Let me say right up front that I have never been a fan of the military prowess of the late American Gen. Douglas MacArthur, revered for returning to the Philippines in WWII to liberate the inhabitants from the cruel Japanese occupation.
For starters, if he hadn't screwed up royally in the first place he would have been in a better position to repel the Japanese in 1941 and wouldn't have had to leave.
In fact, when I think of MacArthur my first image is of the man who rode daringly into hordes of needy WWI veterans and their families who had taken up residence on the National Mall in Washington D.C., in the mid-1930s, acting on their belief that they had fought for the right to peacefully assemble, and petition their government for redress of their grievances. In that instance the WWI vets were angry that benefits that had been promised to them when they served had not been delivered, and in the depths of the Great Depression had descended on Washington to deliver the message to Congress that those benefits would have helped.
MacArthur helped put an end to that little pipe dream, using his troops to route the vets and send them packing. I think he got a medal for that one.
I am reminded of his ignominious retreat from Bataan and Correigador leaving behind tens of thousands of American servicemen who ultimately faced death, torture, slave labor, sickness and starvation while he reclined in relative ease in Australia, plotting his ultimate return to a positive Public Relations position. I also am reminded of how he was brought down by his belief in his carefully crafted public persona when he forgot that the military answers to the government in America, not vice versa, and was fired and retired by President Harry Truman.
Nonetheless, and I use that word to avoid being labeled by conservative columnist and talk radio hostess Laura Ingraham as a "But Monkey," MacArthur did have a positive place in one portion of his history. MacArthur's real genius was in his administrative prowess, and his ability to walk a fine line between opposing factions both internal and external when he took over the post-WWII occupation of Japan.
One only has to look to that country, now a solid and valued ally of the United States, to see that the structure he crafted in the 40s and 50s works to this day. It is here where I see a real need to move forward from the current violence and disorder in parts of Iraq.
The Iraq situation is not a mess, is not hopeless, is not a quagmire, and is not a mistake, or any of the other endless negative labels used by aspiring Democratic office holders who hope to make it the silver bullet that will get them elected in November.
I think Iraq has been an overall success, yet is a country with enormous problems that were kept in check by force of arms throughout the reign of Saddam Hussein, just as the centuries old ethnic and religious rivalries were kept in check by communist brutality in the Balkans. There still are thousands of outside troops keeping the peace in the Balkans, and just because the bulk of them aren't American doesn't make it any less of a continuing problem.
Iraq, however, is more immediate in the American media and political agendas, primarily because American troops are still serving and dying there. The amount of time we have fought in Iraq, and now are administering the transition to an independent government, is less than half the time we spent fighting Japan and later administering the occupation.
For the World Terrorist Media and the American Democratic Party, however, both of which are totally focused on the downfall of George Bush, even if it means the downfall of America as a side issue, Iraq is the one place where they believe they can get some traction for their defeatist agenda.
So, with a democratically elected government in place, offset by warring religious factions, held barely in check by an effective American military presence bolstered by a gradually rebuilding Iraqi army, there is a need for a person of vision and determination who can bring to Iraq what MacArthur brought to Japan.
MacArthur's tenure as the administrator of the Japanese occupation was not necessarily easy. He too faced religious tensions between the defeated Shinto warriors who still wanted to wage war on America and those who supported the American efforts, as well as Japanese nationalists who had nothing but contempt for the American barbarians defiling their country.
But MacArthur did a good job of keeping these forces at bay, and ultimately minimizing the extremists while rebuilding an economically viable country that also rebuilt its sense of national pride.
We need that kind of effort in Iraq. I realize that there are differences, but there are enough similarities in the two countries to make it worth the effort to at least review MacArthur's success in Japan and hopefully glean some strategies that would be useful now. MacArthur has long since faded away, but out there somewhere is a blueprint, a template, that should be revived, reviewed, updated and applied where possible.
Muqtada al-Sadr - the real culprit
One thing MacArthur enjoyed in Japan that does not exist in Iraq was absolute authority. Yes, he still had to answer to the president and Congress, but he ran the show pretty much as he saw fit.
That has not happened in Iraq, and we are suffering for it, primarily due to the efforts of the chief internal terrorist, a so-called religious leader named Muqtada al-Sadr. The son of executed religious leaders who has no formal religious training of his own, al-Sadr is a wholly owned and operated puppet of Iran.
He was trapped south of Baghdad early on and the American military, backed by on-the-scene government representatives, was in a position to either kill or capture him. Military and civilian leaders were vocal in their wish to do so, but they were overruled and he was allowed to go free.
Did I mention that he had a warrant out on him by his own country for ordering the murder of a religious rival? That's a pretty good description of just what kind of religion he believes in.
Al-Sadr now resides in a Baghdad slum named for him, which tells us a lot about his goals and aspirations, and should tell his followers something too. Unfortunately, to follow a guy like al-Sadr you have to be either lacking something upstairs or be uneducated to the extreme, so it isn't likely that his mini-army of followers will catch on to how he is using them.
He now is the chief creator of death and destruction in and around Baghdad, using his followers to spread hatred between the opposing Muslim factions.
America appears to have squandered its opportunity to take out another extremist despot with minor repercussions compared to what we face now. But the situation isn't hopeless.
In fact there is a way to neutralize al-Sadr without touching a hair on his head, but which carries the very real possibility of his followers abandoning him in droves within weeks. Too bad the US has become so politically correct that we would rather let our troops die and our government be taken over by a faction that advocates retreat and surrender as a viable national policy, than to do what is right and necessary.
I think it is time to shelve the "turn the other cheek" philosophy and reinstitute Hammurabi's Code.
Israel/Hezbollah Cease Fire Proposal
The Untied Nations has come up with a draft proposal to put a cease fire into effect between Israel and Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon.
Yeah, right. Wake me when the cartoon comes on.
Sunday, August 06, 2006