Friday, December 02, 2005

Live from Baghdad

A couple of days ago I was back in the Green Zone; I drove between offices with a colleague of mine, and as we were nearing a traffic circle, an Iraqi Police car jumped in front of us and slowed us down. In the traffic circle, several Iraqi soldiers jumped out to secure the area for a convoy passing through. The Iraqi police and army units looked very well trained and well equipped, and I was reminded of the attack last July 14, where a group of these policeman successfully fought off a triple suicide bombing attack on a police station at the gates of the IZ. We heard what was happening through the intercom at that Presidential Palace, and it was so great to find out about the outcome and the Iraqi police’s bravery a little later. These kinds of things make us so proud to see; it’s definitely a perk of living and working here.

David Brooks had another great column in the Times a few days ago, talking about our failure to honor the current heroes of this war. Here is a very important insight:

…why aren't there more stories about war heroes like Christopher Ieva? The casual courage he and his men displayed is awe-inspiring, but most Americans couldn't name a single hero from this war. That's because despite all the amazing things people are achieving in Iraq, we don't tell their stories back here. That's partly because in the post-Vietnam era many Americans - especially those who dominate the culture - are uncomfortable with military valor. That's partly because some people don't want this war to seem like a heroic enterprise. And it's partly because many Americans are aloof from this whole conflict, and couldn't tell you a thing about Operations Matador and Steel Curtain and the other major offensives.

Brooks is absolutely right. But thanks to Michael Yon, we are learning more about the people who are fighting here, with more detail than we ever thought possible before.

Now allow me to digress:
I am a subscriber to Times Select, but I wish they would change the subscription process so you could subscribe to only the columnists you like. I would subscribe to Brooks, Friedman, and Tierney. Note to Mr. Keller- you will rake in significantly more cash from Times Select if you allow us to just subscribe to our columnists. Fact is, if you have read five columns from Krugman, Rich, Herbert, or Dowd, you have a representative sample and you don’t need to read them anymore. Doesn’t it trouble you that on any given day, a reasonably intelligent person can guess what the gist of these peoples’ columns will be? It would kill me to know I am paying these people to write the same column every week. In fairness, however, Krugman has explored some actual issues lately with his columns about health care. It’s such a refreshing change from the usual, predictable Christianophobic Bush-bashing.

Now, to address the broader issue of Brooks’ statement “And it's partly because many Americans are aloof from this whole conflict, and couldn't tell you a thing about Operations Matador and Steel Curtain and the other major offensives.” Why is that? Well, I don’t mean to stir the pot with my fellow conservatives here, but our President has never once asked us for a day of prayer coinciding with a major offensive. He has never gone on TV to ask us to support any particular operation, exercising the influence that only his office can. It is very regrettable that we hear about these major military operations from news sources who place them right between the news about Nick and Jessica, and the latest American obesity statistics.

Even more broadly, have we as Americans been asked to sacrifice anything in this war? Have we been asked to change our consumption patterns in any way so as to drive down the price of oil and drain the funding to the terrorists killing our soldiers? And if only military families are sacrificing in this war, how can the rest of us be expected to feel some sense of ownership of it and more than a passing interest in it? Unfortunately, the President wants things both ways. He wants our soldiers to perform remarkably well, and he wants our country to never be inconvenienced in our consumption of the oil that funds our enemies’ IEDs. So from David Brooks we hear of our troops’ valor, and in other places, we read of the oil-funded movement of people and munitions in support of the insurgency. Our President wants both, and he is getting both. The tragedy is, it doesn’t have to be that way.


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12:57 AM  

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