Marshall Frank: Ending Iraq War one thing, keeping peace another

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

In 2007, my artist-wife, Suzanne, created an event near Rockledge, in Brevard County, to honor the (then) 3,600 servicemen and women who had already sacrificed their lives toward a noble cause, fighting terrorism and striving to give the people of Iraq a sense of freedom and liberty.

In conjunction with the Unitarian-Universalist church property on U.S. 1, Suzanne’s vision was realized when 3,600 poles were impaled into the grounds facing the busy federal highway, each with banners of red, white and blue, and each with the names of deceased soldiers noted on the sides of the poles.

A memorial ceremony was held, tears flowed, patriotic music was played. Over one month, at least a half million cars passed the site facing the highway, many stopping to take photographs.

In the end, 4,486 American soldiers lost their lives while many thousands more Iraqi soldiers and civilians lost theirs in the noble fight. That, plus multi-thousands that came home with broken minds and bodies.

Did it all go for naught?

As I write, Iraq is falling. Hard-core al-Qaida terrorists and their savage partners from Syria are on the doorstep of Baghdad, already brutal conquerors of several major cities like Tikrit and Mosel. Terrorists are lining up loyal Iraqi soldiers and police officers in ditches, shooting them Nazi style by the hundreds. Bodies are in the streets, beheaded, as a warning to all those that will dare to oppose Islamic radicalism. Many Iraqi soldiers are laying down arms and running for their lives. It’s all but over. They win. Iraqi freedom loses. We lose.

Experts saw it coming. Anyone well-schooled in the mindset of Islamic extremists and their obsession with terror could well educate people including our government leaders, about the hard-core determination of violent Jihadist organizations. When they see a void, they will seize the opportunity. Their focus is unending. Conquest is an absolute purpose. They are not benevolent to the conquered. Neither do they tolerate non-Muslims.

It might have been a shining moment for the president, but we left a void when the United States pulled out all American soldiers. Iraq was unprepared to survive on its own. We should have known that.

In other great wars, after conflicts ceased, we left contingency personnel within the nation as peacekeepers, to preserve what we had sacrificed for. Where would South Korea be today if not for the U.S. position in that nation? This administration chose otherwise despite pleas from top military commanders to keep a force in Iraq, including Gens. Lloyd J. Austin and John M. Keane, who were involved in that fight and recommended stationing 23,000 troops. We are seeing the consequences of that decision.

We were right to end the war. But ending the war is not the same as preserving the peace, which we failed to do. The clarity of hindsight is no consolation.

America is saddened. The broken warriors and families of dead soldiers are saddened. We are saddened for the Iraqi people, to whom we owed more. It could have been prevented.

Gone for naught? Seems so.



  1. Donald Gilleland June 25, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    This is a never ending battle. We only stay focused for short periods. We think in terms of quarterly reports; our enemies think in terms of hundreds of years. We are tired of war because we have been constantly engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan for 10-12 years. The Islamic Jihadist are more patient than we are. Besides, except for the financial investment, we have not really been at war. Our volunteer military has been at war, while the rest of us have been to the mall.

    We’ve been engaged in some form of war constantly since WW II, but we haven’t won a war since 1945, which was a time when our country was unified. It no longer is. We can’t seem to come together on any major issues.

    Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Queda, Islamic Jihad and a dozen other Islamic radical groups are all outgrowths of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood was established in 1928 and has a 100-year plan to establish a worldwide Caliphate in which Sharia Law will apply to everyone. If that happens, our Constitutional guarantees and Christian and Jewish traditions will become obsolete because they are incompatible with Sharia Law.

    The ultimate goal of Islam is not to take over Iraq. That is only a symptom of our problem. The ultimate goal of Islam is world domination, in which Islam is the only religion and Sharia Law applies to everyone. Watch what happens in Muslim countries. Women are enslaved. Muslim men treat their cattle better than their women. Note that there is not even one Christian church in Saudi Arabia, and very few in any other Muslim country. Muslims have been killing Coptic Christians in Egypt at a furious rate, and Christians have been leaving Muslim countries in droves, because they fear for their lives. In Africa, Muslims are butchering Christians all over the continent, except perhaps for South Africa where Muslims are a minority.

    If we want the next couple of generations of Americans to live in the kind of country we grew up in, we will have to be every vigilant and willing to defend our country and our way of life for a lot more than 12 years.

    Every American should buy a copy of an English language translation of the Koran and Hadith and read them, so they can know what doctrines Muslims follow. But, mostly, we have to be prepared to make huge sacrifices to preserve our way of life.

  2. Chuck Pierce June 25, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    We do not owe Iraq anything, what we do owe is to prevent a greater problem in the middle east than already exists. I am a Retired Armor Officer and spent the last 8 years of my career as a Plans Officer at V Corps, the boss asked me to monitor the situation in Iraq and Iran during the dust up in the 1980’s. It was obvious then, just as it is obvious now that the country is broken and can not be fixed. The 2003 war was to remove a brutal, despotic dictator, who had violated the Armistice signed in 1990 and who had no problem killing his own people in large number. He need to be removed. The chaos in the country today is a direct result of the political decisions taken at the time of the defeat of the armies of Iraq. For me the best bet is to break the country in to three counties, Kurds in the north, Sunni in the middle and Shite in the south. The SF operators can only stabilize the situation not fix it.

  3. marv June 25, 2014 at 10:24 am #

    The Vietnamese folk are happy to let us come visit anytime we would like. The will let us come and find the remains of our fallen soldiers or if they find remains they will notify us so that we may pick up the remains.Alas, that war was not about religion. It was about various forms of a religion which governs their lives. Religious wars have been the most horrible in scope. Most recent in the western world, Northern Ireland.

  4. Charlie June 25, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    The result in Iraq now is what you have when a “community organizer” becomes a commander in chief of our armed forces.

  5. Howard Bernbaum June 25, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    We had no business going into Iraq in the first place, The Kurds, Shia and Sunni have been at war with each other from the beginning and will continue so as that is their nature. Our Founding Fathers all advised us to butt out of other nation’s internal affairs. Thanks to the liberal mindset we have caused the deaths of hundreds off thousands of our children getting involved in wars that wee none of our business.

  6. lady jane June 25, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    Amen to Larry, US Navy Retired….

  7. Richard Moore June 25, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    I am saddened beyond description by what is happening as a result of Obama’s decision making. I believe more and more each day that he has an agenda that calls for the destruction of our republic. If this is not the case, then he is so patently stupid that he should not be allowed outside by himself!

  8. Larry and Margie Epstein June 25, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    Marshall – Margie and I agree on this.

    We lost approximately 4500 boys and girls and over $1 trillion in the debacle that was Iraq.. When we were kids, we built castles in the sand by the Atlantic Ocean. As the tide carried the water toward shore, the castle would erode, leaving the beach as it was.

    The night that George Bush attacked Tehran 13 or 14 years ago, I sat in a bar watching the pyrotechnics of modern warfare on TV and proclaimed too loudly, I guess, that we were crazy to get involved. I remember how fifty or so years ago, as a young and inexperienced fellow, I looked at the aftermath of Tonkin Bay, and asked, “Why?”

    Margie and I don’t agree often about what is happening, but on this we do. They’ve been fighting over there for over 1000 years and have accomplished nada, nothing, bubkes. This is just a note of exasperation, not an essay, so let us end this until we speak. Hardly objectively, but let them do whatever they want with each other, except leave Israel in peace. My grandmother, whom you met, was fond of saying, in Yiddish, “Go bang your head against the wall”. See where that gets you

    Then there was Iraq; then there was Afghanistan. There’s no end to the religion-addicted madmen who are fond of saying, “I do this in the name of my God or my tribe”. Well, f— your God and leave my boys and girls alone…and my wallet, too!

    With great fondness for Susanne and you and a remembrance of Mr. Canonico, I will close now.


  9. Mike June 25, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    Many many people, including myself, believe what Marshall has written. Others have written similar documents.

    So why is it that the big Think Tanks sponsored by millions of taxpayer dollars, have not come to a similar conclusion. Or if so, why hasnt our brilliant government acted on this advice?

    Why is it that a regiment of Muslims can take over most of Iraq with only a few vehicles with mounted machine guns? Iraq still has tanks. They are fueling their march with rations, ammo, weapons, dropped by Iraqi forces. Now their forces are ever growing because it looks like they are going to win.

    Muslims do not negociate. If they want to talk peace, it means that they want time to regroup and rearm and obtain more food that the US is providing. History has proven this.


  10. Jan Siren June 25, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    I was one of those who helped place those red, white and blue banners in the front yard of the Unitarian Universalist church along US 1 in 2007. What doing that meant to me then was not that conflict in the Middle East was over, but that every US service member who died there gave a life of value, a life that should have been commemorated. And it means the same to me now.

    So when Cheney et al. appear back in the media calling for renewed US military action – Iraq redux – all of us have to ask them what is the end state you seek? Can it be achieved with 3,600 American lives? What is the cost – and is it worth the cost? Those questions must be answered honestly before we go any further back down this road.

  11. Jack Milavic June 25, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    Prior to our invasion of Iraq, Bagdad was one of my favorite cities to work and visit. Clean, safe and complete religious freedom was exercised. Yes, Saddam and sons were dictators and oppressive. Yes, they could have been surgically removed. No we did not know who would have replaced them. NO and I repeat NO there were no weapons of mass destruction.

    From our perspective I asked many of my friends and associates how they would feel if invaded by a foreign entity, not one single person responded in favor of an invasion and occupation. I asked if invaded and occupied what would you recommend and 100% replied “fight the bastards and kick them out of our country”.

    Since Vietnam, we have witnessed that full scale occupation by our military is a not winning situation and only benefits a few contractors and military leaders verses imbedding advisors.

    CWO5 retired

  12. Roland Peterson June 25, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

    To Donald Gilleland, – The Korean and Grenada liberations were at least decent wars that preserved freedom for some people. My burning question is: will our Constitution be used to enable Sharia Law in our U.S.A.?

  13. Jose June 25, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

    Colin Powell advised against the invasion of Iraq saying “If we break it, we better be prepared to fix it”. Bush and Cheny refused the advise. The two fools went forward anyway costing us 1.3 trillion dollars and thousands of casualities. Now Cheny wants to blame Obama for the mess. How incredibly stupid can we be to believe Cheny about anything. Iraq’s tribes have been fighting each other for thousands of years and we cannot fix that, no matter how much we spend. Time to power down and write it off before we lose more good men for no good reason.

  14. Snake Hunter June 25, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    Most Of The World Does Not Understand This Intolerant Death Cult That Has Been Masquerading As A Religion For 1400 Years… Most Americans Do Not Understand It.
    Our schools will not teach middle-eastern history, or even U.S. early history, or ww2 history to high school students…. So, we’ll stay “thumb-sucking ignorant”… and the concept of ‘liberty and justice for all’ will be lost forever… to future generations.
    We’ve done this to ourselves. – reb — > >
    ___ ___

  15. Larry Usoff, US Navy Retired June 25, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

    I usually agree with you 100%, but on this issue, only 99%. We “owe” the Iraqi people nothing. THEY OWE US…billions in dollars, thousands of lives…and none of it will ever be repaid. The middle east muddle is not going to be “fixed” by “Westerners” because they have not yet embraced the concept of governance. They are tribal. They have been tribal for thousands of years. We cannot change that in a decade or two.

  16. Dr. Ray June 25, 2014 at 7:45 pm #


    As I always say, another outstanding post. I feel so much at my wits end, that I can’t even begin to tell all who read this. One of my favorite movies of all time was Platoon. At one point, Sgt. Barnes says about the politicians, we can’t fight this war with “one hand tied behind their balls.” That has always been my feeling about any of our military involvements in the Middle East. Many years ago, during the mid to late 1980s, a friend of mine described the Middle East as a “hot bed of terrorism.” He was so right.

    In my response to one of your recent previous posts, I said that we should neutron bomb most of the Middle East. My understanding is that George Bush Sr. eliminated the neutron bomb from our arsenal. I stand by what I say. There may be some percentage of the population that is sympathetic and friendly to us, but so there was in Germany and Japan. My father served in the German Navy for 16 years, but opted to leave his family and come to the U.S. in the late 30’s because he did not support Hitler, and saw the hand- writing on the wall.

    To be upfront with everyone, I am a registered Republican and VERY conservative. As I jokingly say, I may have been called every obscenity imaginable, but no one has ever called me a liberal.

    Personally, my feeling is that we have to fight the war in the Middle East with an “iron fist,” as another friend put it. Forget about women or children, whether we offending someone’s (Muslim) customs, when our Commanders tell the troops they can use their weapons, etc. The 7th century savages who flew into the World Trade Centers didn’t give a crap (polite description) about who they killed. All of these people are vermin. They either directly or indirectly support Islam. If there are “good ones” there, they either have to care for themselves or fall.

    We have also had a failure at home, thanks to our Muslim president. It may be my ignorance, but I have never even heard of Isis until the current situation in Iraq, and I wonder, did our security agencies (CIA, NSA) have no clue as to what was developing? What a failure. Eliminating these people is like dealing with cancer. Until you get rid of all of the cells, it’s still there.

    Again, I need to stop my rant here. Looking at the impending fall of Iraq, I would be more than pissed off if I had a son or daughter who served there, and they came back wounded, deceased, or with PTSD. Our country is close to being dead, thanks to
    Barry Sotero. He did say that he would fundamentally “transform America.”