Wednesday, September 12, 2007

RIP: Sergeants Mora and Gray

Cross-posted at Decline and Fall.

As General Petraeus testifies in the dog and pony show on Capitol Hill this week, news comes that two of the seven soldiers who wrote the brilliant New York Times Op-Ed “The War as We Saw It,” Sgt. Omar Mora and Sgt. Yance T. Gray, died when their cargo truck overturned. They were scheduled to come home in November.

These soldiers understood the pointlessness of their mission, and they understood the enormous sacrifice that they were asked to make, and have now made, in service of that pointlessness. Their honest and incisive assessment cut through the usual blather of the Iraq debate with an eloquence and an authority that has rarely been seen in the tired platitudes that pass for American political discourse:
To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched.
Simple, erudite and brutally honest. Three qualities that are in short supply on Capitol Hill this week.

As Petraeus, Crocker and their Administration bosses spin their statistics and pat themselves on the back for the “Anbar miracle,” remember what those seven, now five, soldiers wrote:
[W]hile creating proxies is essential in winning a counterinsurgency, it requires that the proxies are loyal to the center that we claim to support. Armed Sunni tribes have indeed become effective surrogates, but the enduring question is where their loyalties would lie in our absence. The Iraqi government finds itself working at cross purposes with us on this issue because it is justifiably fearful that Sunni militias will turn on it should the Americans leave.
A real political solution requires that the proxies, be they Sunni tribes bought and paid for by us, the central Iraqi government, or any other group working with us, actually be working toward the goal of a unified Iraq. If they aren’t, they are just using us to strengthen their hand until the opportunity to jump ship arises. This is the Achilles’ heel of any lofty goals the Masters of War ever had of bringing democracy, peace and stability to Iraq. This is what should be honestly discussed on the Hill this week.

America owes it to them to have this discussion.


**UPDATE** Thank you, Blue Girl, for the no-subscription-required link to The War as We Saw It at Behind the Times, who re-posted it and is leaving it at the top of the page all day in honor of Sergeants Mora and Gray.