Sunday, August 29, 2010 6:14 AM
A platoon leader named Blake Hall has written a moving tribute in the Washington Post to a young Iraqi interpreter named Roy killed in a 2008 blast. The story includes the following anecdote, emblematic of the stunted mindset responsible for what should be recognized someday as America's wars of terrible waste in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hall, recalling events of the "surge" year of 2007, writes:
My platoon was patrolling Dora 12 hours a day, taking turns with another, and we were always tired. I had lost 20 pounds in two months because I usually chose sleeping over eating when we returned to the base. On the roof, the scouts and I were looking at one another with half-closed, bloodshot eyes when the muezzin in the mosque began chanting in Arabic. His voice streamed from the speakers strapped to the top of the minaret and reverberated off the concrete buildings.
Unlike the call to prayer, there was no "Allahu akbar," no pause after each recital, just a stream of words that sounded angry but were otherwise unintelligible to me. I checked my watch. It was too early for the second prayer of the day.
Sgt. Lesner, a scout who carried a grenade launcher beneath his carbine, asked, "What's up with the guy in the mosque freestyling, sir?"
"I don't know." I clicked my radio and asked the team downstairs to send Roy to a window so he could hear.
His voice crackled over my handset: "This is not good, sir. The imam is telling the neighborhood to rise up against the Americans. He is calling the men to jihad."
What did Hall do?
I ordered the platoon to full security, sent scouts running to grab rockets and extra ammunition from the trucks, and told the scout team leader to get two marksmen ready to fire on the mosque's speakers. I then radioed headquarters and requested permission to fire. But shooting at a mosque, even one inciting the neighborhood to attack us, would be a public relations nightmare for the Army.
Permission was denied, so my men and I sat and listened to the enemy organize an attack.
Ultimately, the men repulsed the ensuing attack without US casualties.
But let's mull this "public relations nightmare for the Army" that trumped the platoon leader's plan to stop the call to jihad. Incredibly, to the US Army brass, it was better for the platoon to just sit there and allow the call to jihad against the platoon (being the nearest infidel target) raise and psych up the maximum number of enemy forces than permit the platoon to stop the call to jihad by disabling the loudspeakers. Better to let the platoon take its chances, the Army believed, than risk a "public relations nightmare" by firing on mosque speakers broadcasting messages inciting local Iraqis to kill Americans.
Why? One obvious answer is the probable Al Jazeera response -- "Americans fire on mosque for no reason." But what else is new? And who fights a war paralyzed by the prospect enemy propaganda? (Don't answer that.) Why not have mounted our own pr campaign? Why not have started one against mosques inciting jihad to kill Americans?
Of course, a pr campiagn to stop the call to jihad would involve acknowleging the call to jihad -- not to mention acknowleging jihad, Islamic law and culture, dhimmitude, and a host of complicating factors the US has spent the past nine years avoiding in an array of see-no-Islam policy- and war-making. There's the Army's pr nightmare. But this chronic failure of nerve has resulted not only in fatally flawed strategic planning. It has showed our enemies that we are more afraid of the facts about the Islamic world than losing our own people, our materiel, our money, our prestige and power -- everything. No wonder any political talk of victory or success (or just plain silence about what it's all about) leaves nothing but hollow vibrations.
Of course, Hall and his men were lucky. They were only denied permission to disable a set of loud-speakers at a local mosque. I heard a report out of Afghanistan from a field grade officer about a US position, circa Bush administration, that was shelled 79 out of 100 days from an enemy position at a nearby mosque. Permission to call in an airstrike on the enemy position at the mosque was denied by Washington every time it was requested because the mosque was deemed a "cultural center."
Just sit there, boys, and respect Islam.
Sounds like Mayor Bloomberg's show-and-tell war on terror and tyranny in action.