Jewish World Review April 9, 2004 /19 Nissan 5764

Drs. Michael A. Glueck & Robert J. Cihak

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Wrong Military Diagnoses & Treatments | Kerry whines that Bush is doing too much to fight terrorism since 9/11 and did too little before 9/11. The Republicans snipe back that it is hard to treat in six months what the Dems couldn't eradicate in eight years. Al Qaeda, which has metastasized in response to post 9/11 pressure, regards the whining and sniping as an invitation to influence American domestic politics.

In retrospect, we've made some bad military diagnoses and worse treatments.

Last Easter, people had taken sides on this war. What mattered was less their position than the reasons for holding it, for there were good, intelligent, moral reasons to be for it: they were humanitarian and interventionist. There were good, intelligent, moral reasons against it: they were all cold realpolitik. There was no natural fit between a conservative administration and its liberal reasons for waging war. Post-war planning suffered accordingly.

Says Erin Solaro, a military writer in Virginia, "The issue now is not, what did we think was the proper foreign policy last winter? The issue now is, do we wish to see our country defeated?" She argues the very fact that reporters and photographers survived to report on the massacre of four Blackwater employees (Blackwater being a top-ranked private military corporation, or PMC), indicates that the ambush was set up for maximum media attention. (And it was a deliberate ambush with alternate sites, RPGs, machine guns, and gas cans.) The insurgent message was brutally clear: it is more dangerous to be Americans — or Iraqis working for Americans — than to kill Americans.

Tragically, Americans were only the means of that message: Iraqis were the real enduring recipients. For all the horror and fear engendered in Americans by the murder and mutilation of those contractors, we can leave Iraq. For Iraqis, Iraq is home. They cannot leave.

In theory, America can leave, despite the amount of military construction in Iraq and the rest of the region, including the former Soviet Union. We've left other nations before. Vietnam most famously. But, the fact is, all talk of a handover of authority to the Iraqis on 30 June is window dressing. The reality is a prolonged stay in the region allowing free rein to the crazies, the jihadis and the barbarians who had so much practice on Iraqis before they got hold of Americans.

There is a way to salvage American policy in Iraq and leave the place better than we found it, not for a few months, but maybe for generations.

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We must accept that we are going to be in Iraq until a generation comes to power that has known nothing but freedom. This includes women: at home, at work, and on the streets. You cannot have democracy if half the population needs their husband's permission to work, can be beaten at home, and are vulnerable to "honor killings." Real force, must be used to make the point that law-abiding women and men need no one's leave to live, but live underneath the law.

We must also face the fact that occupation light, especially in areas like the Sunni Triangle and the religious militias, has bred not good will, but increasingly daring resistance in Fallujah and private religious armies. And while we respect Islam, mosque and state are separate, which means that clerics too are beneath the law including the occupation authority.

The occupation must no longer be light, but hard and correct. It is time to deal with those who contest this occupation according to what the US Army quaintly calls the Law of Armed Conflict.

There is nothing quaint about the Geneva Convention, to which we are a signatory. It provides for the court martial and execution for those who fight as partisans, insurgents, guerrillas, or francs-tireur. To fight without being under the authority of a responsible commander, without wearing a uniform or brassard recognizable at a distance, or without carrying arms openly, or to refuse to conduct military operations according to the laws and customs of war, is to be liable to court martial and execution.

These rules were made to protect unarmed civilians, lest they be indiscriminately murdered. The deliberate targeting of civilians, as was seen most recently in Fallujah, is a contravention of the laws of war.

It is a great failing of traditional American policy that we have been either too tough to bring about reconciliation or too soft to repress. Returning to the hard civility of the Geneva Convention allows us to eschew a Left that sees all force and violence as fundamentally inhumane (only the provocation to more violence)and a Right that would respond to a mob that murdered four men by leveling a city of 250,000.

More to the point, the Geneva Conventions was created to protect noncombatants, abiding by their rigor would remind us that it is Iraq we came to liberate, and Iraqis who deserve our protection from the barbarians who not only ruled them, but were content that they be so ruled.

Americans must insist, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as citizens that both the President and his challenger tell us without spin, what they think we should do, what they think it shall cost and why. Then we need a serious national conversation and either do the right thing, or pull out, no games, no half measures. And then we should have the decency to deal honestly with the Iraqis who have suffered so much. We are a good and great people. To do less than this is unworthy of us.

In war, as in medicine, the better the diagnoses the better the treatments and outcomes.

Editor's Note: Michael Arnold Glueck wrote this week's column.

Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., is a multiple award winning writer who comments on medical-legal issues. Robert J. Cihak, M.D., is a Discovery Institute Senior Fellow and a past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Both JWR contributors are Harvard trained diagnostic radiologists. Comment by clicking here.


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