This would be a very funny story. If only it were a joke. It is. But the joke is on us. Which is quite our own fault.
Scene One: An Iraqi city. Irregulars conduct a general
attack on all American targets. A bit of massacring takes place. We are admonished
to put it in perspective: the kidos are frustrated. The Nasty Occupiers underreact
to the provocation. Losing a few of our men is nothing compared to their
frustration. Because the Fighters for God are cleverly embedded amidst
civilian targets not much of what would be possible can be done. That is
because we are (idiotically) committed to respect what they abuse. The Godless
(that is us) have inhibitions against killing “bystanders.” Whether innocent
or not. (Since you asked: mainly “not.”)
Scene Two: In self defense the exasperated Americans shoot
back. Arab news agencies are, naturally quite accidentally, on the scene
to record the ensuing atrocity. That consists of kids being killed who are
sent by knowing adults into the line of fire. You also get a speech from
a ranting cleric denouncing everyone who does not bow to his wishes. Resisting
his killers is especially condemned.
Scene Three. The ugly American Storm troopers encircle
the city. From your knowledge of WWII you would expect that they demolish
with heavy weapons every house from which they are fired upon. And then they
would proceed to liquidate the Cleric and His Affiliated Nuts. Wherever they
might be hiding. The Crusaders demand the surrender of the heroic fighters
who hide in the city. Before it happens they are prepared to negotiate. (About
what and why? Only the confused can tell.) Supposedly, destroying the heroes
who fight for the impunity of nice folks that dismember the dead bodies of
those they had just massacred, would anger the defenders of God. No, this
has to be done with their consent. Otherwise the mad can get even madder.
(Bad people would say, that their surfacing would be a Godsend: as a visible
target they could be helped to their desired martyrdom.) One learns about
angering the irreconcilable from the press.
Scene Four. Negotiations. Cease fire. This allows that
they shoot, nevertheless, when they find good targets. The agreement imposes
restraint on the US forces. To show good will by risking a few good men.
Days later scrap weapons are surrendered. Amidst threatening suicide attacks.
Translation: they are antagonized. Their hearts and minds need to be
won. So nothing that would be a proper reaction happens. Being rational,
“they” are emboldened. The siege looses a lot of good men on the altar of
Scene Five: (Summary: they shoot a little bit and we talk a lot.)
Since this act in the theater of the absurd has not yet taken place, there seem to be two alternatives.
US forces withdraw beyond the range of fire of “Insulted Islamists.” The
Americans stammer half-hearted apologies for their provocations. The Jihadists
promise not to fire and to be “on their best behavior” -- till they find
targets they can reach. After God’s Fighters have a decent chance to enjoy
R&R, the game is resumed at the original beginning of the story. Except,
of course, for the guys who are sent home in coffins.
2. US forces begin to play according to the rules of the “war” they were
forced into by a foe that underestimated them. War being fought like war,
they storm, smother and erase the centers of resistance. They use their superior
firepower to reduce their own casualties. Game over.
The reader is left with the task of choosing the likely end of the story.
He is to determine whether “Scene Five” will be played and if yes, whether
anything close to act “1” or “2” will take place. A last confidential remark:
in choosing, please do not confuse that should be done with what is likely
to be done.
George Handlery is an historian. He has lived and taught in Europe since 1976.
Email George Handlery
this Article to a Friend