Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

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Monday, August 6, 2007

Two Stories Worth Reading On the Surge

Both are well worth reading. The first comes from Bill Kristol @ The Weekly Standard:

Hot July brings cooling showers, / Apricots and gillyflowers, as Sara Coleridge's doggerel has it. But for the American antiwar movement, this July brought only a cold drizzle, wilted blossoms, and bitter fruit.

For the Iraq war's opponents, July began as a month of hope. It ended in retreat. It began with Democratic unity in proclaiming the inevitability of American defeat. It ended with respected military analysts--Democrats, no less!--reporting that the situation on the ground had improved, and that the war might be winnable. It began with a plan for a series of votes in Congress that were supposed to stampede nervous Republicans against the continued prosecution of the war. It ended with the GOP spine stiffened, no antiwar legislation passed, and the Democratic Congress adjourning in disarray, with approval ratings lower than President Bush's. It began with Democratic presidential candidates competing in their antiwar pandering. It ended with them having second thoughts--with Barack Obama, losing ground to Hillary Clinton because he seemed naive about real world threats, frantically suggesting that he would invade Pakistan.

July also began with the liberal media disparaging the troops. It ended with the liberal media in retreat. The New Republic had to acknowledge that its pseudonymous soldier's account of an incident purportedly showing the dehumanizing effects of the Iraq conflict was a lie: It had taken place in Kuwait (if it happened at all), before this imaginative private ever saw the horrors of war. The New York Times was so shocked to discover in late July that public opinion hadn't continued to move against the war that it redid a poll. The answer didn't change.

This last incident, though minor, is revealing. On July 24 the Times reported that a new survey had found an increase in the number of Americans retrospectively backing the liberation of Iraq:

Americans' support for the initial invasion of Iraq has risen somewhat as the White House has continued to ask the public to reserve judgment about the war until at least the fall. In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted over the weekend, 42 percent of Americans said that looking back, taking military action in Iraq was the right thing to do, while 51 percent said the United States should have stayed out of Iraq. . . . Support for the invasion had been at an all-time low in May, when only 35 percent of Americans said the invasion of Iraq was the right thing and 61 percent said the United States should have stayed out.

In the Times's view, as explained on its website, this result was "counterintuitive"--so much so that the editors had the poll repeated to see whether they had "gotten it right." Turns out they had.

As the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto commented: "Well, two cheers for the paper's diligence, but this also seems to be about as close as we're going to get to an admission of bias: an acknowledgment that those at the Times are flummoxed that the public is not responding the way they expect to all the bad news they've been reporting."

Please, read the whole thing. Following up that piece, you should read the new report Michael Totten has posted. It is an interview he conducted with an Iraqi interpreter used by the US military. There is a picture of him at the top of the article wearing a US Army uniform, cap, and mask; all to protect his identity from insurgents and terrorists. A snippet of the interview:

Iraqis who are not American citizens and who work as interpreters for the American military cover their faces when they work outside the wire. Mahdi Army militiamen and Al Qaeda terrorists accuse of them of collaboration with the enemy. They and their families are targetted for destruction.

Here is the story of one such interpreter who works with the 82nd Airborne Division in Baghdad. He calls himself “Hammer.”

MJT: Why do you work with Americans?

Hammer: When I was 14 years old all I liked was American cars and American movies. America was my dream. It was a dream come true when the United States Army came to Iraq. It was a nightmare in 1991 when they left again.

Maybe someone will think I’m lying, that I’m just saying this. If my friends say something like Russian weapons are the best or German cars are the best I say, no, Americans are. Everyone who knows me knows this about me.

If anyone says Arabs will win against the U.S. they are wrong. The leaders don’t want to be like Saddam. But if the US leaves Iraq it will be a big failure, especially for me. I don’t want to see this. Never.

MJT: Do you like working with Americans?

Hammer: A lot. Especially when I go outside the wire. I feel like a stranger here. When I go back inside I’m home. I have no friends outside, only family. When I go home I stay in my house. I don’t go out on the streets.

MJT: Why don’t you have any friends?

Hammer: I don’t feel like I belong to this society. They think like each other, but they don’t think like me. I can’t continue with them.

I like to know something about everything, to learn as much as I can. In Iraq if you know too much they will laugh and call you a liar.

When I was 20 I liked American music. They don’t like it. (Laughs.)
I don’t like Saddam. I hate his family.

MJT: Why do you have to cover your face?

Hammer: To protect my family. My family lives in Iraq. If they go to the U.S. I won’t have to do it. But I don’t want anyone to know me, to follow me and see where I live and kill my wife and son.

MJT: How did you feel when the U.S. invaded Iraq?

Hammer: Happy. It was like I was living in a jail and somebody set me free. I don’t want Saddam ruling me. Never. I was just waiting and waiting for this moment.

MJT: What do you think about the possibility of Americans leaving?

Hammer: It is like bad dream. Very bad dream. A nightmare. Worse than that. Like sending me back to jail. Like they set me free for four years then sent me back to jail or gave me a death sentence.

MJT: Tell us about living under Saddam Hussein.

Hammer: It was crazy life, like feeling safe inside a jail. If they sent you to an actual jail nothing changed. They arrested everyone, literally everyone, for no reason and sent them to jail for two weeks just so they could see the jail.

I went there three times. The first time because I worked for a movie company. They sent all of us to jail. It had nothing to do with me.

I was given a three year sentence. My family has money, so I paid the judge 50,000 dollars. I gave it directly to the judge, plus four new tires for his car and a satellite TV. He gave me a three month sentence instead of a three year sentence. He scratched “3 years” off my sentence and wrote “3 months” in by hand.

They sent me to Abu Ghraib. I saw so many things. If you want me to talk about that I would need a whole newspaper.

MJT: Tell us a little about Abu Ghraib.

Hammer: On the bus to the jail I didn’t have handcuffs. I asked why. The guard said “Look behind you.”

The first guy behind me got a 600 year sentence.

The next guy got six hanging sentences.

The third guy was sentenced to be thrown blindfolded out of a second story window. Twice.

Another guy f*cked his mother and sisters three times. He was freed on Saddam’s birthday.

Another guy had his hand cut off.

There was this last guy. He went to the market with his wife. She waited in the car when he went to buy something. When he came back to the car his wife was screaming. Two guys were in the car with her. One held her arms and the other was raping her. He grabbed his AK-47 and chased them away. They ran to their car and he shot them. Their car blew up. They were mukhabarat [Saddam’s secret police]. He got a death sentence. On his second day in Abu Ghraib they killed him and sent the mother- and sister-f*cker free for the fourth time.

The guards who ran Abu Ghraib sold hallucinagenic drugs to prisoners for money. They forced me to take them.

You need protection in there. You find someone and give him drugs and cigarettes. You pay off the guards to just punch you in the face or move you to a different cell instead of kill you.

I was freed 26 days after I arrived, on Saddam’s birthday before I finished the three months.

I can’t live with this nightmare anymore.

MJT: What’s it like out there now for the average Iraqi?

Hammer: If you give average Iraqis electricity right now it will be enough. This is the most important thing. Give them power for seven days in a row and there will be no fights.

After the US came and Saddam fell they earned 3 dollars a month. Now they earn between 100 and 700 dollars a month.

Giving them electricity would reduce violence. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself what would happen to this Army base if the power was cut off forever and the soldiers had to spend the rest of their lives in Iraq. Do think think these soldiers would still behave normally?

Iraqis are paid to set up IEDs. They do it so they can buy gas for their generator and cool off their house or leave the country. Their hands do this, not their minds.

TV is the most interesting thing to Iraqis. They learn everything from the TV. Right now they only have one hour of electricity every day. Do you know what they watch? Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera pushes them to fight. If they got TV the whole day they would watch many things. Their minds would be influenced by something other than terrorist propaganda.

The Surge is working. We are making the turn, but that does not mean that life in Iraq is all peaches and cream down the primrose path. Life is still tough for them, and we still have much work to do. We cannot do that, though, with the fifth column in the nation right now trying to disengage from our enemy under some foolish assumption that if we just leave, al-Qaeda will leave us alone. We also cannot leave and abandon that nation to the sectarian civil war that will erupt in the wake of our withdrawal.

The media can paint whatever picture they would like to, but they cannot shut out the truth, and the simple truth with regard to Iraq is that the Surge appears to be working, and if given the full chance, it will likely work. All the troops and General Petreus need is the time to accomplish their task.



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