Thursday, November 5, 2009

THE STRONGEST TRIBE- a book report

By Bing West
Mr. West is a reporter who became imbedded with our military in Iraq beginning in 2003. The book ends as 2008 begins. He provides detailed information about our policies and procedures in conducting the war throughout these years. The title was from a statement made to him by an Iraqi. It was meant as a tribute to the fighting ability and total dedication of our soldiers in carrying out their mission.
As a person who was totally against starting this war from the beginning and still today, this was difficult reading. I spent most of my reading time over three weeks to finally finish.
Before even starting to read, I knew that my opinions wouldn’t change after reading. As far as I am concerned it was a fiasco from the start. It became a dark pit into which billions were poured together with the blood of thousands of our military men and women, for what purpose?
His concluding sentence hit me directly. “No nation can sustain its values by claiming to support the soldier while opposing his mission. The truth is that the nation determines the mission.” In the many articles I have written since the war began I have continued to praise our soldiers while condemning the leaders who put them in harms way, presenting them with a nearly impossible job to do with their hands tied behind their backs. Over and over they were sent into cities going door to door with death waiting each time they entered. Not being able to distinguish who they were in conflict with, they sometimes took fire without responding to avoid civilian casualties. They weren’t functioning as soldiers but as policemen in a foreign land without knowledge of language or customs.
The lack of leadership from Prime Minister al-Maliki created many obstacles. He was so concerned about the resurgence of Sunnis that he created the division between them and the Shiites which he supported. It was our military that convinced Sunni leadership to stop fighting us and work with us to drive out Al Qaeda terrorists and bring peace to their areas. This began in 2006 followed closely thereafter with the “surge”.
I accept that this book is accurate in its content. What I do not accept is that we have any business being there or Afghanistan for that matter. If you are interested in learning much more than you have read in newspapers or heard on TV, then I recommend this book to you. I found it at the Public Library.

Jack B. Walters 3961 N. Hillwood Circle
Tucson, AZ 85750 (520) 722-2958
November 5, 2009

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