- Published: Wednesday, 21 June 2006 00:00
No matter how a person feels about the war in Iraq, or the rationale for having started it, or how it was managed, or whether or not we should be there still, it is increasingly clear that somehow, some way, despite the inertia of history and the fickle meddling of politics, progress is being made in the most unlikely of places. But epic progress is costly.
On average, we lose several soldiers each day in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our people who fight in these lands face an often savage enemy. How else to describe people who resort to barbarism to assert a claim to power for which their very barbarism declares them unfit? If cutting off a child’s head will get attention for thirty seconds, they’ll do it. If cutting out a child’s intestines and sticking a bomb in her belly to kill her mom or dad will send a message of fear to other moms and dads, they’ll do it. Sometimes, the children are just convenient cover:
The soldiers told me of a suicide bombing that betided their post the day before the elections. In a particularly gruesome display of insurgent character, the bomber had grabbed the hand of a girl, about five, and used her for cover to approach the IPs. The explosion occurred just yards away from the roof where I stood with the soldiers. Eight people and that little girl were killed that day. Unlike in Baquba where such attacks are common, attacks are relatively rare in this part of Iraq. Perhaps because of that, or maybe just because of the callous way the bomber eviscerated an innocent child, the incident seemed to leave a deep imprint on the soldiers who witnessed it.
» Tennessee in Iraq
Terrorist attacks on children, while devastating to loved ones and witnesses, often backfire because those attacks so clearly show the true nature of the enemy.
In the overheated exchanges that too often substitute for reasoned political discourse, definitions and distinctions can blur. But there is a huge difference between Coalition forces and the wanton, sociopath terrorist with no vestige of honor, who knows nothing but destruction and has no plan for the future other than the subjugation of others while on the path to some psychotic pathology inured by tribal culture and carcinogenic beliefs that will, if left untouched, leave people living in mud huts and slitting throats of historical enemies for another thousand years, or, if slightly more science-minded, leave them seeking nuclear weapons to reach out and destroy the world.
We did not create this evil, although it does reveal itself more sharply by comparison in the presence of decent people. When the tactics of an enemy cross the line, sentient peoples recognize that they are no longer entitled to be called opposing forces, insurgents, freedom fighters, revolutionaries, or Jihadists—they are terrorists.
On any given day a coyote is a pesky but minor threat to the other inhabitants of his world. An opportunist by nature, he picks off the scraps and is quick to skulk away from any vigilant creature. Coyote packs can wreak havoc for the unguarded but once alerted even the pack is no match. But even those who manage to admire the wily scavenger will recognize that once it goes rabid, it must be put down. No living creature is safe while a rabid predator roams.
No. Our people who have truly stared into the face of this terrorist demon have seen the ruby glow in its eyes. This is not a myth. This is not a politically contrived caricature, this demon is real. It usually stalks the easy prey—children, women in crowds, families focused on prayer, rescue workers responding to people in need. Some terrorists manage to get our soldiers.
Just days ago, Specialist David J. Babineau, 25, of Springfield, Mass., was killed in combat near Baghdad. Two of his comrades, also our soldiers, PFC Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and PFC Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Oregon, were apparently captured alive.
If they were captured alive, this is a rare occurrence in Iraq. But when I heard the news, my heart sank, for I knew that likely they had been captured not by noble “freedom fighters,” but by true demons. I tried not to imagine their fates but memory provided all too many possibilities, all too real.
Our soldiers apparently were horribly tortured, and bombs were emplaced to kill those who would find them. In the days ahead as we learn the details, I hope that Americans can muster the same incredible courage I have seen ordinary Iraqis rise to on countless occasions. If we do, then despite the reflexive pull back caused by the horror of these murders, our commitment to put down the terrorists who committed these murders will be redoubled.
Let our brave men be remembered with dignity and great honor, for they died in hell while fighting the devil himself.