A Court Martial Is In Order

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We
read of a very "bad" soldier, Lt. Col. Allen B. West of
the 4 Infantry Division
, who actually roughed up an Iraqi prisoner
rather than allow his men to walk into an ambush.

Whatever
the outcome, Colonel West may assume that his career is over. His
successor will be a lot less inclined to conserve his own soldiers
at the risk of his career now that it is obvious what his priorities
should be.

My,
my, how nasty war can be. Who would have guessed it would get this
ugly? Who could know? Well, for starters, anybody that visits LRC
on a regular basis. Read my archive and that of the other writers
and see how regularly we warned of this. People who feel that war
is simply "diplomacy by another means" (see Clauswitz)
are quite frankly, insane.

Read
this story. Read it and weep. Particularly you folks who supported
this war. You folks who applauded when Bush declared victory and
started that same old blathering about winning hearts and minds.
You know who you are — you are the people who trembled at the thought
of Saddam Hussein threatening the United States with various and
sundry weapons that we prefer to exist only in our own arsenals.

Now
we have real war going on every day and we have allowed a crazed
group of neo-conservative warmongers to put our soldiers in an un-winnable
situation. History shows us that it is next to impossible for an
invading power to defeat a determined insurgency. But who reads
history?

Tank
heavy military forces are excellent for winning battles. They kill
people and break things — ours are very good at it. (How I wish
we'd defend our own borders with these troops!) What such men are
not good at is containing an insurgency. Everyone in the world is
aware of this, except our own leaders.

Now
that Mr. Reality has showed up, as he always seems to, we are confronted
by the true face of war and still trying to pretend that such things
are merely an anomaly. The terminally naïve should look at
General Eisenhower's instructions on dealing with German insurgents
in World War II. They are remarkably similar to the German's own
method of handling "terrorists." Hint — the trick was
take hostages and destroy entire villages. You want to fight insurgents?
That's one way.

Only
the very foolish think wars can be fought with kid gloves, because
we are somehow "better" than other countries. When war
comes, the devil roars with laughter and the wicked prosper. The
good men die or are like in Colonel West's case, put into impossible
situations and then scape-goated because they use the only means
available to them.

But
then I'm not a fool — I know what war is and always expect the worst.
As one of the devil's own generals put it, "War is hell."

When
armed men confront each other as the tools of other men, far away
from the action, the result is remarkably predictable. Except to
our own leaders, who obtain their positions because of their "presence,"
"electability," and their ability to raise funds, as opposed
to any particular qualifications for the job or moral character.
If you doubt me look at what the left wing of the ruling party is
offering as an alternative to the fumbler in chief.

The
real question this incident raises for me is the one concerning
the hypocrisy of the US government and worse, of the US Military.

Why?
Because I say to you today that this soldier did nothing wrong.
If there is an ambush waiting down the road and you have a prisoner
that can keep your men from getting killed, I tell you that any
real soldier would act as Colonel West did. I tell you
that I would act as he did. You will not harm my comrades while
it is within my power to stop you. That is ultimately, the creed
of the soldier.

Did
you really think these boys fight for God and country? That they
give a s__t about "liberating" Iraq and finding those
imaginary "weapons of mass destruction?" Soldiers fight
for one reason and one reason only, ever: for the guy standing
next to them.

I've
studied military history for close to fifty years now and find a
huge disparity in the stated motives of the generals, politicians
and other big shots in contrast to those of the simple soldier.
I noted recently how silly one of our better generals sounded in
his memoirs, Jumpin' Jim Gavin in fact, of the legendary 82 Airborne.

Gavin
wrote of the assault by two companies of the 504 Parachute Infantry
against a German mechanized column in the Ardennes (Battle of the
Bulge). The Germans shot them to pieces with multiple 2cm AA guns
mounted on halftracks. The few survivors broke through to cut down
the Germans and capture the halftracks. Gavin wrote how the American
paratroopers were triumphantly calling themselves the Armored Parachute
Battalion.

Un
huh. Try reading Ross Carter's classic "Devils in Baggy Pants"
to see how the troopers really felt. There were so few left that
any feeling of "triumph" would have to have been expressed
in the field hospitals where most were too heavily drugged up to
feel much of anything.

What
had really happened is that our troops were caught with their pants
down by German armor and did what they did because there were no
other resources available. We traded lives for time. It happens.
It's called war. It is not called "triumph" by anyone
who lives through it.

If
we look further into the history of our 82 Airborne in World War
II we find they suffered well over 100% casualties. Those men are
spinning in their graves as they consider the injustice of court
martialing this Colonel who did what he did to save the lives of
his boys.

In
the Rhodesian Army we were once amused by the proliferation of posters
exhorting us not to call a thirty thousand dollar air strike when
a simple recon would do. Yeah we laughed. Who would call an air
strike to take out a single sniper? Me, for one.

If
you think that is funny try cowering in a ditch while somebody tries
to punch holes in you with a high-powered Russian sniper rifle.

War
is the dirtiest, most despicable conduct men have devised. It should
never, ever, be considered unless the barbarians are literally at
the gates.

To
initiate war against another country and then expect the troops
to play patty cake with insurgents is plain damn ridiculous. You
wanted war — well you got it. Now deal with it and stop whining.
This is what war is.

If
you haven't guessed by now, I am angered beyond belief by this travesty
of justice. So I am suggesting we carry justice to it's logical
extreme.

I'm
thinking of Country Joe MacDonald's classic "Superbird,"
which he wrote about our cartoonish president LBJ: "Send him
back to Texas make him work on his ranch, yeah yeah!" I seem
to recall that President Bush also owns a ranch in Texas…

But
first, court martial him. Strip him of his pension. Publicly humiliate
him. That is after all, what the Army is about to do to Colonel
West, who fired a pistol next to the head of a prisoner to intimidate
him into revealing the plans of an ambush in which the Colonel's
men would have been decimated.

And
what did Bush do? He fired a mighty big pistol at the head of all
the Arab countries when he attacked Iraq. Iraq hadn't done anything
to us — but it was there. It was vulnerable as well, and had few
friends. The operation was of course nothing more than old-fashioned
gunboat diplomacy. Thousands of Iraqis and hundreds of Americans
died in this "flag raising" operation but the theory was
that other lives would be saved by showing the Arabs that crossing
the USA would bring down big trouble.

This
has not worked. The War on Terrorism we are told, will continue
until evil has been eradicated in the world. I can assure you, that
only Christ's return will accomplish that laudable goal but President
Bush continues to plod along, hoping for the best. For an excellent
analysis of what really has happened with this war I refer you to
Joseph
Sobran's recent piece on LRC
.

Anyway
you look at it, President Bush used violence and intimidation to
save American lives; that is his stated claim. Yet Bush has led
us into an ambush, tied up our troops in a fruitless and expensive
operation, while failing utterly to defend our own borders.

So
let's compare him to Colonel West.

What
did Colonel West do? Why he used violence and intimidation to save
American lives. I might add that Colonel West didn't kill his victim
and he was successful in thwarting the ambush that would have killed
his men.

So
which one of these two men shall we court martial?


October 31,
2003

Mr. Peirce [send
him mail
] fought with the Rhodesian freedom fighters (the Ian
Smith side, of course).

Michael
Peirce Archives


        
        

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