Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Monday, June 14, 2004

Iraq - The Unsexy Tales

Here are some heartening stories out of Iraq that deserve more attention. The first is a story of a Chicago man who decided his services could be better used in Mesopotamia. Some of our alderman in Chicago would have you believe that it is only poor, uneducated minorities with no other alternatives that are sent to Iraq to die at the orders of the rich white folks, this case goes against their stereotypes:
Not long before he boarded this lurching gun truck, Joel Hardin enjoyed the good life.

Plum job as a leading pediatric cardiologist in Chicago. Far-flung vacations with his wife. Downtown condo and dinners at the finest restaurants--a life as sunny and smooth as the putting greens where he whiled away weekend afternoons.

These days, the 42-year-old--salt-and-pepper hair cropped close and a handgun strapped to his thigh--lives in a plywood cubicle, snapshots of his other world propped outside the mosquito netting slung over his cot. He is a surgeon with a Marine infantry battalion west of Fallujah, the latest stop in an unfinished odyssey that has carried him and thousands of other reservists to the front lines of a war they were not initially expected to fight.

...For most of his life, Hardin never gave much thought to the military. But in 1998, the St. Louis native met a Navy surgeon who served in the 1991 Persian Gulf war, and something about the man's tales and confidence intrigued Hardin.

Hardin's father told him he was crazy. The Navy told him he would probably never earn a pension because he was too old to serve 20 years. Hardin signed up anyway, becoming a commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

"I just had this nagging thought that it might be a good thing to reflect on someday," he said.

Two years ago he and his wife, Maridith, moved to Chicago, where he began work as head of the cardiac intensive care program at the University of Chicago Children's Hospital. Then, in April 2003, he received a call from the 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, a reserve unit out of Bridgeton, Mo., that was going to Iraq and asked him to come along. He eagerly accepted, although the unit didn't ship out until March 2004.

"My wife said, `You did what?'" Hardin recalled. "`You are leaving a medical practice where you can drive to your reserve duty on the weekends and come back and be here with me in order to go out to a war in Iraq?'"

But Hardin couldn't bear the idea of missing the war that he believed could define his generation's place in history. His role nearly ended before it began.
Read the rest and then hit your back button and finish reading here.

Back now? Good. Here is an incredible story of an Iraqi teenager who risked it all to turn in his father, a former Hussein army officer.
HUSAYBAH, Iraq -- One day in December, a smooth-chinned 14-year-old approached American soldiers at a checkpoint here and asked surreptitiously to be arrested. He told the soldiers that his father, an Iraqi Army officer under Saddam Hussein, led a 40-man cell of insurgents, and he agreed to show the troops where to find the men and their weapons.

The soldiers put a sack over the teen's head, loosely cuffed his hands and led him away to a new life as an informant. U.S. officials say he has provided a wealth of military intelligence, allowing them to capture numerous insurgents in Iraq over the past six months.

But the teenager's decision to turn on his father, who he says beat him, has cost him his family and his freedom. Since he began cooperating with the Americans, he has lived among U.S. troops, knowing that losing their protection would mean almost certain death at the hands of those he betrayed.

...Some of his family memories are warm. He remembers his father happily cooking rice and dolma, grape leaves stuffed with mutton, tomatoes, peas and spices. But he also recalls the time his father brought home photos that pictured him beating a bound man with inch-thick cables. He thinks his father was trying to impress his mother with a show of force.
(Multi-Culturalists, and especially you women's lib types, take notice of the culture you wish was still in tact - Freedom's Fidelity)

His father appeared to snap, the teen says, after Mr. Hussein's regime fell in April 2003. He says his father spent time and money to build a network of insurgents to fight the Americans, and succumbed to frequent rages, beating his children more severely than ever before. Once, he says, his father tied his left hand to his left foot, and right hand to his right foot, and beat him "with anything that came into his hands."
His body bears witness to the violence around him. His scalp is a roadmap of scars from beatings and an accident. The skin on the back of his left hand is disfigured from the time he says his father accused him of stealing money and used a red-hot spoon to punish him. The teen recalls crying for days, in part because his mother didn't come to his rescue.
This is harrowing tale, as this kid at 14 was forced to participate in ambushes of U.S. troops. He never fired on them though, instead hiding where he could, once in a dumpster full of soiled syringes and another time and hiding under a bridge overnight. What kind of society creates these types of conditions for a 14 year old? One that needs to go that's what. I don't know where this kid, hardened as he must have been, found the courage to say "enough!" The information he provided to US troops proved incredibly accurate and valuable, as they were getting very little cooperation from the locals who were initimidated by the insurgents. This boy changed that, as one intelligence officer noted, "My jaw almost hit the floor," First Sgt. Hendrex says. "Here was a kid who knew the inner workings of basically all the people we were fighting against there in Husaybah."

Who knows how many lives his actions have saved, but he has forged a very close relationship with some U.S. troops, but his future is still very uncertain. Again, read it all.

And finally some Iraqi Soldiers are honored for saving a U.S. Marine

On the evening of May 30, 2004, Jassim and his fellow members of 4th Platoon, India Company, Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) were jointly patrolling the streets of Al Karmah, near Fallujah, with leathernecks from 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. All at once, the patrol was ambushed from the rear by enemy insurgents. A U.S. Marine was instantly struck down with a gunshot wound to the leg.

Reacting as they had been trained to do by their U.S. counterparts, the Iraqis swung into action.
Jassim, who was standing closest to the Marine when the latter was hit, immediately returned fire.
Sergeant Abdullah Sadoon Isa, Corporal Eiub Muhamad Hussane, and Private Ahmad Lazim Garib raced toward-and-beyond the downed American. Constantly under fire and simultaneously returning fire, Sgt. Isa quickly positioned other members of his platoon between the wounded man and the enemy.

Jassim and another private, Kather Nazar Abbas, stopped shooting long enough to begin dragging the American to a position of relative safety. Bullets and at least one rocket-propelled grenade zinged past their heads as they managed to pull the Marine behind a wall. A U.S. Navy medical corpsman rushed forward to render first aid. The Iraqis and the Americans continued battling the enemy force.

...Private Jassim added that the firefight created an even stronger bond between Iraqi (ICDC) soldiers and American Marines. Speaking through an interpreter, he said, "I feel very, very bad the Marine was shot because they are like my brothers now, but I'm ready to go out again. I'm always ready."

The ICDC soldiers not only saved the life of an American, but their actions served as an example of the ongoing coordination and positive developing-relations between the U.S. and Iraq. This was good news. It was not an isolated event. Unfortunately, so little of this kind of news ever gets any ink.
Yes, not every Iraqi is out throwing stones at coalition soldiers while they have time between planting roadside bombs and ambush planning sessions. Quite the opposite is true. As has been the case there is a lot more going on in Iraq than is being reported, but all we hear is the bad news. That is a disservice, we need all of the news if we are to get a reasonable picture of what is going on and what areas are in need of attention/improvement. Stories about improved schools, new soccer fields, and functioning local governments are rarely mentioned, though their occurrences are anything but. There are over 8,000 towns and municipalities in Iraq and all we ever seem hear about is Baghdad, Fallujah, and Najaf. Why is that? Because the rest of the country is functioning surprisingly well. Sadly and perhaps tragically, the media rule appears to be if it doesn't bleed, it doesn't lead. So western media, set down your drink, get out of the Palestine Hotel once in a while and DO YOUR JOB!


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