Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Split Second Decision

I am not a supporter of the Iraq War, but here's some proof that our troops over there can display humanity and political acumen all at a moment's notice. This from an article in the SF Chronicle about veterans views of the war, concerning a Marine Corporal Squad leader in Ramadi. Samarov is a Marine Major from SF:

"Samarov told the story of how a group in his unit rounded a corner one day and came on an Iraqi funeral procession, which, in traditional fashion, featured both gunfire and shouts. What to do in such a case? Draw your weapons in defense? Protect the procession in case there is violence? Disrupt the procession by passing? Such a situation isn't covered in any field manual. Making a split second decision, a young corporal ordered the troops to lower their guns, remove their helmets and bow. The Iraqis, after a pause, broke into applause. It was a brilliant stroke. Samarov said there was never again any problem in that neighborhood. And it was the result of trying to pull the best possible idea out of thin air and hoping it is the right choice."

Semper Fi'.


Anonymous Wiggy said...

And it was the result of trying to pull the best possible idea out of thin air and hoping it is the right choice.

I'm not sure, but I think his choice worked because he pulled the idea from his heart and not his head...

8:33 AM  
Blogger Harry said...

I quite agree. Humanity nearly always comes ultimately from the heart.

Glad to see you still commenting by the way. I miss your page.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

I think the writer of that article is using a bit of melodrama. But then, I'm an eternal cynic. Anyone who has been "in coiuntry" any length of time ought to know about Iraqi funeral custonms, and it should have been blatanly obvious that that was the case here. And I'm sure it was obvious to the Marines. BTW - Harry - You once claimed I never criticized the right. I thought you might like to see this. And this isn't the first and only time that I've done so:


11:07 AM  
Blogger Harry said...

Indeed, Mark, he's a journalist who was once a sportswriter doing a kind of general interst column, so a little dramatic license is no surprise. Still, being in coutnry and understanding cutsomes does not guarantee a good result. There are plenty of examples of US troops not showing that kind of spot-on common sense, humanity, or what have you. I have inside scoop that some things the 82nd Airborne did in Fallujah in the days previous to the Marines arriving made things very difficult for any Marine efforts to connect with that part of the community not supportng the insurgency there. There was a apparently very little thought given, by officers as well as enlisted men of the future consequences of actions taken toward the community at large.
Contrast that with the famous moment when a unit commander from the 101st Airborne encountered a mob onthe street leading to the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf. If I get time to find the link I'll post it. It was another brilliant political maneuver by a US serviceman.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Harry said...


This describes the scene in Najaf. I remember watching this live on CNN, it was a remarkable moment. I think a lot of our troops are much like the Sgt. quoted earlier in the article. Speaks well for the training. Then again, a few months later I believe, the Marines went into the huge graveyard behind the Imam Ali mosque and got inot a 72 hour firefight with insurgents. That probably didn't do much for gaining hearts and minds, even if the insurgents were using it themselves to launch strikes on the Marines.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Harry said...

Oh My Gdo! My tipyng has gone to hell agenn.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Harry said...

Well, Shut My Mouth, Mark! I never thought I'd see the day. Congratulations! He IS a moron, in so many ways. Not so much because he's just a plain dummy, but because he seemingly refuses to see beyond his own narrow paradigm. The world doesn't work in narrow ways.

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Wiggy said...

Glad to see you still commenting by the way. I miss your page.

I'm sure I'll start up again when I move back into "manic mode", playfully and mischievously teasing and all, sometime after the holidays and with the bursting forth of spring... (especially towards Mark... ;-)

2:22 PM  
Anonymous Wiggy said...

But then, I'm an eternal cynic.

Nah!! Really??

2:23 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

"mischievously teasing and all, sometime after the holidays and with the bursting forth of spring... (especially towards Mark... ;-)"

Yeah, I can hardly wait. At least you don't get all insulted by comments that aren't even directed at you!

3:47 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

"Well, Shut My Mouth, Mark! I never thought I'd see the day."

I keep telling people I never voted for the man, and I don't support him. I support the War in Iraq. I don't support Bush's war because it isn't Bush's war. It's the international community's war on terror, whether they choose to help or not.


The same peeps claiming to support the war in Afghanistan as a "just" war, but not the effort in Iraq as an "illegal" war will be marching against an effort to oust Ahmadinejad when it comes to that. Note I said when, not if.

I don't believe that any of it is inseperable, for all the reasons I have stated in the past.

3:52 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

"The same peeps claiming to support the war in Afghanistan as a "just" war, but not the effort in Iraq as an "illegal" war will be marching against an effort to oust Ahmadinejad when it comes to that."

Not me, Old Boy. I supported the move into Afghanistan. The move against Iraq, illegal or not, was wrong-headed, and we were lied to shamelessly in the process of buildup, on many levels. Moving aginst Iran is something that should've happened a while ago. Had Bush rattled his sabre atthe mullahs, I would've been supporting it. Saddam was dying on the vine, while the Iranians were building strength and ire and were clearly supporting multiple terror groups.

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the risk of sounding racist, all Muslim governm,ents support terror. And Hip makes a good point about us being in Iraq foir strategic reasons.

All this fuss here about legal, illegal, lies is just bulldshit by many o relive the sixties. Some people need to get a grip and wake up.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

And I can't type for shit tonight.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Don said...

War in Afghanistan vs Iraq vs Iran.

I see it is highly disingenuous for people who oppose our Iraq war to then support an action against Iran. Iran has done far less to provoke military action than Iraq ever did, and going back to the ~2003 timeframe when decisions were being made, was by no means a more obvious threat. Strategically, of course the Persians are a bigger worry than a fractured and multicultural state like Iraq. But our worry was not quite that geo-strategic. Our concern was the likelihood that, with or without Saddams' help, Iraq would become a staging ground for attacks against the U.S., an Afghanistan writ large, with the resources, talent, internal chaos and location to wreak some serious havoc. That they didn't have nukes does not disguise that they did have the infrastructure and the will to develop and deliver them given half a chance, toothless UN sanctions and European perfidy.

8:31 AM  
Blogger Harry said...

It's not disindgenuous at all. Iran has been an emerging threat for years. Iraq was indeed a fractured state, with a deeply degraded infrastructure, under tight observation, with a hopelessly corrupt government which a completely secular outlook that didn't allow for it to trust an organization like Al Qaeda, which was first and foremost our greatest threat. Iran, on the other hand, is a theocracy with far more well structured armed forces, run by people who have excoriated the US since 1979. We had Saddam under our boot. Iran has been a bigger threat since we whipped Saddam's ass in '91. Iran has actually had a verified nuclear program for a long time. With Saddam we were only guessing, using bad intel to boot. The howling about it's programs and the possibility of it's rebuilding this and that weapons system was just that. The evidence they used to support it was shaky at best, and they had plenty of indications on that before they went to war.

To Anonymous, this has nothing to do with reliving the Sixties. It has everything to do with being lied to by the administration to get us into a war that was then a hopelessly bungled cock up almost from the start, that didn't need to be fought.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

I was the anonymous one, Harry, and I agree with Hip. It is extremely disingenuous.

Why aren't all those on the Left opposed to the war in Iraq shouting down Ahmadinejad? Because it flies in the face of their view of Israel as government-sponsored terrorist.

8:01 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Mark, I can't speak for all those on the Left. I only speak for myself. Perhaps in their case, it is disingenuous. Perhaps, having been so antiwar, they can't bring themselves to turn around and call for what will have to be a brutal response to Iran. For myself only, I don't feel the least bit disingenuous, perhaps because I'm not really antiwar. I still think that war should be something we have to do, not something we want to do to hurry up an agenda. In the case of Afghanistan, I think there's no doubt it was right. In the case of Iraq, I think it was completely elective, with no worthwhile basis. In the case of Iran, I wish we had kept our resources from Iraq, built up our presence on Iran's eastern border and along it's southern coast, and given them pause to consider. Now, with us bogged down in Iraq and a Shiite majority next door with whom they've insinuated themselves in all kinds of ways, they feel powerful, knowing we'd have to deal with Iraq at the same time as dealing with them. We're not presently equipped to do that. We're in a weaker position than we needed to be, and Iran was a growing threat long before we invaded Iraq, for reasons I mentioned earlier, with a history of directly harming Americans and supporting terrorism on a scale that Saddam never matched, especially against Israel.

9:13 AM  
Blogger Don said...

I wish we had kept our resources from Iraq, built up our presence on Iran's eastern border and along it's southern coast, and given them pause to consider.

What in heaven's name does this mean? Where? How? Move troops into Pakistan and back into Saudi Arabia? I don't theenk so. We moved troops into Kuwait to lend weight to UN demands of Saddam, and it was the only place we could put them. Is there a concomitant list of UN demands for Iran to answer to? No, and that's my point. They look dangerous, but they are too smart to actually do anything overt until they are truly untouchable. To have gone after them before, or do so now, would be wrong by any standard. You advocate rattling sabres at them until ... when? Until we've given them pause to consider creating a "defensive" nuclear arsenal? We can't go in, and they know it. Unlike Saddam, they have no history of attacking neighbors and defying countless UN sanctions. There's nothing we can do directly, and they know it. Whereas Iraq was a strategic oportunity in Iran's back yard that we could not afford to pass up. There's now a big American boot on the road from Tehran to Damascus, soon to turn into a big anti-fascist anti-Persian Arab boot. Whether to get rid of Saddam or tie up Iran, going into Iraq was in fact the right thing to do. So long as we stay the course, and providing Iran's nuclear program is pressured so far underground it's of little use to them, then doing Iraq was a big win. Politically dishonest? Oh well. The world turns on results.

2:06 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

"Where? How?"

We had several divisions in Afghanistan. Remember? October 2001? Does that ring a bell? We had a large presence in the Gulf, in fact all over the Indian Ocean. As for the boot, what we have is a military presence on the road from Damascus to Tehran, which is currently completely occupied with the insurgency in Iraq. It's under equipped, exhausted, and we have no real idea what kind of govenrment will emerge from the elections. Where do you get the idea that it will be anti-fascist and anti-Persian? Who said anything about rattling sabres? I didn't advocate rattling sabres. I advocated having forces in position and making sure that they were aware of the consequences of bad behavior. We can't go in, and they can't make a move. In the meantime, Saddam was withering away, embargo violations not withstanding. We didn't have to do anything to him other than bomb the shit out his forces anytime they moved, which we were already doing. Expensive perhaps, but far cheaper than money we've spent on that benighted place since March '03. AS for staying the course, what course? What does that really mean? Bush keeps uttering that phrase but refuses to tell us what the course really is? What's the eventual outcome beyond some nebulous platitudes about freedom on the march? Now we're stuck with that place for who knows how many years. Our military is being degraded by the experience, and there's no good way out of it. The idea of the large democratic presence in the gulf doesn't really free us for anything. We'll have to stay there to prop it up. We'll be back where we started at the cost of several thousand lives lost, an immense amount of international prestige, and a damaged military. Iran will continue its support of terrist groups and we'll continue to do nothing. the only difference is that It'll be Allawi and Chalabi instead of Saddam. Where's the ultimate good result beyond the removal of Saddam?

3:05 PM  
Blogger Don said...

I don't know why it's always been clear to me when it isn't to so many others; but "stay the course" means "prop it up" as you say until the Iraqis, who are showing a remarkable interest in having a functioning democracy, can take care of things themselves. Of course they will not be a reliable ally. So what? So long as they aren't encouraging terrorism and are also a discouraging presence against Iranian machinations, then it's all good.

We are, after all, America, which means we will find an excuse to pull out and pretend all is well. I interpret staying the course as not giving up on them too long before they are ready for us to. Once the motivation for local support for Zarqawi et al. has truly had the rug pulled out from under it, a process very much under way, then we will pull out.

Iran knows this too which is why Iran lends logistical support to the insurgency. But Arab Shi'ites are not necessarily going to go along en masse with Persian Shi'ites. Should they get properly organized, i.e. with a more or less equitable democracy in place, then there's cause to be optimistic and start bringing troops home. Bush no doubt wants that pullout as part of his legacy, but not with a failure attached.

BTW Allawi and Chalabi are not the wave of the future in Iraqi politics. And it's way too soon, but I wouldn't scoff at the idea of Sistani earning himself a Nobel. Talk about nuanced leadership.

Oh and the embargo was weakening. It was only a matter of time, and not much of it, before the UN would life it "for the children".

5:15 PM  
Blogger Mark said...


5:23 PM  
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9:18 AM  

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