"Jesus wept. You go to sleep on an airplane that stated the destination as "Baghdad" and you wake up somewhere over the fucking rainbow...
Yepper dear readers, the Intrepid Reporter is back in Baghdad... formerly known as the "Club Saddam-A-Go-Go" and it being the favorite third world shooting gallery for Al Queda and the other refuse from the Slums of Syria and Pitfalls of Palestine... well let me tell you... things changed
Got me a hunch that the current IR Reports are going to be a hell of a lot more boring than my writings of yesteryear in '04 and '05. Hell, even '06 with the "Today I washed my sox and my ass during a rocket attack." being the highlights are going to seem positively electric compared to this snoozefest.
INSANELY changed doesn’t begin to describe this place. I’ve landing in Baghdad under fire before and watched random acts of anti-aircraft fire overhead as the locals would try and unsuccessfully utilize old triple a flak guns… I’ve seen Baghdad under lock and key so to speak throughout 04 and 05. NUTHIN and I do mean NUTHIN can begin to describe the change. Quick observations included the fact that the city was all lit up where it had never been before. Try standing on the runway and not having to worry about random acts of rockets, mortars and suchlike. Try no body armor seen on anyone anywhere since I’ve been here… This place is so laid back its stupid... Hell the place I'm currently dossing used to be considered "Indian Country" back in '04... as in the insurgents used to infiltrate through this very area that I'm staying in and try to ambush mo'fo's as they tooled down the hardball..."
What a difference one year makes. The following video shows you shots taken in Baghdad's Dora neighborhood on April 29, 2007 by a reporter embedded with 1/4 Cav., 4th IBCT. Then follow images taken in the same area on October 26, 2008 by someone with 7/10 Cav. 1st IBCT. Hat tip Outsidethewire.
More interesting analysis and commentary over at zombietime.
This victory has of course come at the terrible cost of now close to 4,100 fatalities among US troops, thus not even counting the also not to be underestimated, though of course far smaller, number of casualties among coalition troops. Thousands more have been wounded and maimed. Of those who came out without physical harm, some suffer from PTSD. The human cost also involves broken families, friendships and relations with parents and siblings severed. Taken those 4,100 dead, I don't feel like I should point out that it's "far less" than WWII, Korea, Vietnam or the Civil War. Doing so would make me feel like a douchebag. Every death is a tragedy and as I am typing this, somewhere out there thousands are grieving and hurting and facing shattered lives. So no, I am NOT going to belittle the human sacrifice...
.. but neither am I going to let the Left get away with their blatant hypocrisy and alleged sympathy for the troops. During the five and a half years that the Left was crying crocodile teears over the now 4,100 American servicemen and -women who paid the ultimate price, their legislation facilitated the murder of an estimated six million Americans in the womb of their mother through induced abortions. For those needing even more perspective, consider the following statistic. Over the past summer, an estimated 125 people were shot and killed in Chicago, nearly the double of US military deaths in Iraq during the same period:
Apart from taking out a strategic enemy, the liberation of Iraq was also, and perhaps foremost, about implementing a Battle of Ideas in what is essentially a conflict between two civilizations - the civilized western world vs. the barbaric islamic world. The festering conflict between Israel and the arab world is but the most visible symptom of the major disease of the ummah sphere, namely its unwillingness to live in peace with other peoples and cultures. By 2003, the West, and in particular the US, had been trying to treat that symptom for far too long, using the worn out tactic of endless negotiations. Some would say that the Israeli-Arab conflict is but a sideshow in the whole spectacular dysfunctional show that islam is presenting literally everywhere it gets a foothold. One would be mistaken. Let us not forget that it was because of the 1973 victory of Israel over the arabs that the latter deemed it "right" that the West was punished with higher oil prices, thus causing a severe worldwide recession. Add to that the numerous incursions in the West of islamic terrorists from even before Muenchen to this very day, and it's hard to escape the conclusion that over the pas six decades, the islamic world, and more specifically the Middle East, has been a pain in the ass because of its two major export products, oil and islamic extremism. Anno 2008 I am glad to have witnessed, five years ago, that the West, and in particular the United States, still could spawn a leader like George W. Bush. He had the guts and the character to leave the safe but utterly useless path of smooth talking to muslim barbarians and try instead the radical tactic of forcing democracy upon them. His endeavour was never an easy one, and even though Iraq is now stablised, Al Qaeda defeated, the insurgencies quelled and the Iraqis themselves now seeming to be solving their disputes via parliamentarian votes instead of AK-47's, the ultimate result of the whole undertaking still remains to be seen. However, I WILL gladly put the jubilant "Victory in Iraq Day" banner on this blog, for the troops who made this tactical victory possible deserve it. The larger, strategic victory will be celebrated when one day, non-muslims will be able to walk freely in Mecca and muslim fathers will not kill their daughters, with the support of their wives, because those daughters are dating christians. Is it foolish to even expect such things ever to happen? Perhaps it is. But IF the Bush Administration's Grand Strategy ever fails, it won't be its fault. It handed democracy, rule of law and the tools for constructing a modern, wealthy society to the Iraqis on a silver plate, be it splattered with the blood of thousands of its soldiers. It is now for Iraqis to PROVE that they are worth the American sacrifice. Will they be? It remains to be seen. Just recently, in an ominous development the Iraqi parliament scrapped a provision in the country's electoral law that guaranteed seats for Iraqi Christians. One priest at Baghdad's Sacred Heart Church, Thair al-Sheekh, was quoted as saying "They told us we don't have a place in our government, and we don't know why"...
... so IF, at the end of this all, perhaps decades in the future, the non-muslim part of humanity decides it really has had enough of the followers of an inhumane, intolerant, xenophobic, mysoginic and utterly incurable religion called islam and sees no other way than to turn Mecca in a smoldering radioactive sea of black glass, it won't be because no other things have been tried first.
It is now up to Iraqis. It is up to muslims. The rest of the world is waiting. For the moment, let the troops celebrate their rightful victory, just like British troops celebrated theirs at El Alamein in 1942, when, too, a positive outcome was also by no means certain, but cheers were nevertheless well deserved.