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Putting my Liberal Credentials at Risk

Okay, here's the deal:

We shouldn't be in Iraq. This was a stupid war for a moronic reason with help-my-rich-friends overtones.

But we're there. After this last election, it's obvious that we aren't going anywhere for a while.

So, with the realization that I'd rather not be brought to the following conclusions, that I'd rather have a President and strategic commanders that went in with an exit plan--of all the people, you'd think W. would have a plan to get out of Iraq. He had one to get out of Vietnam, after all--I offer up the following advice to the President.

Stop pussy-footing around.

War isn't about playing the good guy. Combat, in which you watch our friends killed or wounded daily, is ugly. Once you commit, you'd better commit fully. Eighteen year-old kids are wandering around a war zone where dead bodies are being booby-trapped with high explosives that detonate when you move the body. Snipers spash the insides of their HumVees with the innards of their next-door neighbors. Cars pulling up to checkpoints are exploding, killing entire squads.

To try and be the good guy in a combat zone can spell your death faster than you can say, "Insurgent."

So to all of you out there who were appalled by the news video showing the young Marine shooting an apparently unarmed, wounded man in the head, I have news for you: You'd have done the same thing.

Because you couldn't see under his body. You couldn't see if there were grenades that this wounded soldier was hiding, waiting for the time to detonate them and kill everyone in that building and becoming a holy martyr for the cause in the process. You didn't know if he had a detonator buried somewhere in his pockets and two pounds of c4 strapped to his body. You didn't know if he was hiding a gun.

All you know is that he was playing dead, but you could see him breathing. He didn't stick his hands up in the air in a gesture of surrender. He didn't call out in his native tongue that he surrendered. He laid there wounded; to be sure.

But wounded doesn't mean he was no longer a danger.

Quick, you've got two seconds to decide if the life of your wounded enemy is worth trading for the life of your platoon.

Not much of a decision, is it?

We're setting our troops up for failure. We're at war. As much as I FUCKING HATE IT, we're at war. Patton didn't broadcast his intentions to liberate Luxembourgh. I doubt the Americans told the French they were coming so that any civilians could make sure that they weren't on the beach at Normandy sunbathing on one day in particular.

And neither should we. We're trying to be the good guy again. Well, I've got news for you. We aren't the good guy. Don't get me wrong, they aren't the good guy either.

In war; in hand-to-hand kill-you-before-you-kill-me warfare, there isn't a good guy.

There are only casualties of war and survivors of war.

Which would you want to be?

We're broadcasting our attacks. We told the citizens of Falluja to get out, cause here come the Americans to free your city from the insurgents. In the process, most of the insurgents made smart and joined in the pre-attack exodus. We were then left to blow up empty buildings and perform door-to-door searches in what amounts to a sparesly populated ghost-town. The insurgents left. We expected heavier resistance.

Is it any surprise we encountered less than we expected?

And now we've moved on to Mosul. We're still bombing the hell out of Falluja, but our attacks in Mosul are much more ground-based, special forces style attacks.

It's time to just do it and get it over with. Civilians should know that if they're huddling up in a city full of insurgents that they should leave. It doesn't take an American announcement of intent in order to spare the unnecessary loss of civilian life. If you're in the city, and you choose to stay there, then you should know your life is at risk.

We're trying to keep up appearances, and putting the lives of our troops in danger by doing it.

If we have to be there; if we have to fight this fucking war; if we have to put our boys and girls in harms way, then do it right and get out.

Stop trying to play nice at the game of death.

It isn't possible.

Joseph Haines, signing off from The Edge of The Abyss.

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