Monday, June 05, 2006

The situation in Iraq

Gateway Pundit (via MP) makes some interesting points on Iraq, and how things are going there:
The recorded Iraqi civilian fatalities (including insurgents, military, morgue counts, police, etc.) were down 16% (16% maximum) in 2005... 38% (48% maximum) less than 2003 (via Leftist anti-war site Iraq Body Count). If you take out the numbers from that horrible day in August 2005 when nearly one thousand panicked Iraqis were trampled or drowned near a Muslim shrine, the year shows striking progress compared to 2003 and 2004 with fatalities one third less than in 2004.
Do read the whole thing. Melanie Phillips notes:
Yes, abuses such as occurred at Abu Ghraib and now maybe Haditha have had a profound effect too. But once again, the way these have been reported -- as if the behaviour of the US military has been as bad as, if not even wose then, the terror perpetrated by Saddam -- has played a major role in breaking the public's spirit. Abuses happen in all military conflicts. Soldiers fighting for the most noble of ends sometimes behave in appalling ways. It's reprehensible, and should be punished. But dwelling upon it obsessively, inflating or distorting what happened and equating such aberrations with systematic tyranny, are all fuelling an atmosphere of hysteria in the west and handing Zarqawi his most potent weapon. If we had behaved like this during World War Two, we would have lost it.
Meanwhile Gene at Harry's Place expands a very interesting, and rarely mentioned, comparison with World War II:
He quotes from a book by Norman Lewis, who was stationed with the British army in Naples toward the end of World War II.
"What we saw was ineptitude and cowardice spreading down from the command, and this resulted in chaos...
"I saw an ugly sight: a British officer interrogating a civilian, and repeatedly hitting him about the head with the chair; treatment which the [civilian], his face a mask of blood, suffered with stoicism. At the end of the interrogation, which had not been considered successful, the officer called on a private and asked him in a pleasant, conversational sort of manner, 'Would you like to take this man away, and shoot him?' The private's reply was to spit on his hands, and say, 'I don't mind if I do, sir.'
"I received confirmation ... that American combat units were ordered by their officers to beat to death [those] who attempted to surrender to them. These men seem very naive and childlike, but some of them are beginning to question the ethics of this order.
"We liberated them from the Fascist Monster. And what is the prize? The rebirth of democracy. The glorious prospect of being able one day to choose their rulers from a list of powerful men, most of whose corruptions are generally known and accepted with weary resignation. The days of Mussolini must seem like a lost paradise compared to us."
Replace "Mussolini" with "Saddam" and you get one of the more mindless criticisms of the invasion of Iraq-- which doesn't stop Michael "Flying Kites" Moore and countless others from repeating it.
Add to Lewis's account the thousands of other atrocities surely committed by Allied forces during World War II, and the hundreds of thousands of German and Japanese civilians killed by the deliberate bombing of their neighborhoods, and the Iraq war seems almost pristine by comparison. And yet who will say that the world isn't a better place for the Allies having fought and defeated the Axis? Who will argue (as some have about Abu Ghraib and Haditha) that the Second World War atrocities were sufficient cause for stopping the fight and going home?
Abu Ghraib and Haditha have sickened me, and those responsible need to be held to account-- up to the highest ranks, including the secretary of defense. Having never experienced combat, I can't begin to imagine how stressful it is. But neither can I imagine any circumstances in which it is justified to shoot defenseless women and children.
And yet I also know that on the coalition side, atrocities are the exception and not a matter of strategy-- in contrast to the other side in the fight.
Do read the whole thing: I think he really strikes the correct balance in this piece.

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