06/25/04 — Enough: Put U.S. lives above Arab sensitivities

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Enough: Put U.S. lives above Arab sensitivities

Four United States civilians working for a company based in North Carolina are kidnapped by Iraqi dissidents aligned with an opportunistic crazy.

The world is subjected to the spectacle of the men’s mutilated and partially burned bodies hanging from a bridge with Iraqi civilians rejoicing.

The president of the United States appears on television within hours expressing national outrage and assuring us that the guilty parties will be caught and face “justice” for their crimes.

They haven’t been caught.

With some international media fanfare, U.S. troops moved quickly in the area and we were led to believe retribution might, indeed, be near. But the crazies apparently were holed up in mosques and there were political and public relations concerns. We must be conscious of Arab sensitivities.

Our forces stood down, pulled back and turned the action over to Iraqi troops now supporting coalition efforts. And we witnessed a stalemate. Some kind of “ceasefire” took place. But it was one-sided. We did the ceasing and the crazies did the firing.

In more recent days we witnessed the capture and murdering of a U.S. civilian in Saudi Arabia. Either the Saudis would release a number of al-Qaida prisoners or the captive would be killed in 72 hours. Prayers and international outrage followed. Saudi forces, backed by U.S. investigators, ostensibly waged an all-out campaign to find and free the captive.

To no avail.

But within hours after he was beheaded, the Saudis claimed they had found and slain the key leaders in the outrageous act of inhumanity.

Strangely, somehow, at this writing, the Saudis haven’t been able to find the victim.

There is growing concern in this country about what is happening in that part of the world.

The concerns over world opinion and political consequences — and over the sensitivities of some Arabs — are reminiscent of failed wars in the past.

Harry Truman, who had the courage and vision to end World War II with the atomic bombs, would not permit Gen. Douglas MacArthur to strike aircraft and supplies coming across the Yalu to support North Korea. Truman feared this might bring China into the war.

Hordes of Chinese troops and equipment came anyway — and disastrously so. The result was our first no-win war.

Lyndon Johnson made our forces fight with one hand tied behind them in Vietnam, cranking in just enough American strength to keep the blood mill running.

Our brave troops won every battle. Our politicians lost our first war.

If our troops and civilian workers are to remain in Iraq, and a strong case can be made for that, our national leaders must start placing far more concern on the safety and welfare of our people than on the sensitivities of the Arab world.

If the religious fanatics or opportunists seize any of our people, let’s use our special-operations forces to rescue them by whatever means if possible — or to annihilate their captors with massive force wherever they are hiding, be it in mosques or civilian homes.

And without apology.

Published in Editorials on June 25, 2004 12:22 PM