The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing -- Edmund Burke

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To Strive, To Seek, To Find, And Not To Yield

Edward L. Daley

edaley@americasvoices.org      
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July 30, 2003


There's a common saying in the journalistic community that goes "if it bleeds, it leads".  Nothing personifies this policy more than the daily reports from Iraq of violent acts perpetrated upon coalition forces by every conceivable sort of enemy combatant.  It's not that I object to being informed of current events in the region, but what disturbs me is that these are virtually the only news stories we seem to be getting on a continuous basis from that country.  The bulk of these incidents are occurring primarily between Baghdad and several smaller cities to its north and west, in an area which comprises roughly 15 to 20 percent of Iraq.

Not coincidentally, this is where Saddam Hussein's most loyal followers are located, and where the majority of his elite military forces dispersed during the initial stages of the siege of Baghdad, disappearing into the civilian population without firing a shot.  In the rest of the country, stabilization and reconstruction activities have gone remarkably well, yet we rarely hear about the extremely affirmative aspects of our forces' efforts there.  While it is certainly disquieting to read about our brave soldiers being shot or in some other way assaulted by Ba'athist party loyalists, foreign insurgents, terrorists, mercenaries and the like, one needs to keep such incidents in perspective and look at the overall picture from time to time.

The swiftness and decisiveness of the victory achieved by the joint forces of our coalition during Operation Iraqi Freedom was awe-inspiring.  It will go down in the annals of modern military history as, perhaps, the most brilliant strategic and operational triumph to date by any group of armed forces on earth.  Indeed, victory may have happened so quickly that preparing our soldiers for the completely different task of policing large populations of civilians, who had just been freed from decades of brutal tyranny, may have added to the difficulties inherent in such a laborious and complex endeavor.

Yet in spite of the hardships faced by our troops in Iraq since the beginning of the war, the phenomenal success of our operations cannot be overstated.  Not only have they resulted in the liberation of tens of millions of people from the heartless, unyielding grip of despotism in only a few weeks, something which in and of itself should swell the hearts of all freedom-loving people everywhere, but the resulting loss of human life has been relatively small when compared to similar military engagements of the past.

For example, the average number of people who have died as a result of hostilities since the beginning of the Iraq War is between 4,000 and 5,000 a month.  In contrast, over 300,000 people were killed during the final month of battle for control of Berlin, Germany in 1945.  As a matter of fact, the average number of people killed in World War II every month for six and a half years was roughly 792,000.

Furthermore, it is estimated that an average of just over 500 Iraqi civilians died during each of the first 6 weeks of major military conflict in Iraq.  Compare that mortality rate with the one of the previous year when Iraq was not at war.  In 2002, approximately 2,800 Iraqis died every week.  Among the most common causes of death were consumption of contaminated water and inadequate medical treatment, problems which they will not likely face to any major degree in the future.

As far as U.S. troops are concerned, approximately 35 a month have been killed in combat since the beginning of the war on March 19.  While losing any of our fine fighting men and women is something we would rather not witness, keep in mind that more people than that die every day due to simple errors in the dispensing of medication.  Twenty-two U.S. military personnel were killed in combat in Iraq between May 1, the day that President Bush declared an end to major hostilities in that country, and July 1.  That is an average of 11 combat fatalities per month.  We may well pray that none of our young soldiers will be killed at the hands of our enemies, but when one considers that 11 children are murdered by their parents every single day in the United States, that number doesn't seem so very daunting.  Again, it's all a matter of maintaining a little perspective.

I think it is important to remember the catastrophic predictions made by so many of the people who opposed this conflict from the beginning.  I recall many of them quite  distinctly, and it's those same people who are beginning to float the word 'quagmire' around now, yet hundreds of oil fields were not set ablaze by retreating Iraqi forces as they were during the Gulf War of 1991.  There was no mass exodus of starving refugees from major Iraqi cities.  The so-called Arab street did not erupt in violent protest as our forces advanced toward certain victory.

Saddam Hussein did not attempt to bomb Israel in retaliation for having his power threatened.  Terrorists sleeper cells in this country were not invigorated to strike us again.  In fact, virtually none of the doomsday scenarios foretold by the anti-war crowd actually came to pass.

Truly it is disappointing that we have yet to find the weapons of mass murder that we know the former Iraqi regime possessed, and the head of Saddam is not yet on a stake for the world to view, but to expect that we would have uncovered these important pieces of the Iraqi puzzle so soon after the commencement of a war is not very realistic.  We're dealing with a massive undertaking, the likes of which we have not experienced in a generation.  We need to control our impulses for instant gratification and understand the enormity of this situation and the nature of the enemy we are dealing with.

Our parents and grandparents had the ability to remain patient in the face of far worse conflicts than the one in which we currently find ourselves involved.  Will we exhibit the sort of strength of character that they once did, or will we begin to whine like spoiled children each time our expectations are not met as quickly as we would like?

War is never an antiseptic thing, and this one is not over yet.  It is also not the last major conflict we will face as the global war against terrorists and the dictatorships which support them continues.  This is but one of many battles we will surely face in the coming years, and if we don't get used to that idea now, we will run the risk of lapsing into a state of complacency, or worse yet, succumb to a pattern of constant infighting which will only serve to strengthen our enemies' will while weakening our own resolve.

Things may not be going as well as we would have them go, but things have been much worse in the past.  We as Americans have overcome far more intimidating obstacles, and we will overcome the ones which lie before us now.  All that is required of us is that we stay focused on the tasks at hand and get behind the troops who will be charged with finishing what evil men like Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden have started.

We must concentrate on the positive aspects of all our challenges and learn to deal with the negative ones as they come.  Our forebears did it, and so shall we, for if not us, who?  If not now, when?

References:

The figures and statistics cited here were found in various online resources and news stories, including:

- The CIA World Factbook
- Department of Defense
website
- Global Security
web-site

 

Copyright Copyright 2020 by Edward L. Daley & America's Voices, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Edward L. Daley lives in Maine, where he writes and is the owner/publisher of The Daley Times-Post (formerly The BODACIOUS Post), a conservative news, information and commentary site.  You can contact him at edaley@americasvoices.org.

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