There’s just nothing like that first long slow drag from a fresh cigarette, outdoors on a crisp cold winter evening. The missus and I get through the day to enjoy this moment nightly after the kids go to bed. For fifteen minutes we use the medium of this ancient bliss, to share an intimate break in the chaos of the day. Fresh rolled from moist Danish Export, set alight with a Too Much Coffee Man lighter purchased on Ebay, the object seems precious… the moment priceless… the act of taming both fire and indulging nature between one’s fingers, is uniquely human.
Offended? Get over it!
Some years back, when I smoked and drank more like the single man that I was, I strolled into a local convenience store to purchase Camels and a six-pack. To my surprise, the clerk asked for my ID. Being in my 30's, I did not look 21. I certainly didn’t look 18. So, to be flip, I asked the clerk who requested age identification, "for the beer or the cigarettes?" Without missing a beat, he replied, "for the cigarettes!" Catching himself, he looked up at me and smiled awkwardly. I responded with my own sly grin, took my purchase and left.
That was an interesting lesson on the impact of progressive re-education. The clerk had more fear that he would sell a pack of smokes to a grisly, under-aged teen, than an irresponsible young adult might illegally purchase beer, get trashed and plow into a van full of children. Likewise, God forbid, a G.I. should take a moment to drag a deathstick in a combat zone before subjecting himself to the violence of barbarians intent on chopping off his head or blowing him to bits. Ner to mention the cancer risks inherent from inhaling the smoke of tobacco leaves - as opposed to the fumes of burning tires, gasoline, naptha, gunpowder, lead vapor, oxidized sulfur, pulverized asbestos and lime, a potential whiff of Sarin or Ricin gasses, perhaps a bit of Anthrax or Botulin, and a ripe dozen corpses - the mere image of that soldier indulging an uncivilized habit, may convey a poor message to young American children, so exclaims a letter to the New York Post in response to their publication of this cover photo.
James Taranto in his Best of the Web segment at Opinion Journal, reports this smoking marine to be, Lance Cpl. James Blake Miller, a 20-year-old native of Jonancey, Ky. Bravo sir! Let me offer to you my favorite roller, that TMCM lighter and a carton of fresh Danish at your liesure in gratitude for your service on my behalf. That is the least I could do for you having to endur hostile fire and comments like this one in the Houston Chronicle (HT Taranto), from Dr. Daniel Maloney of The Woodlands:
"I was shocked to see the large photograph on Nov. 10. A tired, dirty and brave Marine rests after a battle--but with a cigarette dangling from his mouth! Lots of children, particularly boys, play "army" and like to imitate this young man. The clear message of the photo is that the way to relax after a battle is with a cigarette. The truth is very different from that message. Most of our troops don't smoke. And most importantly, this young man is far more likely to die a horrible death from his tobacco addiction than from his tour of duty in Iraq."So here we are, three years after 9/11; well into the war with the beasts. The election is over. President Bush has a mandate, while the political Left and their media minions got the proverbial pink slip from red county America in response to their 16-year moratorium on brains. Nevertheless, not willing to withdraw with grace, we have two new non-scandals from the Left regarding the War on Terror. As if the aforementioned issue were not absurd enough, the Left is apoplectic at NBC's release of inbed video showing a US Soldier shooting an enemy combatant. Imagine that.
In light of televised beheadings, hundreds of dead children, daily massacres of Iraqi civilians by foreign Islamicist insurgents, burned and mutilated Americans on public display in that very same city and its own torture brothels, the incident at Abu Graib seems more like an episode of Fear Factor. Likewise in close-quarter combat in a third-world urban nightmare, with an enemy whose netherworld value is calculated by the number of infidels he slaughters, shooting that enemy combatant in the battlezone should be quite sequitur. The non comes in when you add the action and the analysis of a Mainstream Media anti-war activist and the inane sensibilities of progressives with respect to this particular event.
The reporting concerning this 10 second event (view Here) captured at distance by an NBC camera, involves tremendous speculation with little information. MSNBC reports that Kevin Sites, their inbed reporter on scene, stated that the man was shot by a Marine who appeared to be unaware that the Iraqi was a wounded prisoner and did not pose a threat. I seriously doubt that Mr. Sites is qualified to determine the nature of threats in the theatre of combat. He is not charged with that task. He is not trained for infantry duty, nor did he search the combatant after the fact. The word 'appeared' might as well be replaced with the phrase, "I assume" for all intents and purposes of Sites reporting; suggesting in many respects, a notable qualifyer of his own character for breaking a sensitive story for which he had no additional information. The ass exploited his role in a situation to manipulate the perceptions of you and me and the whole Islamic world.
Matt at Froggy Ruminations explains, with some degree of personal knowledge and experience (unlike Sites),
Its a safety issue pure and simple. After assaulting through a target, put a security round in everybody's head. Sorry al-Reuters, there's no paddy wagon rolling around Fallujah picking up "prisoners" and offering them a hot cup a joe, falafel, and a blanket. There's no time to dick around in the target, you clear the space, dump the chumps, and moveon.org.
"Marines were warned to be on the lookout for this. Coming upon someone who had been shot and started to move and perhaps look like they were going to trigger a device and take Marines with them, you have to make a split-second decision."
Captain's Quarters provides further illumination of contextual facts that should have been readily apparent to Mr. Sites prior to the release of NBC video condemnation of the Marines:
Already, though, more context for this incident has surfaced, even in the CNN report. Perhaps this was on the mind of the Marine who killed the wounded captive:About a block away, a Marine was killed and five others wounded by a booby-trapped body they found in a house after a shootout with insurgents.
A media personality concerned with facts instead of spin, with a degree of appreciation for split-second reactions of the men defending his life, might have attributed some benefit of the doubt to the soldier before unleashing the fury and stupidity of uninformed opinion on this marine and his unit. Despite Sites statements, his motives seem clear as reflected by his affiliations (ImagesAgainstWar.com). The consequences certainly are, as Mitch points out at Shot in the Dark:
... the conundrum; we're fighting people who saw hostages heads off, and are lionized for it throughout the radical Moslem world. They're people who'd think nothing of killing prisoners - in fact, that's what started the whole situation in Fallujah. Our laws, and "international law", forbit the killing of prisoners. That's a good thing. Our enemies will look at the prosecution of the wounded Marine who did the shooting, and laugh at our weakness.
Opinions abound with respect to this incident, and they are accumulating fast thoughout the Old and New media. That is rather unfortunate in its own right, considering the nature of the struggle - a black and white conflict between good and evil. The U.S. military has demonstrated itself to be quite capable throughout this campaign, of maintaining a sense of order and principle in the midst of chaos and inhuman brutality of a near demonic enemy. Ed points out, quite appropriately, over at Captain's Quarters that,
It's important to remember that (a) we have only seen one aspect of this incident,(b) none of us yet understand the context of it, and (c) this represents one Marine's actions, not official US policy or the American rules of engagement in Iraq.Prudence is required regardless of the ultimate verdict. History has shown (re. Vietnam) that uninformed opinion can undermine victory at tremendous cost of human life. Given that experience, this incident could have been attended with greater care. Indeed, it should have been had Sites and NBC viewed life and liberty to be of more value than their agenda. The Associated Press, playing off their lead now reports that, Iraqi Man's Slaying Dominates Arab Media:
Hugh Hewitt further references a Reuters story reporting on the 'seething rage' in the Muslim world as articulated by one Arab saying, "I am not a jihadist, I am just a normal Muslim but such scenes are pushing me to Jihad." Nevermind the fact that reaction to the mutilation of four American contractors in Fallujah earlier this year was one of morbid humor and celebration among Muslims, and indeed in many Leftist circles in the West. This Arab man, no doubt indulged that sentiment, likewise recognizing no distinction between US soldiers and foreign terrorist insurgents who behead tethered victims on Arab T.V.
The Marine shooting in a mosque in Fallujah was played and replayed, debated and portrayed as "evidence" of what many Arabs believe: that the United States isdestroying Iraq and Iraqis.
Frames of the Fallujah shooting appeared on many newspaper front pages Wednesday and Arab satellite stations repeatedly aired the footage taken by an American television crew.
Extreme assessment on my part, perhaps? Well, do let's review MSNBC's Chris Matthews opinion of the enemy (HT, Hugh Hewitt). On Monday night's Hardball, posing a question about the alleged shooting of an unarmed Iraqi combatant by a United States marine, to Ken Allard, retired military, Matthews phrased the following question:
"Well, let me ask you about this. If this were the other side, and we were watching an enemy soldier --a rival, I mean they're not bad guys especially, just people who just disagree with us, they are in fact the insurgents, fighting us in their country-- if we saw one of them do what we saw our guy do to that guy, would we consider that worthy of a war crimes charge?" (emphasis mine)No! Quite accurate assessment, I'd say. Chris Matthews is clearly either an enemy of humanity, or quite possibly the most abstract embicil in the Old Media. Either way, he has plenty of company. Currently the MSM (whether fortuitously or deliberately) is fulfilling for Osama Bin Laden, the insidious objective he was unable to achieve following his infamous attacks on 9/11. They are unifying Islam beneath a shroud of fear, hate and rage against the United States and its Allies. By their refusal to convey (or even to comprehend) the true nature of the enemy we fight in Iraq and the profound significance of that conflict in the War against Islamofascist terror, they are condemning Man to a century of global armageddon. In light of the uncertainty of the outcome of a conflict of that magnitude, and its human consequences, perhaps it is time to redefine the term, 'enemy.'
If life and liberty are the fortunes of this war, then clearly one side commands the high ground. The other side maintains a non sequitur that cigarettes are more dangerous than Islamic fascism.
Update 11.18.04:12.20: Reason pervades the blogosphere...
Powerline 1, 2, BlackFive, Grim's Hall, Instapundit, Little Green Footballs, Chapomatic, Small Town Veteran, Belmont Club, Sgt.Stryker, Free Republic 1, 2, 3