Disaster relief is hard
Gitmo Blues

"From Baghdad With Love"

Al Mahaba radio -- "Love," in Arabic -- is Baghdad's first radio station that is by women, for women.  It reaches across the city, and into the northern and eastern provinces.  It has been around for a while, but remains struggling, and often unable to pay its staff.

I mention it both to draw it to your attention, and also because it is supported by the kind of peace group we could use more of in the West.  These are people whose first concern is with the people of Iraq.  While not supporting the war, neither do they call for the reckless abandonment of the Iraqi people.  Rather, their concern is partnership with and support for the women and children of Iraq -- a goal that many in the US military heartily share.  Their first interest is with the people of Iraq, not themselves.

Opposition to war, even this war, can be honorable.  That requires, however, a clear-eyed focus on the fate of the millions of noncombatants whose lives hang in the balance. 

For that matter, so does support for the war.  Those of us who supported the war did so out of a hatred of tyranny and mass murder, and concern for the use of terrorists as an instrument of the state -- a weapon that undermines the distinction between civilian and combatant, and puts innocents at risk worldwide.  We are right to demand of the peace movement that it not forget the people who might be left behind, and their fate in the chaos that could follow a hasty withdrawal.  We must also remember those people ourselves, defend them and raise them up.

That is what counterinsurgency is:  pulling a society out of the grasp of tyranny or the chaos of war, and connecting it to the broader human society of freedom and prosperity.  It takes patience and honor.  This was the Surge, as Greyhawk says -- with ample evidence, though only the barest slice of what could be said.  There will come a day when we are proud, as a nation, of what we have done for the people of Iraq. 

But proud or worried, for now, the proper focus is on her innocents.  We must defend them, and fight those who would use them as pawns, or weapons, or shields.  We must help their fighting men as they establish control of their cities, and defy those same groups.  If you watch that slideshow you will see women and children free, again, to move on the streets of Basra.  They are free because of the Iraqi Security Forces, who fought for them -- for now, still needing our support.

That is the Iraq we want to flourish.  It is worth keeping the eye focused on that goal.  It will justify all sacrifices, repay all costs, if we reach it.