It hasn’t been my intent for Fearless Dream to become a “link blog” or sort of “backup RSS feed” for Eject! Eject! Eject!, and it’s high on my freshly minted, unabashedly optimistic 2008 To Do list to put some serious time into writing about the ideas that I’ve been continuing to turn over in my mind and gather in note files and on bits of paper. But I can’t resist the compulsion to point out, even if for the third time in a row, that Bill Whittle has come through yet again with another characteristically excellent, must-read, on-point essay: “Forty Second Boyd and the Big Picture”.*
Find a comfortable chair, as this one’s a two-parter, but rest assured that the destination is well worth the journey. By part 2 I was, as I’ve certainly found myself before on many occasions with Bill’s incomparable writing, on the edge of my proverbial seat, my heart aglow.
By all means, ignore the following and go directly to Bill’s site to read the whole thing… But I can’t resist quoting for well-deserved emphasis one of the many gems of expression contained in Bill’s essay. It’s vital that we think about these points until they really sink in, because we owe it to our fighting men and women and to the people of Iraq not to give up.
I think the Surge has had spectacular success not because of the additional troops so much as for the fact that when the media and the Democrats demanded we cut and run… we did not cut and run. We doubled down. When the calls for defeat and dishonor were at their loudest – sad to say a not unwarranted street rep we had made for ourselves – somehow, somehow we simply just hung on and gave them not a retreat but a charge.
Jesus Christ, but that must have gotten someone’s attention. Yes, the Surge is working. But I believe it is not a surge of boots that is doing the work so much as it is a surge of hope.
And hope… well, hope is a dangerous thing. For every day that Iraq returns not only to normal but to free normal is a day remembered. It is a day to which other, darker days may be compared.
Every day of success, every newly opened shop, every school and soccer game free of secret police and each and every night devoid of the terror of arbitrary arrest and execution is something to lose. It is something the murdering bastards of al Qaeda cannot give but can only take away. We have taken their sword from them. They wield it now only against themselves. They will do it, too: more pain and more death are coming, for that is all they know how to do. But hope walks the streets of Baghdad now, hope in the form of decent and brave young men and women who have held a line against all odds and perhaps bought with their courage and their blood the time we need for that hope to spread.
I certainly share Bill’s admiration and appreciation for our deeply heroic and courageous men and women in uniform, who are daily putting their lives on the line for worthy ideals that are well worth fighting for, as well as for the superb reporting work that independent journalists such as Michael Totten and Michael Yon have done, telling both our soldiers’ stories and the stories of the Iraqi people as they persevere in a shared struggle to build a stable free society and a future worth having. It has become my chief regret in life that I have not served my country in the armed forces. I heard the call when war came to New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania on the calm, still morning of 9/11, and after much soul-searching came to believe (quite possibly with an unmerited sense of self-importance, and/or as a rationalization for simple lack of courage) that there was some other way I would be able to help more effectively, by putting my best effort forth in the crucial battle for hearts and minds. I have thus far done but a shamefully infinitesimal fraction of what I set out to do, of what I feel duty-bound to do, in that regard. But this is a new year, a gift of time, and with it another chance to summon my best effort, to begin to repay to whatever extent possible the profound debt I owe to those who have made my life possible, to the country and culture of liberty that I hold dear.
* Links updated 2009-10-29