The New York Times recently printed another article not worth printing asking where are all the heroes? No Alvin York's or Audie Murphy's. It is obvious to those of us living outside the opaque bubble that our heroes abound. Unfortunately we wouldn't know it if we had to rely on the 'paper of record'.
But we would know of the recent arrival of Cindy Sheehan in Crawford, Texas to get answers why her son died. It is a tough situation because nobody with an ounce of decency wants to pounce on a grieving mother, well the NYT maybe, but what she is doing has unintended consequences. She claims she doesn't want other soldiers to die even though what she is doing is contributing to more soldiers dying by re-enforcing the jihadist belief that America can't take casualties and only encourages them. Sucks but it is true.
I apologize for the lack of formulation of my thoughts but this is how I would answer many of the questions and issues arising from this war.
Now around the time of this photo the Iran-Iraq War had ended. The tanker wars in the Persian Gulf had seized and the world was far more concerned with Iran/Contra than the impending threat from Hussein. By the time Paul was 9 or 10 years old Hussein started another war by invading Kuwait. For the first time we could watch the war via CNN and kudos are deserved.
Unfortunately with this came a new era in the propaganda aspect of war with the 'Highway of Death' cabled into homes world-wide. Americans didn't have the stomach for it and the final death blow was cancelled hours short of complete annihilation. Showing pity on an army that hung Kuwatis from cranes.
The coalition forces had accomplished the UN mandate and Iraq sued for cessation of hostilities. I recall discussing with my father what a bad mistake it was to allow the Republican Guard to escape or to not go after Hussein's regime. Because we were encumbered by a coalition we did not do what was tactically and strategically necessary and finish the adversary off. Unable to fight another day. Because of this my little nephew and his generation woukd likely have to go finish the job in another ten years.
Because we didn't do this, indeed my nephew ended up in Iraq defeating this man's personal urge for power... again.
So was Hussein a threat? You bet. How many wars does it require for those who think otherwise to be convinced? He no sooner got out of one than he started another. Was he a threat to Kuwait? Yes. Was he a threat to Israel? Yes, remember the scuds and the Armageddon images of kids in gas masks? Was he a threat to Saudi Arabia? Yes. Remember the scuds coming down on Riyadh ?
Was he a threat to the US? I don't know you tell me. He attempted to assassinate the President of the United States, George H.W. Bush. That in and of itself is an act of war. His fingerprints are all over the first WTC attack. The bombmaker of that attack fled to Iraq and given sanctuary there. He violated the cessation of hostilities agreement and seventeen UN resolutions. He attacked neutral nation's tankers in the Persian Gulf. He is the supreme eco-terrorist flooding the Persian Gulf with Kuwaiti oil. Remember Carl Sagan and his nuclear winter predictions?
So should we have behaved like a battered wife and simply put up with it hoping that he would change his ways? Putting intervention off would only allow the threat to become more confident until one day he beats us to death. First time shame on him, second time shame on us.
Was Saddam in alliance with Al-Qaeda? Oh yeah, ask the Clinton administration, specifically William Cohen, about Shifa, Sudan, Bin Laden, Iraqi chemical experts. Google it, you'll find plenty. However, magically, once Bush was elected this became a 'oh that was then, this is now' type thing. Terrorist have long range goals, we change ours every two years.
Here's why I have a hard time with those misrepresenting the 9/11 report where we have a statement, ( paraphrasing )'there is no CREDIBLE evidence that Saddam was involved in the 9/11 attack' to become 'there is no evidence of a connection to al-Qaeda'. Here is a fact: Saddam Hussein harbored terrorists that were directly responsible for the death of US citizens.
It is even harder to understand how people, from a culture where an era of gangsters is romanticised, are unable to fathom the concept that people outside the law would collaborate with their rivals or even enemies. Who doesn't understand the line 'Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.' Is it beyond comprehension that Saddam may have used an al-Qadea franchise to achieve his ends, such as fulfilling a cultural urge for revenge against the bombing of his palaces in a manner of plausible deniability?
If he didn't have them why didn't he simply say so? Missed a golden opportunity to embarrass the Western nations. He was given every consideration. Again, is it hard to imagine a coke dealer about to get busted flushing his inventory down the toilet? Consequentially if he were successful and the police didn't find it does that mean he never had the stuff? We don't have a problem with that concept. Is it that unlikely that a man who flew his air force to his local enemy so they wouldn't be destroyed by the US in Gulf War I might be even more likely to disperse his prized weapons in a friendlier state such as Syria. Is that so far-fetched?
So Cindy Sheehan, I feel in my heart that your son died protecting me from a very real and imposing threat and hopefully from keeping the next generation from having to finish the mission. No greater love than to lay down one's life for another. In my eyes your son is a hero and I am proud and humbled to belong to a society that creates such people.
And now about this lawsuit causing the DoD to release photos of the flag-draped coffins:
My nephew, Paul, returned from his first mission to Baghdad in March 2005. He'd been there a year and received a Purple Heart for wounds from a mortar attack on his FOB. Even though he is now married, father of four ( he came home on leave, did his duty and there are now twins ) and married to a great lady, in my mind he is still that little boy dancing in the sprinkler. I can still hear his voice as he wanted me to watch his every jump through it.
I think he joined the Army before the 9/11 attacks so he was motivated by something other than those events. He's a lifer. Has it all planned out. I got to thinking and he is far more mature and self-certain than I was at his age. But he's going back and it concerns me. So here is what I'd say to those that think it is important that we see these coffins.
While Paul was in Iraq every time I heard on the news of soldiers being wounded or killed it is always in the back of my mind if that was Paul. If so how long before I would know, days, weeks? If it was what would his wife do? At the same time I would think; it doesn't matter, it was someone's child, someone's father, mother, brother, sister,friend. Somewhere a little kid is not going to understand why mommy or daddy isn't coming home, in many cases never see the parent. Somewhere a voice will never be heard again, a heart never felt beating in sych or a warm hand held.
Looking at photos of flag-draped coffins is much like a beheading video, you see the first one there really is no need, other than some ghoulish fascination with that sort of thing, to see another. I got the point.
It becomes cruel when politics necessitates this imagery being thrown in the faces of families with loved-ones in harm's way to wonder "Is that how my loved-one will come home?" or even "Is that my loved-one?".
It is the worst of human nature when somebody thinks we need to see more of this. And then blow smoke up our ass that they are 'honoring the fallen'. Pond scum in a three-piece suit.
Finally; ( the reader mumbles 'bout time' )
I'm going to help the NYT out here. Since they can't find any heroes I'm going to tell them how. Done it myself without any assistance.
First you need a reliable tour guide. If you google 'milblog' pretty soon you'll run into some of these IOpian View recommended tour guides to hero location and how to spot hero 'sign'.:
Citizen SMASH The Indepundit
Read some of the accounts from the front and you should begin to conceive that not all heroes are Audie Murphy's, he lived, with his sight intact, with both arms, both legs, no scars and a job when he came home to a culture that supported his mission and his Commander-in-Chief. I do not intend to demean Mr. Murphy in the least but to say some gave more and got less.
So NYT maybe your pre-conceived notion of heroism is a little reality-challenged.
Here is where I found a whole mess of heroes:
Paul came home last March. It is without doubt one of the happiest days of my life. Drove for 5 hours to get to Ft. Hood. We all went to the field where they were to arrive. Turns out Paul wasn't in the first group and didn't get in until around 11:00 PM. So we wait for hours and there isn't much to do but watch people. There was a DJ there playing golden oldies and the little kids would invade the field between ceremonies dancing and chasing and all that hyper-energy stuff they do. Then the ceremony would start, buses pull up and troops dismount out of sight on the other side. The crowd starts to roar as the buses pull away like a stage curtain and there stand the troops. You can not help but be moved. The air is full of happiness. Babies will be conceived tonight. The troops march forward and the big guy gives the speech. Then all hell breaks lose.
Paul didn't show up in the first group. I went in the crowd looking for him. If I saw a soldier standing alone I shook his/her hand and told them I appreciated their service.
Here's my lasting impression; when you observe the troops you realize this isn't an army of the disadvantaged. This is an army of 'choice' citizens. There are the young, the not-so-young, every skin shade under the sun. Looks like a stroll through a mall except everybody is wearing the same thing.
You shake their hand, look them in the eye and there is something there, a professionalism, a comfort in knowing this quality of person represents your country. I've never been called sir that much in my life nor felt so meaningless in comparison to their accomplishments of the last year.
I would reflect too that these people have put their life on hold and their personal sacrifice in their regular life is great. .
NYT... if you can't find any heroes I can tell you where you can find hundreds of thousands of them.