Tribute

Omar Mora and Yance Gray have died in Iraq, just weeks after they contributed to a powerful op-ed in the NYT. In tribute to their lives, I think it only appropriate to return to their op-ed, which offers a far more honest assessment of progress in Iraq than the Petraeus and Crocker dog-and-pony show. Mora, Gray, and their colleagues call for an assessment of progress in Iraq from the perspective of Iraqi civilians, not from an American-centered perspective.

Given the situation, it is important not to assess security from anAmerican-centered perspective. The ability of, say, American observersto safely walk down the streets of formerly violent towns is not aresounding indicator of security. What matters is the experience of thelocal citizenry and the future of our counterinsurgency. When we takethis view, we see that a vast majority of Iraqis feel increasinglyinsecure and view us as an occupation force that has failed to producenormalcy after four years and is increasingly unlikely to do so as wecontinue to arm each warring side.

They point out that the foundation of recent successes in Anbar Province–alliances with Sunni tribes–does not guarantee enduring loyalty.

However, while creating proxies is essential in winning acounterinsurgency, it requires that the proxies are loyal to the centerthat we claim to support. Armed Sunni tribes have indeed becomeeffective surrogates, but the enduring question is where theirloyalties would lie in our absence. The Iraqi government finds itselfworking at cross purposes with us on this issue because it isjustifiably fearful that Sunni militias will turn on it should theAmericans leave.

And they point out that the whole purpose of the surge–to bring out a political solution–has failed and will fail.

Political reconciliation in Iraq will occur, but not at our insistenceor in ways that meet our benchmarks. It will happen on Iraqi terms whenthe reality on the battlefield is congruent with that in the politicalsphere. There will be no magnanimous solutions that please every partythe way we expect, and there will be winners and losers. The choice wehave left is to decide which side we will take. Trying to please everyparty in the conflict — as we do now — will only ensure we are hatedby all in the long run.

This op-ed is powerful refutation to the Petraeus fog. May the voices of Mora and Gray resonate even after their death. RIP.

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  1. Josiah Bartlett says:

    Perhaps the most powerful response to Patraeus and Crokers Congressional testimony is to remind them that they are expressing their opinions from the safety of their plush luxurious air conditioned offices while these men who also expressed their opinion are DEAD.

    Thank you EW.

    I hope their families can find peace.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Bates: Ay, or more than we should seek after; for we know enough, if we know we are the King’s subjects. If his cause be wrong, our obedience to the King wipes the crime of it out of us.

    Williams: But if the cause be not good, the King himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopp’d off in a battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all, â€We died at such a placeâ€; some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of anything, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the King that led them to it.

    William Shakespeare, Henry V

  3. 4jkb4ia says:

    Thanks, EW. After two long days of it, all I could say to my husband was â€The people who could make a difference for the average Iraqi don’t work for usâ€.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The only possible thing sadder than the death of these two (does that make three now, wasn’t there one already at the time of initial publication?), is the fact that the very first thought that came to my mind was whether or not there was any evidence that it was an inside job of some kind. Tillmaned if you will. there sure is a high death rate among those that speak out on this war and have the ability to access the press. While I do not believe that without any further indication; the mere fact that the question comes to mind is disturbing. â€Black matter†indeed Professor.

  5. katie Jensen says:

    Wow, â€tillmanedâ€, I’ll have to remember that new verb. It’s really sad that these types of thoughts come to mind. It’s hard not to wonder. I wonder what the count would be, those who opposed outwardly, had access to press, and are no longer living. How many? Maybe it would be just a handful, maybe more, but it’s such a haunting question that it’s hard to let go.

  6. radiofreewill says:

    “Neither fire nor wind, birth nor death can erase our good deeds.â€

    ~ Buddha

    All love and blessings to the families and friends touched by death.

  7. phred says:

    bmaz, you and I think alike, at least on this occasion. That was the first thought that came to mind when I saw the story over at FDL this morning. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I have become so thoroughly distrustful of our government, I would put nothing past them now. That said, I will wait for further information before leaping to conclusions.

    I am thankful that these two fine soldiers (and their colleagues) had a chance to speak their minds publicly before they died. I hope we live up to their legacy.

  8. mighty mouse says:

    EW and Andrew Foland–Thank you. Josiah Bartlett–You pose what is, for me, the question: Under this despicable administration with its horrendous occupation–where do I, we, the families of the fallen find peace? Peace will not be forthcoming from this administration….

  9. NC Dem says:

    I first saw the notice today at DKos with the article by Brandon Friedman. My first thought was the comments from yesterday’s hearing by Sen Chuck Hagel. He was adamant that the voices of these middle level soldiers be heard and considered in developing a way out of this mess. I immediately called his office to inform him of the deaths. The spokesperson on the phone was speechless. For those that haven’t seen it, I would also recommend that you listen to the Hardball interview with Joe Biden from last night. It was powerful. Chris Matthews is often too soft if not downright wrong on most issues but this segment was great. The wife of one of the soldiers lives about 40 miles from me in the Ft Bragg area. I hope to contact the family and offer what support I can. God bless, EW.

  10. phred says:

    Another thing to ponder… Over at McClatchy there is an article titled â€After two days, no answer to ’how this ends’†(http://www.mcclatchydc.com/). In light of Condi’s latest remarks that we are now Iraq to protect them from Iran, it is clear that the administration does not want this to end. Ever. And so they will keep moving the goal posts and keep deflecting the question they can’t honestly answer. There is an answer of course (â€it doesn’tâ€), but they can’t utter it in public.

    This morning as I think about the deaths of these soldiers, I just find this all painfully tragic.

  11. mighty mouse says:

    Having followed Neil’s link to the life and burial of Sharon Swartworth last night, I find this–what?–even more horrific. These are not statistics, these are human beings. Can’t Congress see that?

  12. dalloway says:

    Thanks for the post, EW and all for the comments. But I have to confess, I’m uncomfortable with describing the deaths of these brave men as â€tragedy.†That implies some sort of cosmic inevitability, which was emphatically NOT the case here. Omar Mora and Yance Gray died because George W. Bush and Dick Cheney started an illegal, immoral war for their own political and financial gain. Mora and Gray did not die tragic deaths — they were murdered by war criminals, along with thousands of other American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

  13. Albert Fall says:

    They died as soldiers.

    They spoke as patriots.

    There are no good deaths, but they went about life the right way.

  14. Adie says:

    Hi EW.

    Can anyone here tell me if they’ve had trouble accessing FDL recently?

    I was cut off a few minutes ago, by the toobz, and can’t raise anything since.
    Dang machine keeps telling me attempts to connect are â€timed outâ€, maybe the site is â€busy†etc.

    Weird.

    Thanks for any info you guys might be able to provide. – Adie

  15. Anonymous says:

    As for 4jkb4ia & bmaz at 9:50 & 9:55, respectively, my first thought, too, is in the category of Impossible-To-Overestimate-Bush-Cheney-Cynicism: Did the administration deliberately withhold release of this information from public release until after yesterday’s hearings were completed? Too bad Sen. Hagel didn’t have that one to lay on the table.

  16. grayslady says:

    Adie, I have occasionally had problems with FDL. Finally made them a Trusted Site, and the problems disappeared. Might want to give it a try.

  17. Adie says:

    Thanks much for checking, MNChuck.

    We’re in midst of switch from defunct adelfya to thymewanna.

    Driving us nuts. Don’t know when it’s gonna hiccup here, or…
    Well… just ’cause i’m paranoid, doesn’t mean… *sigh*

    Sad sad topics all over today. Wondering here, why Hagel couldn’t just go ahead and pursue any subject matter he wants. Mebbe he needs a nudge? He surely had a head of steam there, last I looked. Refreshing to see an angry pubnikan ;->

    Just noticed yer latest. So it’s not just me.
    Guess I’ll keep trying. It was getting slow & hinky right before I lost it.

    Carry on. Thanks again. Appreciate the helping hand.

  18. Adie says:

    Thanks grayslady. Sounds like a good idea. Part of our trubble lately is all the new security dodads, firewalls etc.

    I’m using firefox. Can anyone tell me where to look for that setting â€Trusted Siteâ€?

  19. phred says:

    dalloway, Hamlet was not a cosmic tragedy, but one exclusively due to the greed, avarice, and machinations of men. A tragedy is â€an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress†according to my Oxford American Dictionary. Clearly, the Iraq War qualifies. Further that dictionary defines tragic as â€causing or characterized by extreme distress or sorrowâ€. And I do find the loss of ordinary people brave enough to stand up to this administration’s horrific policies causes me extreme sorrow. We need more such people. We cannot afford to lose the ones we have. This entire dreadful period of our history has been characterized by a troubling lack of bravery on the part of a majority of Americans and our so-called leaders. It makes me weep to lose those few in a position to speak out with authority who have done so. I am an ordinary person of no notable qualifications in either military affairs or governance. I have well founded opinions, but no particular expertise. I rail against the injustices I see all around me to anyone who will listen to no avail. To then lose two voices who had an authority I could never possess is absolutely a tragedy.

  20. Shez says:

    Adie,

    In Firefox for Trusted Sites-
    1. Tools > Options > Privacy tab
    2. Click Cookies then click Exceptions button
    3. Type in the URL to allow, click Allow button

    Hope this helps!

  21. grayslady says:

    Adie, I use IE, but I suspect Firefox has something similar. On IE, I click on Tools, Internet Options, and Security. Under the Security tab, you have an option to add a particular site as a Trusted Site.

  22. Adie says:

    Thanks everyone! I’ll leave you alone now. Apologies for the intrusion. Very unsettling times lately. Plan to come back and read s’more of the excellent discussion, when I can get our toobz straightened out. ;->

  23. Alyx says:

    2 long days of the same stuff and still not a pretty picture in sight. This conflict will go on and on and on….and hopefully not ending to the tune of â€Bomb’s awayâ€. Can you imagine if they decide that one? Geeezus!!!! Another option is finally decrease and let all hell break loose, and that will be terrible for the people there, but is it even much better. The best solution from the beginning was world support. UN support. UN troops plus other assisting troops from worldwide, holding down the fort and making these tribals talk…yes making them talk…Holding every town at bay under Martial law until everyone comes out shaking…and that would even need a heavy dose of ’Pixie Dust’…any other soloutions?

  24. P J Evans says:

    UN troops plus other assisting troops from worldwide, holding down the fort and making these tribals talk…yes making them talk…Holding every town at bay under Martial law until everyone comes out shaking…and that would even need a heavy dose of ’Pixie Dust’…any other soloutions?

    Not a solution. This is what we’ve been doing (minus the UN and the rest of the world) and it hasn’t worked.

    How would you feel if it were your city and your country being treated that way?

  25. Alyx says:

    P.J. If I was one of the citizens undergoing what is going around them like it is now…I would say yes bring on the military for stability..but it has not been the same, because we are not everywhere and cannot watch every town. At least it would put a halt to the bombings and killings of innocent peoples and children P.J.

  26. Anonymous says:

    As I reread their NYT OP-ED, I’m amazed at its clarity and wisdom. I propose we call it the Gray-Mora Plan and fight to implement it. It beats the hell out of what we heard Monday and Tuesday [and will hear Thursday]…

  27. Anonymous says:

    War is for people who give up. Quitter’s, yes the hawks are either quitters who cut and run from the work of dialoguing. Or are too agenda driven for oil profits to care about the dead, injured and the destroyed cities. This is ruthless profiteering in the name of patriotism. That is transparent and Bushco perspercasity that flies in its face. And that demeaning hypocricy of sacrifice for country is the highest crime a leader can commit. As a war criminal he needs to be tried and punished. Sentence eternal grave tending of the dead and a Clockwork Orange type of movie watching of the maimed with head and food breaks.
    The reason he did not wait for others countries to partner in Iraq is greed. The American oligarchy wanted all the booty for themselves. See the Hunt contract with our old buddies the Kurds.