Awakening a Sleeping Giant

If in the case of Iraq there has been any lessening of resolve among the American electorate, and to read the newspapers and listen to a great many television pundits one might certainly think there has, the events of the past 48 hours should put these doubts to rest.

American forces have recovered the remains of two soldiers, Privates Thomas Tucker and Kristian Menchaca, ambushed and kidnapped at a check point in the aptly named 'Triangle of Death' south of Baghdad.  Specialist David Babineau, died in the attack and was not captured.

Iraqi Major General Abdul—Aziz Mohammed Jassim, director of the Iraqi military operations room, stated 'with great regret' that there is strong evidence that the soldiers in question had been captured alive, horribly tortured, mutilated, and then murdered. Major General Jassim described the way in which these brave soldiers died as 'barbaric.' This probably means that they were beheaded.

A bulletin to the blissfully ignorant opponents of our commitment to the Iraqi people: this is the true face of the enemy.  This is representative of the fate they have in store for all of those — American, British, Iraqi, soldier or civilian, man, woman or child, — whoever does not share their twisted and sadistic view of the world. Nowhere in scripture or practice do the jihadis see a limit to the scope of their ambitions of less than a global caliphate. It is only a matter of time and tactics for them.

If they have not already figured it out, and it is highly unlikely that they have, the murderers in Iraq have made yet another egregious error. Perhaps even a fatal one for their own cause.  Americans don't react to barbarity in the way in which our enemies hope.
 
Americans still remember the Alamo.

Consider the aftermath of the Little Bighorn. 

Consider the evidence of Pearl Harbor.

Too many would—be enemies forget the prophetic words apocryphally* attributed to Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto following that attack when he said; 'I fear that we have awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.'

Americans don't react well or predictably to threats, murder, and treachery. This repugnance and stubborn resolve seems to be in our genes.  Recently I have been re—reading a series of excellent books by Allan Eckert detailing the founding of America.  In one of these books, The Conquerors, Eckert details the attempt in 1763 by Ottawa war chief Pontiac to lead a great uprising of tribes against British and American interests in the Great Lakes region. 

Pontiac's approach, much like that of the mullahs and terrorists in Iraq, was characterized by his fiery oratorical presence among the tribes and his ready resort to extreme treachery, barbarity, and viciousness.  At the height of his influence Pontiac led the forces of 18 tribes, thousands of hardened warriors, from throughout the Great Lakes region all the way to the Mississippi. The American and British presence throughout the region was laughably small with the largest garrison of troops, fewer than 200 at the present site of the city of Detroit, Michigan.
       
Pontiac and his legions, whose methods ran to wholesale destruction and bloodshed, disdained taking prisoners except for the purposes of slavery and horrendous torture. Pontiac's onslaught on the frontier was exceptionally bloody and merciless.

But the reaction of the British governors of the region and, most especially, the Americans who populated this frontier, was far from that which Pontiac had expected.  The American reaction especially was of outrage and retaliation. The frontiersmen fought back with an unparalleled fury. Within two years Pontiac's great confederacy was a shambles. A few years later the once great war chief was murdered by a fellow Indian near present day St. Louis.

In Iraq the terrorist mastermind Al—Zarqawi is dead and his would—be successor Abu Hamza al—Muhajer has stepped into the dead killer's shoes announcing that the heinous and unspeakable murder of these American soldiers is his personal doing. Perhaps he believes that by so doing he announces his own implacable opposition to American and Iraqi interests and his ability to strike at will. 

Perhaps Al—Muhajer has what passes for an excellent grasp of supposed Islamic history.  But what Al—Mujaher is severely lacking is an appreciation of American history and the nature of American willpower. Unless I miss my guess, he is about to find out.  It will not be a pleasant lesson.

* Thanks to reader Fred Marshall who documented the origins of this factoid in the movie Tora, Tora, Tora. It is something Yamamoto might have said, but is not on the record as having been said, except in the film.

Frederick J. Chiaventone is a retired Army officer who taught counter—terrorism at the U.S. Army's Command & General Staff College, and an award—winning novelist.

If in the case of Iraq there has been any lessening of resolve among the American electorate, and to read the newspapers and listen to a great many television pundits one might certainly think there has, the events of the past 48 hours should put these doubts to rest.

American forces have recovered the remains of two soldiers, Privates Thomas Tucker and Kristian Menchaca, ambushed and kidnapped at a check point in the aptly named 'Triangle of Death' south of Baghdad.  Specialist David Babineau, died in the attack and was not captured.

Iraqi Major General Abdul—Aziz Mohammed Jassim, director of the Iraqi military operations room, stated 'with great regret' that there is strong evidence that the soldiers in question had been captured alive, horribly tortured, mutilated, and then murdered. Major General Jassim described the way in which these brave soldiers died as 'barbaric.' This probably means that they were beheaded.

A bulletin to the blissfully ignorant opponents of our commitment to the Iraqi people: this is the true face of the enemy.  This is representative of the fate they have in store for all of those — American, British, Iraqi, soldier or civilian, man, woman or child, — whoever does not share their twisted and sadistic view of the world. Nowhere in scripture or practice do the jihadis see a limit to the scope of their ambitions of less than a global caliphate. It is only a matter of time and tactics for them.

If they have not already figured it out, and it is highly unlikely that they have, the murderers in Iraq have made yet another egregious error. Perhaps even a fatal one for their own cause.  Americans don't react to barbarity in the way in which our enemies hope.
 
Americans still remember the Alamo.

Consider the aftermath of the Little Bighorn. 

Consider the evidence of Pearl Harbor.

Too many would—be enemies forget the prophetic words apocryphally* attributed to Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto following that attack when he said; 'I fear that we have awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.'

Americans don't react well or predictably to threats, murder, and treachery. This repugnance and stubborn resolve seems to be in our genes.  Recently I have been re—reading a series of excellent books by Allan Eckert detailing the founding of America.  In one of these books, The Conquerors, Eckert details the attempt in 1763 by Ottawa war chief Pontiac to lead a great uprising of tribes against British and American interests in the Great Lakes region. 

Pontiac's approach, much like that of the mullahs and terrorists in Iraq, was characterized by his fiery oratorical presence among the tribes and his ready resort to extreme treachery, barbarity, and viciousness.  At the height of his influence Pontiac led the forces of 18 tribes, thousands of hardened warriors, from throughout the Great Lakes region all the way to the Mississippi. The American and British presence throughout the region was laughably small with the largest garrison of troops, fewer than 200 at the present site of the city of Detroit, Michigan.
       
Pontiac and his legions, whose methods ran to wholesale destruction and bloodshed, disdained taking prisoners except for the purposes of slavery and horrendous torture. Pontiac's onslaught on the frontier was exceptionally bloody and merciless.

But the reaction of the British governors of the region and, most especially, the Americans who populated this frontier, was far from that which Pontiac had expected.  The American reaction especially was of outrage and retaliation. The frontiersmen fought back with an unparalleled fury. Within two years Pontiac's great confederacy was a shambles. A few years later the once great war chief was murdered by a fellow Indian near present day St. Louis.

In Iraq the terrorist mastermind Al—Zarqawi is dead and his would—be successor Abu Hamza al—Muhajer has stepped into the dead killer's shoes announcing that the heinous and unspeakable murder of these American soldiers is his personal doing. Perhaps he believes that by so doing he announces his own implacable opposition to American and Iraqi interests and his ability to strike at will. 

Perhaps Al—Muhajer has what passes for an excellent grasp of supposed Islamic history.  But what Al—Mujaher is severely lacking is an appreciation of American history and the nature of American willpower. Unless I miss my guess, he is about to find out.  It will not be a pleasant lesson.

* Thanks to reader Fred Marshall who documented the origins of this factoid in the movie Tora, Tora, Tora. It is something Yamamoto might have said, but is not on the record as having been said, except in the film.

Frederick J. Chiaventone is a retired Army officer who taught counter—terrorism at the U.S. Army's Command & General Staff College, and an award—winning novelist.