TRAINING THE ENEMY….In the New York Times today, Michael Kamber writes that after spending a week with an infantry company in Baghdad he can find virtually no one who still believes they’re doing any good in Iraq:
The pivotal moment came, he says, this past February when soldiers killed a man setting a roadside bomb. When they searched the bomber’s body, they found identification showing him to be a sergeant in the Iraqi Army.
“I thought, ‘What are we doing here? Why are we still here?’ ” said Sergeant Safstrom, a member of Delta Company of the First Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division. “We’re helping guys that are trying to kill us. We help them in the day. They turn around at night and try to kill us.”
….”In 2003, 2004, 100 percent of the soldiers wanted to be here, to fight this war,” said Sgt. First Class David Moore, a self-described “conservative Texas Republican” and platoon sergeant who strongly advocates an American withdrawal. “Now, 95 percent of my platoon agrees with me.”
….On April 29, a Delta Company patrol was responding to a tip at Al Sadr mosque, a short distance from its base….When the battle was over, Delta Company learned that among the enemy dead were at least two Iraqi Army soldiers that American forces had helped train and arm.
….”Before that fight, there were a few true believers.” Captain Rogers said. “After the 29th, I don’t think you’ll find a true believer in this unit. They’re paratroopers. There’s no question they’ll fulfill their mission. But they’re fighting now for pride in their unit, professionalism, loyalty to their fellow soldier and chain of command.”
The reports of individual soldiers provide a very limited view into how well or how badly the war is going. But eventually their voices add up, and it sounds like Delta Company has figured out the truth: that they’re mostly just training Iraqi soldiers to be more efficient at killing both Americans and each other. They’re inflaming a foreign civil war, not defending America, and the fact that their commander in chief continues to insist that they risk their lives anyway represents a betrayal of trust rarely equaled in modern history. These guys deserve better. They deserve a president who understands when to fight, how to fight, and how to win. George Bush plainly understands none of these things.
Cato ended every speech with “Carthago delenda est!” — Carthage must be destroyed. We need just the opposite. Does anyone know the Latin for “We must leave Iraq”?