadaâ€™s Globe and Mail, he claimed to have a force of about 1,000 men and to have commanded rebel units in battles around the town of Bin Jawad.
â€œI have never been at GuantÃ¡namo,â€ al-Hasadi explained to Il Sole 24 Ore. â€œI was captured in 2002 in Peshawar in Pakistan, while I was returning from Afghanistan where I fought against the foreign invasion. I was turned over to the Americans, detained for a few months in Islamabad, then turned over to Libya and released from prison in 2008.â€ …
In his more recent remarks to Il Sole 24 Ore, al-Hasadi admits not only to fighting against U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but also to recruiting Libyans to fight against American forces in Iraq. As noted in my earlier PJM report here, captured al-Qaeda personnel records show that al-Hasadiâ€™s hometown of Darnah sent more foreign fighters to fight with al-Qaeda in Iraq than any other foreign city or town and â€œfar and away the largest per capita number of fighters.â€ Al-Hasadi told Il Sole 24 Ore that he personally recruited â€œaround 25â€ Libyans to fight in Iraq. â€œSome have come back and today are on the front at Ajdabiya,â€ al-Hasadi explained, â€œThey are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists.â€ â€œThe members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader,â€ al-Hasadi added.
The commentariat of the left is complaining that US forces did not stop the Iraqis from coercively interrogating enemy prisoners. The other big news is the larger involvement of Iran in the Iraq insurgency than the US government publicly reported.
WikiLeaks Bombshell: US Knew Arab Regime Tortured Citizens!!!
Wow. this is the big deal? And what was the US supposed to do if they investigated claims that the Iraqi government tortured its citizens? Invade? Yeah, I bet Julian Assange, the hysterical Left, and their Islamist allies would love that.
It’s the problem with America haters like Assange, Chomsky, and Osama bin Laden: it’s a worldview where America is always in the wrong, no matter what we do.
When we act, it’s evidence of US Imperialism. When we don’t act, it’s evidence of the US not caring about brown people.
We’re damned if we do, we’re damned if we don’t.
Which makes their underlying theory of cause and effect not a theory at all. First because it’s not falsifiable. Second, because all affects are attributed to the same cause.
I think the part of the story that pisses me off the most is that Assange promised us last time he’d do a better job of vetting the documents in order to protect the lives of soldiers and civilians. So, what did he do? Gave al Jazeera complete access to them.
Peter Robinson listened (which I did not), and found it incoherent, grudging, and disgraceful.
Incoherent: The president argued that the war had represented a worthwhile cause, asserting that â€œWe have perseveredâ€¦because of a beliefâ€¦that out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization.â€ Moments later, however, the president insisted that the war had instead been mistaken: â€œWe have spent a trillion dollars at warâ€¦This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits.â€ The president wants to have it both ways, associating himself with the victory we achieved in Iraq while distancing himself from the costs. As argument, this is incoherent. But of course it isnâ€™t argument. Itâ€™s cheap manipulation.
On the occasion of the notional end of the War in Iraq, Randall Hoven examines the popular liberal talking point that it was the Bush deficits incurred because of the Iraq War that wrecked the economy.
It was under Mr Bush that the deficit spiralled out of control as we fought an unnecessary and endless $3,000bn war in Iraq…”
– James Carville, the Financial Times.
“The Iraq adventure has seriously weakened the U.S. economy, whose woes now go far beyond loose mortgage lending. You can’t spend $3 trillion — yes, $3 trillion — on a failed war abroad and not feel the pain at home.”
– Linda J. Bilmes and Joseph E. Stiglitz, The Washington Post.
The correct [figure], according to the Congressional Budget Office, is $709 billion. The Iraq War cost $709 billion. Why Carville, Bilmes, and Nobel-winning economist Stiglitz thought the answer was $3 trillion is anybody’s guess. But what’s a 323% error among friends?
The CBO breaks that cost down over the eight calendar years of 2003-2010. [Above] is a picture of federal deficits over those years with and without Iraq War spending. …
No one will say that $709 billion is not a lot of money. But first, that was spread over eight years. Secondly, let’s put that in some perspective. Below are some figures for those eight years, 2003 through 2010.
* Total federal outlays: $22,296 billion.
* Cumulative deficit: $4,731 billion.
* Medicare spending: $2,932 billion.
* Iraq War spending: $709 billion.
* The Obama stimulus: $572 billion.
There is an important note to go along with that Obama stimulus number: the stimulus did not even start until 2009. By 2019, the CBO estimates the stimulus will have cost $814 billion.
If we look only at the Iraq War years in which Bush was President (2003-2008), spending on the war was $554B. Federal spending on education over that same time period was $574B.
So the following are facts, based on the government’s own figures.
* Obama’s stimulus, passed in his first month in office, will cost more than the entire Iraq War — more than $100 billion
* Just the first two years of Obama’s stimulus cost more than the entire cost of the Iraq War under President Bush, or six years of that war.
* Iraq War spending accounted for just 3.2% of all federal spending while it lasted.
* Iraq War spending was not even one quarter of what we spent on Medicare in the same time frame.
* Iraq War spending was not even 15% of the total deficit spending in that time frame. The cumulative deficit, 2003-2010, would have been four-point-something trillion dollars with or without the Iraq War.
* The Iraq War accounts for less than 8% of the federal debt held by the public at the end of 2010 ($9.031 trillion).
* During Bush’s Iraq years, 2003-2008, the federal government spent more on education that it did on the Iraq War. (State
and local governments spent about ten times more.)
Newsweek Declassified explains that the Times of London story (behind subscription firewall) rocked the Wikileaks team of activists back on their heels. They expect major prizes for investigative journalism, not criticism for exposing informants to reprisals.
Apparently stung by complaints that publishing uncensored U.S. military reports could get people killed, the folks behind WikiLeaks are said to be postponing any further release of such documents.
After the site posted thousands of raw field reports from Afghanistan last week, fears arose that the material might include names or other details that might identify individuals who had collaborated with the Americans. Now, according to two sources familiar with WikiLeaksâ€™ holdings, activists associated with the site are combing through still unreleased material in its possession, trying to â€œredactâ€ potentially life-threatening information. The sources, requesting anonymity when discussing sensitive information, say itâ€™s not clear how long the review process will take. …
Meanwhile, WikiLeaks has posted a link to something it calls an â€œInsurance fileâ€ of 1.4 gigabytes on its Afghan documents page. News reports suggest that this file is heavily encrypted, and the challenge of downloading has certainly proved to be well beyond Declassifiedâ€™s primitive data-processing skills. Connoisseurs of paranoia will enjoy a warning from Iranâ€™s Fars News Agency that the â€œinsuranceâ€ posting may be an American trap to find out whoâ€™s interested in uncovering U.S. government secrets.
As Newsweek Declassified explained (July 27) Wikileaks is sitting on an even larger load of stolen reports, focused on Iraq.
The cache of classified U.S. military reports on the Iraq War as yet unreleased by WikiLeaks may be more than three times as large as the set of roughly 76,000 similar reports on the war in Afghanistan made public by the whistle-blower Web site earlier this week, Declassified has learned.
Three sources familiar with the Iraq material in WikiLeaks hands, requesting anonymity to discuss what they described as highly sensitive information, say itâ€™s similar to this weekâ€™s Afghanistan material, consisting largely of field reports from U.S. military personnel and classified no higher than the “secret” level. According to one of the sources, the Iraq material portrays U.S. forces being involved in a “bloodbath,” but some of the most disturbing material relates to the abusive treatment of detainees not by Americans but by Iraqi security forces, the source says.
Although WikiLeaks founder and principal operative, Julian Assange, provided three news organizationsâ€”The New York Times, London newspaper The Guardian, and the German weekly magazine Der Spiegelâ€”with weeks of advance access to the Afghan War material before making it public himself, heâ€™s apparently being more coy in his handling of the Iraq War material, the source indicates. Assange is keeping tighter personal control over the Iraq material than he maintained over the Afghan material, the source says, adding that itâ€™s not clear whether any media organizations have had advance access to it or when it might be made public.
A second source says there are indications that WikiLeaks has been receiving leaked material from sources besides Bradley Manning, a U.S. Army private who recently was charged by military authorities with illegally handling classified information.