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How Not To Win a War
by Peter Glasser
12 December 2003Iraqi Flag

If we are to win the war in Iraq, we must place the armed forces in the hands of real warriors.


Several months ago four military police from a Pennsylvania-based Army Reserve unit were accused of abusing prisoners of war at Camp Bucca in Iraq.  There had been problems with enemy prisoners prior to the event.   An email sent by SSgt. Scott Mackenzie, one of the four MPs, to a family member said:

"We've had a couple riots here earlier in the EPW holding area. We were attacked and assaulted with rocks and stones, but held our position for 30 minutes until approximately 500 armed soldiers in full battle equipment came to help and try to stop the riot. Two prisoners had to be shot during the riot. This took place on Palm Sunday. Four days later during another uprising two more prisoners were shot, with one being killed because he attempted to kill an
MP with a steel tent stake."

A month later, on May 12, ten soldiers from the 320th Military Police Battalion were taking in 44 enemy POWs from a bus to a processing center.  According to the Los Angeles Times, a newspaper not noted for excessive liberalism, the bad guys included "nine Syrians, two Iraqi policemen, a Baath Party general and an Iraqi who had been interrogated in connection with the execution of an American POW."  I supposed the Syrians could have been tourists, or businessmen there to buy camel dung, and the general probably joined the Baath Party because he thought it was a hot tub group and he'd get to meet some attractive young women in bikinis.  According to the LA Times, one prisoner kicked an MP's leg, and a second grabbed another soldier's wrist and had to be subdued, all this in a setting in which 10 US soldiers were surrounded by 44 of the bad guys.  Our four MP's were then charged with using excessive force in subduing this resistance. 

In another situation, Lt. Colonel Allen West was relieved of command and charged with mistreating an Iraqi prisoner (a policeman) after shooting a gun during an interrogation and threatening to kill the man.  During the incident, the prisoner provided the names of two accomplices and told of another sniper attack planned for the following day.  Subsequent to the interrogation, the local attacks ceased.  Col. West's tactic was successful, despite the current politically correct belief that torture is not as effective a tactic for eliciting vital information as other approaches.  I guess it just goes to prove that a well known gangster of the 1930s was right when he said "You get more cooperation from people with a gun and a kind word than you do with a kind word alone."

I suspect that these are only two of many similar incidents in which our government has been extremely diligent in making sure that we are nice enough to the enemy.  It does not seem to matter to the left that the rules of "civilized warfare" were conceived in an era when uniformed and clearly identified military forces met on a defined battlefield and enemy troops out of uniform were considered spies and routinely tortured and executed without trial.  It does not seem to matter to them that we are in a war for the very survival of our way of life, our freedom and our existence, nor does the fact that we are fighting an enemy that has no concept of such niceties as "the rules of warfare."

The mentality of being more concerned with the enemy's well being than that of our own military personnel or the success of our military mission is already having its effect.  In late June the brother of another one of the four Camp Bucca MPs, MSgt. Lisa Girman, wrote that his sister had told him "Over this past weekend, four Iraqi prisoners escaped from their compound [at Camp Bucca].  When the MP on duty was asked why he did not attempt to prevent the escape, either by physical contact or firing a shot, the MP replied that he was in fear of being charged with a crime."

If we continue down the current path, we may well lose this war.  If we are to win it, we must root out from our military all those who are steeped in, and profess the current political correctness of, waging a kinder, gentler war, and leave the armed forces in the hands of real warriors.   War is always the last resort of civilized nations.  By the time one reaches the point of warfare it is reasonable to assume that all other, more gentle avenues, of activity have been exhausted.   No matter how kind we are to the enemy, they will still fight in as brutal a manner as they wish to.   Despite our using western standards in the treatment of prisoners, Al Qaeda executed a captured U.S. Navy Seal in view of his comrades within seconds of his capture in Afghanistan.   Despite our using western standards in the treatment of POWs, Lori Piestewa and other members of the 507th Maintenance were executed at the scene of their capture and Jessica Lynch was raped. 

We need to support our troops as they do whatever is necessary to the other side.  We did not prevail over Japan in World War II by having better technology that resulted in the production of the atomic bomb; we prevailed because we were willing to use the bomb on the other guy.  The only time we should be concerned with fair treatment of the enemy is when they have ceased being the enemy by virtue of completely ending all hostilities against us and surrendering all their weapons.

Of course to do this would require elected officials who have, as their first and foremost goal, the survival of this nation and its people.


Peter Glasser, an accountant, is a former local elected official and writes a weekly column for the Claysville Weekly Recorder.

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