Last week's atrocities in Fallujah struck so many raw nerves in me, that now after a few days of anesthetized numbness, I am able to put word to keyboard.
Having been head of the medical department aboard the USS El Paso in Operation Restore Hope, last week I couldn't help but think back a decade or so about the tragedy of our soldiers who lay prey to the animalistic mobs in Mogadishu.
On Oct. 3, 1993 a few of my American countrymen who replaced our ship and its contingent in a peace and nutrition mission in Somalia were sadly never to return to their families, falling victim to tribal killing, mutilation and dismemberment after their black hawk helicopter went down.
To this day, I have actually been unable to get myself to see the movie Black Hawk Down. Our troops were sheepishly ordered to leave the country soon thereafter, which only further conditioned the nihilistic self-hating mobs around the world that the reward for killing and mutilating a few Americans was that we would leave and never come back.
All of my Navy shipmates who knew me certainly knew Mohammed Aidid and his barbarians were grizzly tribal warlords who were anathema to Islam and barely human, let alone educated, let alone Muslim. We knew that for every so-called Muslim tribal thug there were thousands of suffering Muslim children and families.
Yesterday's closing of Fallujah is hopefully the first step in a deep elimination of the barbaric insurrection in Fallujah. Another one of the essential baby steps toward democracy is the elimination of violent unrest and those who incite and perpetrate it.
This response should not only be firm but long-lasting in memory to those who may contemplate similar actions against our countrymen or Iraqi citizens.
Unlike Somalia, a relentless pursuit of the perpetrators who killed these unsuspecting contractors is now a priority.
The next baby step is to find courageous pioneering Muslims in Iraq and beyond who not only condemn the animalistic display of the mutilated American bodies, but go well beyond platitudes toward expressing outrage at un-Islamic killing, the un-Islamic act of terror on civilians, and the un-Islamic attack of foreigners and military personnel who are actually aiding the country.
We need to hear about the Muslims who are writing about the anti-Islamic nature of attacks on military outside the boundaries of a declared war. We need to hear Muslims condemn the clerics and newspapers which incited such violence and hear their outrage at the mobs which did not revolt but cheered such violence.
A few speeches from moderate Muslims in Iraq thanking our American troops and contractors for their service to the Arab world would be well timed.
As I humbly see it, one of the most deficient elements in the war in Iraq is a public engagement of moderate Muslims in Iraq who can counter the radical clerics like Al-Sadr and their mobs.
I need to see the speeches and writings of leaders of a tolerant Islamic Iraq for which our troops are fighting to save. Freedom for all of Iraq will come when mass numbers of Muslims counter Al-Sadr's mobs and protest in Baghdad what happened in Fallujah as un-Islamic.
Democracy will come when Muslim organizations and newspapers in Iraq and beyond deplore in the name of their faith and its moral fiber the acts of terror that persist, despite the end of the war and the removal by the American soldier of the greatest terrorists in Iraq, lice-infested Saddam Hussein and his Baath thugs.
The radical Islamo-fascists must be disarmed and then countered by an Iraqi form of secular moderate Islam punctuated by a call for religious freedom and abundant tolerance. These radical Shiite clerics only stir the lost emotions of a confused following while America continues to tighten the noose on a shrinking head. How about just a few news stories of moderate Muslim thinkers in Iraq protesting the radical element of their own faith?
How about just a brief read of the greater than 50 Iraqi newspapers and perhaps stories on the courageous writers behind them rather than hearing repeatedly about the one that was closed rightfully so after inciting violence on the government? Maybe then my numbing after Fallujah will completely disappear.