The 4 Freedoms Library

It takes a nation to protect the nation

American soldiers outside the Bayaa mosque in Baghdad on Oct. 7, 2003. Don Gomez

http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/atwar/2013/10/07/the-day-my-war-end...


By DON GOMEZ, October 7, 2013

Standing shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of heavily armed paratroopers, I looked around at all of us, breathing heavily, angry and resentful, surrounding the Baya mosque in Baghdad. The previous morning, we had arrested the head imam because he was stockpiling weapons in the mosque. Now, under amber street lamps casting wicked shadows, his followers were gathered, demanding his release. My adrenaline was still pumping from the explosion minutes earlier, when one of them tossed a grenade at our line of troops, injuring more than a half-dozen soldiers and civilians. After that, order descended into a running street battle, soldiers wrestling protesters, bodies slamming into the hard concrete. Months of pent-up aggression were suddenly released in a cathartic, chaotic performance.

After that initial fit of violence, things were calming down. We had them surrounded, cornered, their backs to the mosque. Sweat ran down from under my helmet and into my eyes as I struggled to make out the mass of bodies in front of me, searching for a gleam of metal, the shine of a worn-out AK-47. They chanted at us: “America equals Saddam” and “Down down, U.S.A.!”

Imams with dark beards and large black turbans walked among the protesters, handing out bread and tea as our sergeants trooped the line in front of us, yelling and ensuring that we were packed tight next to one another like a Roman phalanx.

Behind us I could hear the rumble of Humvees and tanks, their guns canted over our heads, seemingly trained toward the dome and minaret of the mosque. Above us two helicopters circled, buzzing low, shining their industrial-strength spotlights on the crowd of protesting Iraqis. Hundreds of troops, tanks, Humvees and helicopters. All of this American firepower, focused on the people and the building in front of us, the mosque.

The situation was tense. One panicky soldier, one itchy trigger finger, and there would be a massacre. I was scared.

Off to my right I saw a squad of American soldiers turn to chase someone into an alley, loudly knocking over some garbage cans and startling us all. I laughed nervously and turned to the soldier next to me and said, “I know we’re not at war with Islam, but if someone took a picture right now. …”

That was Oct. 7, 2003. That was the day that the war ended for me.

I was there for the invasion when it was about finding illicit weapons and taking out Mr. Hussein and going home. I was sure that I would be home in time for burgers and fireworks on the Fourth of July.

The summer passed, and I was still there. Hot, miserable and not understanding what I was doing anymore. The insurgency began. We started getting hit more and more frequently. The looks from Iraqis on the street became darker and darker. I could no longer disarm anyone with a smile.

I’ve told this story a hundred times, refining it and polishing it and punching it up. It’s just as true as any war story ever was. It is the story I think about the most. It’s the thing I think about when I think about where it went wrong, where it ended or where it began to end. After that night, the war was never the same. The cool demeanor I prided myself on before was gone, replaced instead with a semi-panicky hypervigilance. I was a soldier determined to get home.

I cringed a little harder when we drove down the bomb-laden streets. When the platoon leader asked for volunteers, I looked around to see if anyone else would raise his hand first. My eyes flicked nonstop to every window we passed, every rooftop. My default reaction to anything I heard from anyone was distrust.

I was sadder when I called home.

Shortly after the protest, we moved from our small, company-size firebase to a new, megaforward operating base, complete with its own dining facility, dormitories, air-conditioning and showers. It was a welcome and wonderful change of pace from the spartan conditions we had endured since deploying earlier in the year.

The riot at the Baya mosque coupled with the move to the F.O.B. marked the beginning of the end of the war for me. I barely felt it then — just a deep-inside, tingling concern about what we were doing. I didn’t know what it was; I just knew I wanted to go home.

But it was the tipping point. If I were asked to look back and pick a time and place at which losing felt inevitable, at which the population turned from cautious supporters to cynics, that would be it. It was the day that I realized that winning from here on out meant simply not losing.

I’m sure every soldier has a story of where his or her war begins and where it ends. This one is mine.

Don Gomez is an Army officer. You can follow him on Twitter: @dongomezjr.

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Replies to This Discussion

A superlative expression of the quandary, both philosophical and military, that the West has got itself in to.  Sadly its largely the military that carry the resulting burden of our idiocy though.

Imams with dark beards and large black turbans walked among the protesters, handing out bread and tea as our sergeants trooped the line in front of us, yelling and ensuring that we were packed tight next to one another like a Roman phalanx.

Behind us I could hear the rumble of Humvees and tanks, their guns canted over our heads, seemingly trained toward the dome and minaret of the mosque. Above us two helicopters circled, buzzing low, shining their industrial-strength spotlights on the crowd of protesting Iraqis. Hundreds of troops, tanks, Humvees and helicopters. All of this American firepower, focused on the people and the building in front of us, the mosque.

... I laughed nervously and turned to the soldier next to me and said, “I know we’re not at war with Islam, but if someone took a picture right now…” .  

Indeed. Obama and the Islamic fascists can bleat on as much as they like about the peacefulness of Islam and there being no clash of civilisations, with the media hammering their fantasy home, but for those poor soldiers literally in the front line, there was no escaping the reality of conflict.  

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Mission Overview

Most Western societies are based on Secular Democracy, which itself is based on the concept that the open marketplace of ideas leads to the optimum government. Whilst that model has been very successful, it has defects. The 4 Freedoms address 4 of the principal vulnerabilities, and gives corrections to them. 

At the moment, one of the main actors exploiting these defects, is Islam, so this site pays particular attention to that threat.

Islam, operating at the micro and macro levels, is unstoppable by individuals, hence: "It takes a nation to protect the nation". There is not enough time to fight all its attacks, nor to read them nor even to record them. So the members of 4F try to curate a representative subset of these events.

We need to capture this information before it is removed.  The site already contains sufficient information to cover most issues, but our members add further updates when possible.

We hope that free nations will wake up to stop the threat, and force the separation of (Islamic) Church and State. This will also allow moderate Muslims to escape from their totalitarian political system.

The 4 Freedoms

These 4 freedoms are designed to close 4 vulnerabilities in Secular Democracy, by making them SP or Self-Protecting (see Hobbes's first law of nature). But Democracy also requires - in addition to the standard divisions of Executive, Legislature & Judiciary - a fourth body, Protector of the Open Society (POS), to monitor all its vulnerabilities (see also Popper). 
1. SP Freedom of Speech
Any speech is allowed - except that advocating the end of these freedoms
2. SP Freedom of Election
Any party is allowed - except one advocating the end of these freedoms
3. SP Freedom of Movement
The government can import new voters - except where that changes the political demographics (i.e. electoral fraud by means of immigration)
4. SP Freedom from Over-spending
People should not be charged for government systems which they reject, and which give them no benefit. For example, the government cannot pass a debt burden across generations (25 years).
An additional Freedom from Religion is be deducible by equal application of law: "Religious and cultural activities are exempt from legal oversight - except where they intrude into the public sphere (Res Publica)"

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