Friday, June 30, 2006

Building Their Case for Our Weakness

For anyone who has argued that liberals have no idea how to fight the war on terror, they’ve recently given you six more steel girders upon which to frame your argument.

The first was Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid’s plan for America’s new direction. It completely lacked elements vital to the future of our nation. Specifically, there was absolutely no mention of a foreign policy perspective, national security position, or a plan to fight the war on terror.

Most who didn’t understand at the beginning of September, 2001 that national security was an integral part of the American way of life understood the concept by the end of September, 2001. Most of us did, but I guess Pelosi and Reid would have to be excluded from the group which comprehends the relationship between national security, our livelihood, and our freedom.

Or maybe their plan for the Global War on Terror came with the second of their six actions designed to build the case for our weakness and eventual demise in this war. Were the resolutions submitted by John Kerry and friends calling for an immediate surrender and pullout from Iraq or surrender with a 2007 drop dead date the liberal plan for national security?

Someone needs to take John Kerry back to “Warfare 101” and explain to him that the principle of not providing the enemy with your plan still applies. And then walk him down the hall to “Jihadist Philosophy 102” and go through history’s examples which prove that a lack of American resolve (as he proposes) emboldens Islamic extremists to attack us with confidence.

The left’s inability to view Zarqawi’s death as a success, the plethora of intelligence we received from that operation and resultant actions against other terrorists is the third item. What we got from Reid, et al. were lots of “but monkeys” (as Laura Ingraham describes them) where all the negative implications for our troops and country were attached to this successful operation. Their comments were a public relations “win” for the enemy because the defeatists from within America worked fervently to find flaws with and minimize the importance of eliminating Zarqawi.

Fourth, the liberal poster boy for defeat, John Murtha, called for redeployment of our troops to Okinawa so they could better handle the situation in Iraq. He proposed that our troops sit in Okinawa waiting for something bad to happen in Iraq and then fly there as a quick reaction force to handle the trouble. Now I know for certain he has been away from the Corps too long. No one with any sort of military mind left at all would ever propose such a thing. Even though you can’t strip him of the title “Marine” because he’s earned it, it’s time to start taking it off his list of credentials.

I understand the role of the press in a democracy, but the champion and purveyor of all causes liberal, the New York Times, decided their newspaper sales and hatred for the Bush administration were more important than our national security. Their “tell-all” story of yet another legal, but top secret program designed to find, track, and stop terrorists is the fifth item which portrays a lack of comprehension by the left on how to fight terrorists. Legal language may say what they’ve done is not illegal or treasonous, but their penchant for giving away our national security secrets raises questions about the spirit of their intent.

Lastly, and worst of all, is the lack of outrage or condemnation from the left for the torture and beheading of our soldiers by the terrorists. Dick Durbin, the leading liberal anti-torture champion, has been quite vocal about our treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, likening our soldiers to Nazi’s and their actions to those of the concentration camps or killing fields of Cambodia. Yet when two of our fine young men are “brutally tortured,” the best he can do is insult the President.

Our soldiers handle GiTMO terrorists with kid gloves and feed them so well they gain weight. But we sometimes put them into 50 degree rooms, make them listen to Britney Spears, and sit in uncomfortable positions for long periods of time. This “torture” is worthy of Dick Durbin’s ire. However, as military reports note, our captured soldiers were subject to “severe trauma” and “brutally tortured” to such an extent it was classified as “something unnatural” before they were beheaded. This prompted no derogatory remarks or condemnation of the enemy by Durbin or any of his cohorts who are always so eager to insult our own troops.

Is it any wonder then that even though they bear the burden of this war, suffer deeply at the loss of their brothers in arms, and personally experience the cost of freedom our troops shy away from the left and vote in excess of 70% for conservatives?

In the end, all plans have flaws. But following a good plan from the right with some flaws is superior to stumbling around in the dark with the left, without a plan or a clue as to how to fight terrorists.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Lessons of Haditha

After several weeks of liberal assaults on the Marines accused of crimes at Haditha and finally their attorney’s telling the other side of the story last week, there are still very few things we know for sure about the incidents at Haditha.

We know that it’s a treacherous, confusing place. It is not the isolated utopia the left has tried to portray where women and children go about their daily games and housework in some sort of Iraqi version of 1950’s suburban America. Haditha is not a picture of tranquility where the natural balance is only disturbed by marauding, blood-thirsty Marines intent on execution.

Haditha is an incredibly dangerous city. It has its share of insurgents who force the populace into terrorist activity through threats or coercion or who adeptly use civilians as pawns in their grotesque jihadist games.

Our battalion had a company at Haditha for a while in 2004. There were plenty of bad guys there then. During a later deployment, a friend of mine commanded an infantry company there. He lost more than 20 of his Marines and Corpsmen at Haditha. Haditha is not a peaceful place.

But unfortunately the left, led by John Murtha, has vigorously attempted to use the trickled tidbits of information about the Haditha incident to portray it as such and to publicly prosecute and convict the Marines involved in that incident.

The rapid rush to judgment and public conviction by John Murtha long before the investigation is even finished is an egregious act of political posturing and anti-war rhetoric. It is probably only second to John Kerry’s testimony against his fellow servicemen during the Vietnam War, which was thankfully and very publicly disputed during the last election by the Swift Boat Veterans.

The left’s labeling of what happened as a “massacre” and accusations of Marines killing innocents “in cold blood” is based on, everyone has to admit, less than half the story. The investigation into the matter isn’t even complete yet; the facts are not known.

Regardless of where their tidbits originate and the credibility of any sources (the Commandant in one case) the three truths at this point are that it’s a dangerous place, no one fully knows what happened that day, and many civilians are dead.

It is not surprising though that the early pieces of released information led Murtha and friends to a prejudiced, anti-American conclusion which suits their defeatist agenda.

They act as if Marines have absolutely no regard for the Iraqi people. The reality is that Marines train hard to be culturally sensitive and eliminate or at least minimize even the potential for civilian casualties. But just the same, and with deep regret, they occur.

The death’s of innocent civilians in war is truly unfortunate. If they die from the unintended consequences of combat action it is sad and regrettable. If they die at the hands of those who intentionally target them, as the terrorists often do, it is sad and unforgivable. If they die because one side intentionally places them between opposing forces as a means of advancing their guerrilla warfare strategy, it is just as despicable an act as simply targeting them for summary execution.

But, we don’t fully yet know how or why these civilians died.

It was good to get the other side of the story last week about their deaths, not because I’m prejudiced to automatically thinking these Marines are innocent, but because I’m prejudiced to wanting to judge based on all the information available.

There is no room for prejudgment of innocence or guilt in this case. Marines understand and demand this more than any others when it comes to matters involving their own.

After all, the reputation and honor of the Corps, which we so fiercely defend, can itself be on trial in cases of this magnitude.

The strength of camaraderie among Marines demands we stand by each other through trials and adversity. But our high standards allow very little tolerance for mistakes and no tolerance for criminal conduct. Mistakes happen, but there is little sympathy for them. There is no sympathy for criminal offenses. “Zero tolerance” is more common than uncommon. Punishment for proven mistakes and criminal behavior is quick, but appropriate to the offense. It’s part of what makes Marines who they are.

In every endeavor, Marines are notoriously unyielding, particularly with regard to discipline. But, they are also adamantly fair. I have confidence in my fellow Marines, more than any other group, to demand these Marines be treated fairly (something Murtha seems to have forgotten). But should the accused be tried and found guilty of the alleged crimes, I also have full confidence in my fellow Marines to punish them accordingly.

Until that time, we should let the blindness of justice produce a verdict. And those like John Murtha, blinded by ideology and political ambition, who can’t seem to stop themselves from using this case for defeatist purposes, would better serve our young enlisted Marines by remembering the lessons and standards of fairness we should always apply to them.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Life and Death of Those Who Do and Do Not Make a Difference

By Brian Bresnahan

By the time this gets published, the body of an American hero, Lance Corporal Brent Zoucha, United States Marine Corps, will be on its way back to, if not already arrived at, the small town of Clarks, Nebraska. Brent’s body is being escorted by another American hero, his brother, fellow Marine and friend, Corporal Dyrek Zoucha.

Brent left for boot camp on 12 June 2005 and was killed in Iraq on 9 June 2006.

Dyrek, already a veteran of multiple tours in Iraq, served alongside Brent in 1st Battalion, 7th Marines. In fact, Dyrek had requested and been granted a four month extension in the Marine Corps so he could serve with his brother when he learned Brent was headed to his battalion.

Now he’s bringing his little brother home.

The emotions of Brent’s death stand in stark contrast to the emotions I felt when I learned of Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s death the day prior.

After my time in Iraq I view death differently than before. It is a much more emotional issue. Not that any particularly tragic or traumatic event caused a decrease to my threshold for which emotion about death is triggered. But rather, I believe it’s born out of a much higher reverence and respect for life than before. One can easily gain an all new understanding of both the fragility and value of life after some time in Iraq.

So, I never thought I would ever rejoice in the actual death of anyone, until I heard of Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s. I thought my emotions concerning death were always going to be of the kind I felt when I learned of Brent’s passing. But, I found myself relieved and jubilant about Zarqawi’s demise.

His death brought relief to the anger I had felt when trying to work with Iraqi’s who would no longer visit with me or would send someone in their stead to inform me they couldn’t be seen with American’s because they’d been taken away, threatened, and shown videos of people being “slaughtered.” I don’t remember the Arabic word used, but in our conversations, the word “beheaded” was always interpreted as “slaughtered.”

Zarqawi’s death closes the chapter on frustration many of us felt, knowing we had him trapped in Fallujah in the spring of ’04, when the assault to retake the city was called off for seemingly unknown reasons. This frustration had only grown when we learned that it was Zarqawi himself who had claimed personal responsibility for beheading Nick Berg shortly thereafter.

His death brings relief and elation. Not in the way we rejoice for those who pass away after fighting a long, painful bout with cancer and go to be with their Savior, but simple happiness because he’d been killed and that he reaped what he’d sown. I am happy for the families who lost loved ones at his hands. I am happy for those Iraqi friends who no longer have to fear the rabid bite of that evil being. I am joyful that piece of human debris no longer stalks this earth.

However, Brent’s death brings both sorrow and pride.

I take solace in knowing he died doing what he chose to do, what he wanted to do, serving and protecting his fellow Americans, being a Marine. Although we mourn his loss and struggle to cope with his passing, we also understand and honor the meaning and impact his sacrifice has for all of us.

His life will be honored and remembered by those who knew him, loved him, and had the privilege to serve with him. He will always be remembered for what he did, not just because he died. His sacrifice and selflessness will be honored and remembered with each breath of freedom we enjoy.

Abu Musab al Zarqawi on the other hand, will only be remembered for the atrocities he committed, for his evil, for his complete disregard for human life, and the wake of destruction he left through the sea of Christian and Islamic humanity. We will only resurrect his memory from the trash heap of history’s most disgusting and diabolical figures when we need to remind ourselves of just how evil men can be and the destruction they can produce when left unchecked.

Lance Corporal Brent Zoucha will be remembered for sacrificing all that he was and all that life had to offer a young man; voluntarily doing so for the freedom and safety of others. His memory and sacrifice will strengthen the bonds of brotherhood that hold Marines together and contribute to the mystique and ethos of “The Few, The Proud.”

Some said that Zarqawi’s death makes no difference. I agree, because his time here on earth was wasted on purely evil pursuits. Thus, in the end, he didn’t make a difference. But during his short life, Lance Corporal Brent Zoucha did. He embodied Ronald Reagan’s observation that “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference. Marines don’t have that problem.” Brent’s life and death made a difference.

Semper Fidelis, Lance Corporal Zoucha. God speed.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Stable or Shifting Foundations?

By Brian Bresnahan

When confronted with both threats from abroad and internal pressures, which America can stand longer, the one existing and operating on a firm foundation or the one on an ever-shifting foundation?

When Americans are confronted with threats like Islamofascism whose focus and hope lies in our subjugation or destruction, our foundation requires inflexible resolve. But have we become a nation whose foundation is no longer solid, but is constantly shifting instead? And if we have developed a shifting foundation, can we withstand the onslaught of attacks, the “death of a thousand cuts,” Islamic terrorists are sure to employ?

The lack of resolve shown by some Americans in the face of Islamic extremists suggests that our foundation has shifted and that we might not possess the resolve and strength to endure such a fight. Not because our military lacks the ability to fight and win, but because the will of too many in America is based on an ever-shifting, relativistic, secularly influenced foundation, instead of an unyielding one.

The advance of secularism and relativism in our nation tears at the foundation necessary to sustain it against these threats. They demand that our foundation shift to suit their whims, preferences, and opinions.

Our nation was founded upon certain principles; principles derived from, but not exclusive to Judeo-Christian religious beliefs. These precepts, which did not also exclude other religions, were implemented through a democracy, the only form of government which allows their full potential to flourish.

But, secularism and relativism abandon and denounce both the religious and democratic principles that are the materials of our foundation. Relativism may adhere to some tenets of faith, but any philosophy which also argues at the same time for conscious disobedience to selected aspects of that faith is not strong enough to serve as a foundation for anything, let alone an entire nation.

Relativism justifies interpreting the basic rules of faith, humanity, and morality to fit the whims of the day. Our foundation does not require religious zealotry or intolerance of other beliefs, but its essence, its strength does rest upon an honest pursuit and application of these rules. Relativism does not.

Secularism demands a complete abandonment of these rules and principles. Thus, it demands the abandonment and the inherent, subsequent destruction of our foundation.

We see relativism and secularism manifested many ways in our nation, wanting to tear us apart, destroying the bulwark of our defenses against all threats, foreign and domestic.

They give rise to justifications for tearing down the institutions of faith, morality, and democracy which empowered our nation to reach this day.

For example, as Michael Novak argues in "The Universal Hunger for Liberty," democracy requires all facts be brought forward for review, examination, and discussion. Only from there can we reach an objective, intelligent conclusion which benefits our citizens. But relativism and secularism, by demanding and interjecting bias, have forced major, philosophically divergent views of what information should be reported and how. This enabled the rise of multiple other media sources from which to choose our news. As a result, we no longer discuss the same sets of information in our pursuit of decisions intended to benefit our citizens.

Democracy also requires, as Novak again argues, a loyal opposition in order to prevent a tyranny of the majority. But is the opposition from within America still loyal? Have relativism and secularism given them permission to stand for everything except America? Why don’t they verbally attack foreign enemies with the same venom as they attack those in America who oppose them or possess differing views? Why don’t they ever denounce the actions of terrorists or work incessantly to bring the reality of their brutality to the forefront? Why is their sole focus on denouncing and criticizing this nation, its leaders, and those who risk their lives to defend it?

Relativism and secularism have also shifted the foundation such that we no longer start from the same point with regard to areas which were historically common ground for all Americans. The history of our nation shows people at least somewhat unified in what they believed about humanity, morality, faith, and patriotism. But as the meaning and practice of those concepts have been turned on their head in our increasingly relativistic and secular nation, we have lost that common ground from which to move forward from.

Without common starting ground, common desires and visions for the future have become harder and harder to achieve. These differences are amplified by the fact we increasingly work from completely different sets of information in pursuit of those goals and our future.

If we are divided from the onset, have opposition of questionable loyalty, and also rely upon completely different sets of information from which we base our decisions and actions, are we also heading down opposing paths toward completely different visions of America?

If so, which America will stand, especially when confronted by outside forces intent on toppling all that’s been built? The America set on a firm foundation, the same foundation which made this country great, or the America set on an ever-shifting foundation subject to the leftists whims of relativism and secularism?