Ever since World War II, soldiers and Marines have followed a simple creed: leave no man behind. In combat units, it's a matter of faith. No one is left on the battle field. During Vietnam, Marines would take casualities to rescue their wounded. It got so bad that commanders had to order units not to get killed rescuing the wounded.
You don't leave people behind. It's simple, it's taught reflexisively. American soldiers do not each other behind. It is a matter of faith.
You may not have a wife or a job when you get home. You may not get home in one piece. But you know one thing as you suit up for another day in the sandbox, they will not leave you behind. No matter what they have to do, they will bring you home, alive or dead. It it understood, it is a compact.
Not any longer.
I understand the arguments for ending the blockade of Sadr City.
Look, I hate to say this. But the US forces were out of line on this. What the hell did they think they were doing blockading and locking down half of Baghdad? Seriously?
What, perhaps they thought the soldier fell down a well? Maybe he hit his head and got amnesia? Could it be that he was abducted and about to be sold into a life of sex slavery? What the hell were they thinking?
It's a war. Its an occupation. There are a thousand attacks a week. A hundred US soldiers are killed each month. Civilians are dying by the thousands each week. The whole country is going to hell. And the one thing that the vast majority of Iraqi's can agree on is that they hate Americans. It's just not a good place.
So an American soldier disappears and the most sensible thing the US military can do is lock down 1.5 million people and set up checkpoints and barbed wire. And the point of this was.... what?
Someone figured all 1.5 million were in on it? Or maybe only 1.2 million? 350,000? What was the plan, were we going to make 1.2 million people turn out their pockets? Or how about if we just announced we were going to turn around, and when we looked back, that missing soldier had better be there?
Was there any plan apart from screwing over and antagonizing 1.5 million people? Investigation perhaps? Police work? Covert ops? Negotiating with go betweens? Or was it just a matter of the dumbest thing anyone could come up with. Did someone say, 'Hey, its a million to one shot, but theres' a million people there... so statistically, its got to work!' Or was it 'Wow, this is a really dumb and counterproductive plan, but we can't think of anything better and we don't want to do nothing.'
I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens when a cat gets stuck up a tree.
I mean seriously, why not, eh? What could be the downside of being in Iraq, radically undermanned, in a hostile enviroment, and just going all punitive and antogonizing the entire population?
And what a great message to hand to Iraqi's who are picking up bodies at the morgue with drill holes every day? "Our lives are worth infinity, and your lives are worth shit." 650,000 dead Iraqi's and 2800 dead Americans translate to 230 dead Iraqi's for every dead American, and just to show them where they really stand, you went out of your way to screw over 1.5 million for the sake of one guy.
Do we blockade an American city every time a pretty white girl goes missing? A kid? A cop?
So what comes out of this. Guaranteed, you don't find the soldier cause that's the most screwed up approach you could take. What you will bet is 1.5 million screwed over angry people. And Sadr or even more militant groups get 10,000 new recruits and sympathizers. And over the next few months, thousands of additional attacks, and hundreds of extra dead Americans.
This isn't Saving Private Ryan, or Indiana Jones, its not Blade or Die Hard. Its not the movies, because in the movies mawkish sentiment wins. This is real life, and in particular, this is war, and its hard and its ugly and painful and mawkish sentiment will not save the day. Instead, we get horrible fatal math. The Iraqi's are very familiar with that math.
Do I disagree with this? No. It's logical.
But the point of this, no matter how extensive the exercise is this: we don't leave our soldiers behind. They discomforted Sadr City. So what do Maliki's bosses do? Demand he force us to leave.
And US forces leave.
What does the media talk about? John Kerry saying the troops are stupid. Which matters why?
CENTCOM has just abandoned a US trooper to the tender mercies of the Mahdi Army. Think hard about that, because every grunt will be. When you're captured by the enemy, the US Army will try to rescue you, when convienent. Otherwise, hold your head up on your video before they kill you.
At least the Israelis are willing to make a deal for their missing soldiers. The US just stops looking for them.
Now, maybe this guy ran away, maybe not. But no matter what, soldiers need to know his fate.
The right wing media wants to talk about anything else but Iraq. They want to spin this Kerry story, hoping you won't notice the US Army has abandoned a soldier in the field.
I don't imagine morale recovering from this. Because nothing says pointless as taking orders from Sadr on how to conduct US operations.
posted by Steve @ 3:18:00 PM