Cigars in the Sand

Commentary, Notes and Pictures from my time in Iraq

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Location: Baghdad, Iraq

Farmer by genetics, Lawyer by training, currently "vacationing" in Iraq and advising the Iraqi government on border security issues. Before moving to Baghdad, I served in the White House as Deputy Counsel for the Homeland Security Council. I can be reached at opusxryanathotmaildotcom.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

NYT Gets It Right

Today's Gray Lady:

"Liberal democratic societies have commonly been defended by conservative military establishments, whose members often lack the sensitivities and social graces of the elites whom they protect. As much as the military wants to help the downtrodden, it is not the Peace Corps. To wit, I have spent many months embedded with marines in Iraq, the Horn of Africa and West Africa, watching them fight, rebuild schools, operate medical clinics and mentor soldiers of fledgling democracies. I've learned that marines swear all the time out of habit, and love to be in on a fight, or otherwise they would not have joined the Marine Corps.

Yet those same swearing marines are capable of a self-discipline and humanitarian compassion - drawn, often, from an absolute belief in the Almighty - that would stun the average civilian. In Iraq, there was nothing more natural for marines (and soldiers, too) than to go from close-quarters urban combat to providing food and medicine, and back again."

I've always been rather "pro-military." But even I've been shocked at the compassion and humanitarian side of our military forces of our forces in Iraq. I know combat medics who have left the protection of their units to triage and treat Iraqi car bomb victims, even going so far as to ride in the unarmored ambulance to the Iraqi hospital. And the Marines of Anbar province (home of Fallujah and Ramadi) spend unbeliavable amounts of time rebuilding Iraq. It's not like those guys just ride out everday looking for terrorists to kill (although I wouldn't want to be one that they stumble across in their daily work).