Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Michael J. Totten in Karmah, Iraq

This is great reading on the situation in Karmah, just a year ago a seriously beleaguered city between Baghdad and Fallujah. Michael J. Totten is an embedded reporter in Iraq, and he describes the situation on the ground there in a two-part report.

Read Part I here. An excerpt:

Just beyond the outskirts of Fallujah lies the terror-wracked city of Karmah. While you may not have heard of this small city of 35,000 people, American soldiers and Marines who served in Anbar Province know it as a terrifying place of oppression, death, and destruction. “It was much worse than Fallujah” said more than a dozen Marines who were themselves based in Fallujah.

“Karmah was so important to the insurgency because we've got Baghdad right there,” Lieutenant Andrew Macak told me. “This is part of the periphery of Baghdad. At the same time, it is part of the periphery of Fallujah.”

Fallujah was a minefield of IEDs, but Karmah was even worse.

“I personally was hit with seven IEDs in the traffic circle alone,” [Corporal Caleb Hayes] said. “It didn’t start quieting down until September.”

This next photo is from Part II:

Our first official stop of the morning was at a grade school. Children rushed to the windows to smile and wave as we walked up the steps.

A young boy came running out the front door with tears in his eyes and a bruise on his eyebrow. A soft-faced teacher or administrator in his forties stepped outside to make sure the kid didn't run off too far. “He was in a fight,” he said and opened his palms.

Lieutenant Alleman called out to his unit's medic. “See if you can clean this kid up,” he said. Our medic cleaned the boy's wound and gently applied a band-aid.

I love this photo. With all the talk about race lately, after Rev. Jeremiah Wright's publicized rants about race and Obama's response in his Race Speech, and after all the anti-military protests by Code Pink, especially in Berkeley, here is a picture to answer them.

Our military is integrated, much more so than in the country at large. And the hands that heal an Iraqi schoolboy are black ones. Funny, but Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech has come true in the American military, the institution that those on the left (who claim the speech as their own) can only demean and protest. I have no respect for military-haters.

And I have profound respect for our men and women at arms, people who have used their weapons to bring peace and healing to a battered nation as a whole and to the town of Karmah.

Read both parts when you have some time to relax.

Photo credits (both): Michael J. Totten

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