Monday, March 24, 2003
Judged against a Sheryl Crow standard of total peace, harmony and happiness everywhere in the world, then yesterday was a disaster. If, however, the appropriate standard against which to compare is the number of Americans who will not die as a result of Hussein staying in power, then yesterday's casualties are well justified.
From a military perspective, a number of yesterday's casualties are a foreseeable consequence of the strategy to attack Iraq in the way we are - a race to Baghdad, bypassing the regular Iraqi military and with little support for our flanks and supply convoys. Would a different approach resulted in fewer coalition casualties? Well, nuking Iraq certainly would have left fewer Iraqis shooting at Americans. Absent going to that extreme, maybe there would have been fewer casualties with a different strategy, maybe there would have been more, it's impossible to say.
A number of other casualties resulted from human error (the downing of the British fighter and the wrong turn supposedly made by the US maintenance group) and from equipment failure (the helicopter crash in Afghanistan). It's hard to see how any of these events add up to major setbacks or reveal significant deficiencies in any area.
Some are saying that the video of American POW's will bolster our cause in the world of public opinion. To this, I say no way. Those who hate us will view the tape with glee and will be inspired. Those who support us need no more reasons to do so. Those in the middle, such as many anti-war Americans, will change the subject - the tape certainly doesn't help their cause or advance their arguments, but it's not enough for them to admit they were wrong. Remember that many, not all but many, anti-war arguments started with the acceptance that Hussein was evil. After all, was there a single Hollywood celebrity last night who condemned the treatment of American prisoners? They bitch if some prison inmate doesn't get cable TV; for this they have no opinion?
The same dynamic holds for American efforts to avoid Iraqi civilian and military deaths - even to the extent that these efforts are leading to coaltion casualties. To those who hate us, it won't matter - none of them are going to lessen their hatred becuse of this. Nobody (in this camp) changed their mind about the Israelis after the Israelis suffered losses in the Jenin refugee camp, it won't happen with us. In fact, to many in this group, our approach only furthers their feelings that America is weak and lacks the conviction to do what is necessary.
Which is why the war for the minds of the Arab street is misguided at best. It would be great for them to like and support America. But I can't see this happening - ever. Certainly not in my lifetime - nor my kids, their kids, or their grandkids. And, since the Arab/Islamic street is not going to like us, the best we can hope for is for them to fear us. And, that's not going to happen with us prosecuting the war in the way we are.
And, a final thought on the US soldier accused of the fragging. As reported, he's Muslim, apparently a convert, who changed his name (no big deal there) who opposed the war! Am I wrong to wonder just why this guy was allowed to be in a sensitive, forward area? Let's see: we don't allow homsexuals in the military because of the fear that it might lead to a loss of unit cohesion, but we don't worry about the effect of anti-war Muslims in the ranks?