April 9, 2004
What about our 'hearts and minds'?By Michael Morris
The last week in Iraq certainly has been a hellish one; there is nothing wrong with admitting it.
Many Coalition soldiers have fallen on the frontline for a worthy cause, and it would be to dishonor them, if we shied away from accepting the new realities currently present in Iraq. Our dead and wounded should be respected through the commitment we have to our ideals and principles, which means seeing it all the way through to the end.
A very poignant and touching photograph appeared on the front page of Saturday's International Herald Tribune, showing a group of US Marines in a huddle; shoulders locked, in mourning over the dead body of one of their comrades. Anyone having second thoughts about what we are doing in Iraq should stare at that photo for a long time. We need to show those brave soldiers that they have captured our 'hearts and minds' — unconditionally. Not just for the good times.
Of course, the BBC and CNN gleefully report the mounting casualties as if monitoring some twisted sales ledger, tallying up the grand total almost every hour just to gloat over their anti—war stance. The UK's Channel 4 news anchor John Snow — he also hosts a CNN program I believe — is the epitome of that sneering anti—war attitude, increasingly jubilant with each new report of casualties. Almost every single guest commentator on the Channel 4 news this week has been anti—war and glorifying the new difficulties. A new low in journalistic standards was also met with the fictitious allegation that US missiles had struck a mosque in Fallujah, killing some 40 worshippers inside.
And no sign of a retraction from any of the main offenders; the liberal media has turned into a freak show.
What we are doing in Iraq is universally right, and there is no reason for us to feel any shame about aggressively implementing our concept of society. When the Iraqis have earned their government, whether it's June 30th or later, they can decide how to manage their nation, but in the meantime, it's our responsibility. If we run away now, we'll be opening a globally destructive can of worms.
And denying that the situation in Iraq has changed for the worse will also probably lead to failure. Paramount to victory is a firm and unshakable self—belief that the future we offer Iraq, is far better for the majority of its citizens, than that which is offered by the gangs, terrorists and thugs. We shouldn't be afraid of sending more troops to Iraq, if that is what is required, and if it makes the situation safer for those already in the country.
The Coalition's second worst problem at this moment —— after the spotty Al—Sadr —— is potential paralysis in acting directly and forcefully against him, his Shia radicals, and the Sunni insurgents. Indecisiveness due to issues of political correctness will only lead to more casualties in the long term; our enemy has no such qualms, and will ruthlessly take advantage of our Western 'queasiness.'
We are operating in Iraq after all, not the US or Britain. Dragging along our Western sensitivities with us — as we fight the fanatics — constrains our ability to be effective. Unfortunately, we are operating in a part of the world where strength is respected, and signs of weakness are violently exploited.
The new video footage of the three Japanese hostages being held by the so—called Mujahideen Brigades —— though explicitly disturbing —— acts a window into the mind of the enemy we face. It may be difficult to watch, but it's important for everyone who is sane in this world to witness the mentality being exhibited by the enemy. The actions of these thugs, terrorizing their captives, brandishing long medieval swords and holding them to their victim's necks while chanting medieval slogans, should be seen by all the world's appeasers.
How can anyone, no matter how liberal, be so naive to think that it's even remotely possible to win the 'hearts and minds' of cretins such as the Mujahideen Brigades? The idea is obscene and should be treated with the contempt it deserves.
The concept of 'hearts and minds' in relation to the Iraqis, is a big fat red herring, cynically pushed by the liberals and the left—sided media, in order to infect those who have to get their hands dirty with a sense of guilt. The Iraqis who are uprising were never with us from the beginning; they have just bided their time before striking against the Coalition. Those Iraqi 'hearts and minds' which we are capable of winning have already been won.
But the real battle for 'hearts and minds' is being waged against us in the West, by our own press, in a concerted effort to highlight all that is wrong in Iraq, and ignoring any news that is perceived as positive.
Yesterday, at the 9/11 hearings, Condi Rice said something that can also be applied to the situation with the liberal media.
She mentioned how Al—Qaeda declared war on us back in the early 90s, and we just ignored it and sat back until the tragic 9/11 wakeup. The liberal media have undoubtedly been at war against the Coalition since the start of hostilities, if not longer. They are methodologically hampering, lying, and generally denigrating the whole effort to bring peace and stability to Iraq.
That's a very strange thing for so—called liberals to be doing — effectively campaigning for a miserable Iraqi future.
Yes, we must win the war for 'hearts and minds' — those of our own.
Michael Morris is our London correspondent