Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Lidless Eye

Most everyone on the blogosphere has probably followed the Glenn Reynolds link to a Mosul chaplain's blog. More than 20 people, including US military and civilian personnel, were killed in a mortar attack on a base mess tent in Mosul. Chaplain Lewis was at the site. His narrative of the followup attack on the wounded and the medical personnel who responded stood out.

Regardless of what some may say, these are not stupid people. Any attack with casualties will naturally mean that eventually a very large number of care givers will be concentrated in one location. They took full advantage of that. In the middle of the mayhem the first mortar round hit about 100 to 200 meters away. Everyone started shouting to get the wounded into the hospital which is solid concrete and much safer than being in the open. Soon, the next mortar hit quite a bit closer than the first as they "walked" their rounds toward their intended Everyone began to rush toward the building. I stood at the door shoving as many people inside as I could. Just before heading in myself, the last one hit directly on top of the hospital. I was standing next to the building so was shielded from any flying shrapnel. In fact, the building, being built as a bunker took the hit with little effect. However, I couldn't have been more than 10 to 15 meters from the point of impact and brother did I feel the shock. That'll wake you up! I rushed inside to find doctors and nurses draped over patients, others on the floor or under something. I ducked low and quickly moved as far inside as I could. After a few tense moments people began to move around again and the business of patching bodies and healing minds continued in earnest.

This suggests that the target was under observation so either the first firing team, or a second enemy mortar team tasked with a followup attack could adjust their fire until they hit the hospital. It will be interesting to see whether the enemy fire originated from a populated area, preventing counterbattery. Many American bases are routinely patrolled by RPVs that run a circuit around possible firing positions. Mortar or rocket positions in the open would be easily detected. But there is no data and it would be useless to speculate on what actually happened. However, it is safe to say that the attack demonstrates assymetrical warfare in action. The enemy chose the weakest point he could find to attack; exploited the known limitations of the American response; and understood that he was to all intents and purposes exempted from the condemnation attendant to attacking the wounded and medical personnel. The chaplain and the medical personnel knew this and did not mill around expecting the Geneva Convention to protect them from those who have never heard of it, except as it applies to their own convenience. They knew the true face of the enemy; a face which bore no resemblance to the heroic countenance often presented by the media to the world.

Of the first three factors, the advantage of choosing the weakest point of attack has been a combatant's right from time immemorial. That is a purely military condition. But the enemy ability to exploit the limits of American response and attack medical personnel with public relations impunity are examples of military advantages that arise from political restraints. To the extent the blogosphere can dispel the propaganda cover willingly provided by the Left, people on the home front can help the soldiers in the field. It is necessary to link the war criminal behavior of the enemy with the studied blindness of 'sophisticates' towards their most heinous crimes. They are twinned; with the former made possible by the latter. The Daily Telegraph describes how some European agencies actually refuse to look at mass grave sites to avoid being party to the punishment of war criminals.

Lack of European experts has held up the excavation of mass graves in Iraq, according to an American human rights lawyer working on the investigation. Greg Kehoe said the experts were not joining in because evidence might be used to sentence Saddam Hussein to death. ...

Capital punishment is not permitted within the European Union which discourages its use elsewhere. EU countries also routinely refuse to extradite people to the United States and other countries unless they receive guarantees that detainees will not be executed. The Iraqi Special Tribunal has identified a further nine mass graves to be examined for evidence of the former Saddam regime's crimes against humanity. Human rights groups estimate that 300,000 people were killed. Mr Kehoe, who spent five years investigating mass graves in Bosnia for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, said he wanted to have collected far more evidence by now, and cited the delay as one reason why the IST has yet to issue formal charges against Saddam and 11 other former regime leaders.

Enemy mortar teams lying in wait to attack doctors are one aspect of a coin which features the blind eye of some media and 'progressive' institutions on the other. Mark Glaser observed that:

For way too long, it has been the mainstream media (MSM) that's played God with the American public, telling everyone what's news and what's not, what to play up and what to downplay. But 2004 was the year the power started shifting, that the Little People, if you will, started to tell the gods of media what the public really wanted.

They can start by looking at the mass casualty station in Mosul and then glancing down at their hands.