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26 October 2005

NY Times: A Look at Those Who Died in Iraq

Here is the text part of two examples of an astonishing, heartbreaking on-line (Flash) feature of today's New York Times: The photos and brief bios and a bit of information about the most recent 1000 military deaths in Iraq. The feature is called

The page that opened for me when I clicked was

Soldiers who died on March 23, 2003

There are 65 soldiers (marines, sailors, etc.) on this screen page.

Branch of Service: Army
Type of Duty: Regular
Hometown: Bedford Heights, Ohio
Age at death: 19
Date of Death: March 23, 2003
Type of Death: hostile, died while captured

Branch of Service: Army
Type of Duty: Regular
Hometown: Tuba City, Arizona
Age at Death: 23
Date of Death: March 23, 2003
Type of Death: hostile, died while captured

But there are many more pages filled with dozens of young men and women -- and some not so young, career soldiers in their thirties and forties. The Times ran this similar feature last year with the first 1000 military deaths in Iraq; I think this one is the second 1000.

For each, bios much too short, photos too small. Their lives were too short, and there are so many of them ... not enough time, not enough space. In today's actual physical NY Times, the print version of this catalog runs to and fills, without advertisements, several pages.

Are we safer from terrorists now?

Will this War make the Iraqis free and democratic, sovereign and self-governing, religiously and ethnically tolerant?

How long will our troops stay there, receiving hostile fire? A month ago, Rumsfeld predicted 12 years. The other day, Condoleeza Rice threw out a guess that our troops would be there 10 years from now.

Shortly after Japan attacked the American Naval base at Pearl Harbor (7 December 1941), Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy also declared war on the United States. All three were powerful, industrially sophisticated nations with surface and submarine naval fleets and air forces. Germany ended its war against the Allies with jet fighter planes and rocket bombs that could reach British cities -- weapons the Allies had not managed to invent or effectively defend against.

Japan was the last Axis power to surrender unconditionally, on V-J Day (15 August 1945).

The American part of World War II, from sneak attack to total victory over three military and industrial giants, lasted

3 years 8 months 8 days

Hostility against American troops ended completely and immediately at each surrender. Within months, most American troops were coming home. Germany, Japan and Italy have been parliamentary democracies and our allies and economic partners ever since.


Anonymous patfromch said...

Hey, Hey, it's Stupid Loony Question Time again..
I think I asked this one before, but anyway.
Those Admirals, Generals, Chief-of-staff types, they've been to a military academy like West Point, right ? So I think they should have some knowledge of military tactics, right ? Things like Sun Zu, Machiavelli and von Clausewitz, right ? I's just that they don't use that knowledge.
Machiavelli said that once you have occupied a city or territory, you should only leave the absolute minimum of staff required to govern the territory and move on. You should not change taxes, laws or other local customs.
Or in other words: Get in, make sure that you accomplish your goal and get the hell out of there again. Even my dad knows that, and he only rode a tank for the Swiss Army.
And now they are talking about some 10 or 12 years ? What the foxuniformcharliekilo is going on here ???? Do I have more reason than Rummy and his mates or am I missing something here ?

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Why aren't you on your way to Lagos? I can't even verstehen genug of that letter to know how to answer the guy, but you can. Fabulous riches are at your grasp, and you're sitting around in CH asking me questions about military strategy in Iraq.


1. We got plenty of West Point generals and Annapolis admirals. But we haven't had an actual Smart and Successful combat general since the Korean War -- and that one ended up in a stalemate, a tie.

Since then, multi-star generals and admirals get their promotions by successfully ass-kissing politicians in Washington.

Our Chief Military Genius in Vietnam was a genuine certified idiot, General William Westmoreland. He got and kept that job by constantly assuring two presidents that victory was just around the corner if Washington would just send him another 200,000 troops. And another. And another. And another. He didn't have a clue what kind of war this was or how a Western military could be effective in the field. He completely failed to understand the political and historical roots of the Vietnam/Indochina conflict. He never understood what motivated his enemy. He (and Secretary of Defense Macnamara) were convinced victory must eventually go to the massively superior industrial and military Superpower. Neither ever could imagine that short guys in pajamas and sandles on bicycles eating rice in the jungle could hold out or win.

But Westmoreland was a GREAT arse-licher! He never told Johnson or Nixon anything that made them unhappy.

So we lost that one.

Our subsequent wars have been against tiny low-tek third-world forces with no naval or air power to speak of -- Haiti, Grenada, Iraq. (And we even lost a couple of those, Lebanon and Somalia.)

2. The "point" of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars isn't Victory in that old-fashioned sense.

The "point" is Continuous Never-Ending American wars.

Even if the objective -- America ruling the world and controlling oil and other raw materials and resouces -- can't be achieved, still the Administration's golf buddies -- Halliburton, etc. -- get rich forever.

The next phase of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld War Plan is Iran and Syria.

They're saving North Korea for last -- because those guys have a poweful, huge effective conventional military and they really know how to put up a fight. If that war starts to go south for the USA, the temptation to use nuclear weapons -- I don't think Bush or whatever Republican loon follows him can resist. (General MacArthur was fired during Korea for publicly threatening to use nukes against China which was backing North Korea.)

But that old-fashioned Victory -- we don't have any generals or admirals who have a clue how to win a Victory against these sorts of enemies who spend $1 for every $250 we spend, and use comparatively primitive and antique weapons. We don't have any military leaders who understand the religious, ethnic and historical motivations of these enemies. (And our intelligence doesn't have anyone who speaks Arabic or the other regional Asian languages.)

But if the "point" is just to keep fighting wars continuously and permanently ... any strategy will do. And 10 years or 12 years is just as good as WWII's Total Victory in less than 4.

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Oh ... also ... we invaded Afghanistan as if we never heard what happened to the military occupation forces from the Soviet Union when they tried to pacify Afghanistan. The last foreign army to effectively pacify and hold Afghanistan was Alexander the Great's.

Already since we invaded, traditional opium production is up in Afghanistan.

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

I think I want to call Iraq the Zugzwang War. Our enemy keeps backing us into situations where the only moves we think we can make are bad, self-destructive moves.

Anonymous patfromch said...

You're a very clever lad, Bob, hats off.
Now I don't reckon that the US Army is going to invade Iran or Syria anytime soon. I've haerd that Wolfowitz Idiot
bragging about those plsns but at present it will not take place.
Simple reason: not enough "rsources".
All available "resources" are currently in Iraq.
Attacking those coutries right now would be quite stupid, even suicidal, you would have one front in the east, Iraq in the middle, and one front northeast.
As I've said, even my dad could tell you that, and he only rode a tnnk

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Oh. The Bush Administration won't invade Iran or Syria because they're too smart to do a dumb thing like that.

The best book about the Geniuses who got the USA into Vietnam and kept us there for our second-longest war (only our Revolution against Britain lasted longer, and we won that one) is David Halberstam's "The Best and the Brightest." Kennedy stuffed his White House with brilliant Harvard professors; his Defense Secretary Macnamara was the CEO of Ford Motors.

Well, I'll sleep a lot better tonight knowing the Bush Geniuses would never do a stupid thing like invading Syria or Iran.

In the Army, we used to say: "That guy's so dumb he could fuck up a wet dream."

I met Westmoreland once, I was following him around an Army helicopter factory taking his pictures for my Army newspaper. He'd already been replaced as commander of MACV (Military Assistance Command/Vietnam) and had been promoted to US Army Chief of Staff. For doing such a Fine Job in Vietnam, they put him in charge of the whole US Army.

That fuckhead was Dumb As Rocks. He had Four Stars.


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