Sunday, March 23, 2003

Brand new day

'Humane war' is not an oxymoron - it's on TV


At his first press briefing Saturday, Gen. Tommy Franks was asked, "Isn't there a lot more resistance than you're willing to admit?"

I guess it just wouldn't be a war briefing without an asinine question from at least one reporter.

But the way Franks answered that question said more about how the world has changed than all the war chatter on 24/7 cable.

Franks didn't lose his cool. He calmly replied that it would do no good to stand there and wave his arms for a question like that. "I will not provide the expected response," he said, "to that sort of hype."

The U.S. military is not providing the "expected response" anywhere. And I hope that somewhere in North Korea, there's a lunatic in baggy pajamas who is starting to sweat .50-caliber bullets.

Everyone, including Saddam, was caught flossing when his bunker in Baghdad was bombed.

And when reporters at the Pentagon whined that the war wasn't following the script they had told everyone, including Saddam, to expect, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said, "Good."

The brass is not feeding table scraps to hungry reporters.

This time, the press was invited to run with the big dogs in the infantry. And that gamble is paying off with reports that sound more like the G.I.'s friend Ernie Pyle than Baghdad's bagman, Peter Arnett.

It's a brand new day of world-shaking American power that is wielded with the precision of a neurosurgeon's scalpel to carefully remove a tumor without paralyzing Iraq.

There has never been anything like this in the history of the world. No nation has ever used so much power for such a humane and noble purpose.

If something goes terribly wrong, it will not be the fault of the American and British forces, who have done everything possible to focus the righteous fury of futuristic warfare on the murdering tyrants who have it coming.

Even the French, the Germans and the misguided anti-American anti-war protesters on our streets will have to admit it: This is the most humane war in history.

"Humane war'' sounds like an oxymoron. It sounds like a contradiction in terms as impossible as "French gratitude,'' "German apology'' or "Iraqi elections.''

But what we are watching on TV is a humane war.

The fireballs of smoke and destruction over Baghdad are not pulverizing innocent people; they're lasering away the disease called Saddam.

The protesters insist it's all about "blood for oil'' - and this time they are accidentally right: We are sacrificing our soldiers' blood to save Iraq's oil - for the people of Iraq.

And now even the French can't deny what President Bush has said all along: Saddam is the mother of all liars.

The Scuds he swore he did not have were fired at Kuwait, and Iraq was launching lame denials while the craters still smoked.

Soon we will watch as U.S. soldiers discover torture chambers, mass graves, terrorist training camps and stockpiles of horrifying chemical and biological weapons that could have been used on us.

At the briefing, Franks could have told the reporter, "If you don't trust me, why not go and see for yourself? I have a Humvee waiting to take you to the front.''

But Franks, like the rest of our military, showed mercy and moved on.

Our nation has never had more reason to be thrilled and proud of the military that represents us.

"It's a blessing when very few people lose their lives,'' Franks said.

Amen to that.

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