Sunday, October 5, 2008

Moment of Truth in Iraq by Michael Yon

Moment of Truth in Iraq

Moment of Truth in Iraq
by Michael Yon

Hardback: 3227 pages
Publisher: Richard Vigilante Books
First Released: 2008

Source: Bought from Amazon

Back Cover Blurb:
Never underestimate the American soldier.

That’s the moral of former Green Beret Michael Yon’s brilliant battle-by-battle, block-by-block tale of how America’s new ‘greatest generation’ is turning defeat and disaster into victory and hope in Iraq

The American soldier is the reason General David Petraeus’s brilliant strategy of moving our soldiers off isolated bases and out among the Iraqi people is working. Working to find and kill terrorists, reclaim neighborhoods, and help lead Iraq to democracy.

Iraqis respect strength. They saw that American soldiers are “great-hearted warriors” who rejoice in killing the Al Qaeda terror gangs that took over whole cities, “raped too many women and boys, cut off too many heads, brought drugs into too many neighborhoods.”

But Iraqis also discovered that these great warriors are even happier helping rebuild a clinic or a school or a neighborhood. They learned from the American soldier that the most dangerous man in the world, could be the best man too.

Moment of Truth in Iraq is packed with Yon’s trademark exciting and often heart-rending tales from the battlefield:

-The American commander fed up with phony Al Qaeda ‘documentaries’ that showed terrorists shooting at bombed out American vehicles as if they had beaten us in open battle. The commander and his men staged the “bombing” of a broken down truck. The when the terrorists came to put on their act Navy SEAL snipers killed every one.

-Follow to the exploits of the great “Deuce Four” battalion that became the center of a “warrior cult” dreaded by terrorists and revered by Iraqis.

-Think Iraqi soldiers can’t fight? Read the story of an elite Iraqi SWAT team taking down a terror cell for the murder of four American soldiers and a brave Iraqi guide.

-Think Americans are occupiers, not liberators, of Iraq? Tell that to the wounded Iraqi interpreter, who, convinced he was about to die, begged his U.S. commander to have his heart cut out and buried in America.

-Learn why so many Iraqi boys dream of becoming American soldiers.

-Why our greatest ally in this war is “a citizen with a cell phone who believes the future belongs to the people killing the terrorists.”

Brutalized by Saddam for decades, Iraqis hungered for strength entwined with justice and tempered by mercy. The American soldier delivered.

We are winning the war in Iraq, not primarily with our overwhelming technology, not with shock and awe destruction, but with the even more powerful force of American values-with the courage and leadership, strength and compassion of soldiers who know both how to kill the bad guy and comfort the child.

Here is the true, untold story of the American soldier and the courage and values that are bringing victory for America-and Iraq.

I don't normally review non-fiction books, but this is such an important book that I felt like I needed to get the word out about it. Don't let the price of the book stop you, either! (The cheapest place I've seen it so far is from the publisher.)

Michael Yon has been covering the fighting in Iraq for years and has been all over that country. He has a solid and unique overview of what has and has not worked in Iraq.

Michael Yon doesn't pander to sides but searches for the truth. He's the first to say we screwed up in some major ways when he was first over there, but now he reveals what we're doing now that's really working and why it's working. Yes, we really are winning now, and he's a bit baffled as to why people in America don't believe it (which is probably why he wrote a book about it).

The thing is, he also made it clear that if we drop the ball now on our winning strategy, we could lose all the progress we've made and things could become worse off than before. So, you want to prevent our soldiers from dying needlessly? Then read this book.

The book is vividly written. It's interesting to read and easy to follow. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone.

Excerpt: Chapter One
Baqubah, Iraq, June 19, 2007

Thoughts flow on the eve of a great battle. By the time you read these words, we will be in combat. Few ears have heard even rumors of this battle, and fewer still are the eyes that will see its full scope. Even now--for the battle has already begun for some--little news of it reaches home. I have known of the plans for a month, but have kept silent.

This campaign, a series of carefully orchestrated battalion- and brigade-sized operations, is collectively the largest battle since "major hostilities" ended more than four years ago. Even the media here on the ground do not seem to have sensed its scale.

Al Qaeda and associates had little or no presence in Iraq before the current war. But we made huge mistakes early on and now we pump blood and gold into the desert to pay for those blunders. We failed to secure the streets and we sowed doubt and mistrust. We disbanded the government and the army and we created a vacuum. We tolerated corruption and ineptitude and mostly local talent filled the ranks of an insurgency. But when we flattened parts of Fallujah not once but twice in response to the murders of four of our people, we helped create a spectacle of injustice and chaos. Al Qaeda took entree while militias and insurgency groups began to thrive. The magnitude of true injustices was magnified line by line, hair by hair, by a frenzied media. But it wasn't the media's fault; the media did not flatten Fallujah or rape and torture prisoners. We did that all by ourselves.

We walked into a dry, cracked land, along the two arteries of Mesopotamia that have long pulsed water and blood into the sea. In a place where everything that is not desert is tinder; sparks make fire.

When we devastated Fallujah, al Qaeda grew like a tumor. Before al Qaeda we faced a bewildering complex of insurgent groups with conflicting ideologies and goals, along with opportunistic thugs. The amalgam of men (and women) with guns was so diverse and the affiliations so dynamic that it was hard to track who was responsible for what atrocity. Each attack spawned reprisals that demanded yet another round of revenge. Al Qaeda had been trying to ignite a civil war here for several years; chaos and brutality would become its fuel.

Today al Qaeda is strong, but their welcome grows cold. The Coalition was not alone in failing to keep its promises. Iraqis love to say "America put a man on the moon but cannot turn on our lights," and the implication was we really didn't care. In so many ways we lost the moral high ground.

But then al Qaeda raped too many women and boys, cut off too many heads, and brought drugs into too many neighborhoods. And they haven't even tried to get the power going, or keep the markets open, or build schools, or playground, or clinics for the children. Instead, as we ineptly tried to rebuild, they destroyed. They destroyed and murdered Iraqis who dared to work in such places or patronize them. And not only schools and clinics: they brought murder to mosques and churches too.

Finally, those few who were paying close attention could feel it. A barely perceptible change in the atmosphere that signals big change could come. But to make the change we had to change. Remarkably we did. But that story is for later.


Truck Reviews said...

American soldiers are the best of America’s virtues, but with all due respect the American people know that this must have an end sometime. We cannot police the world with our brave, and courageous young men and women, that put their lives on the line each day. The people here at home know that there are many injustices in the world, and our armed forces are in the position to see much of this first hand. Being the companionate people that we are, I can understand why our military personnel there feel the need to stay and help, but they must also understand that the burden of building a nation half a world away has put great stresses on our economy here back home, we do not have the ability to maintain this forever.

Genre Review said...

I don't think anyone wants our soldiers to stay over in Iraq (or Afghanistan or elsewhere) forever.

Perhaps you missed the point: this books shows how we can bring our troops home sooner rather than later and how we can spend less money and lives doing so and still leave Iraq in a state of peace instead of pulling out abruptly and leaving chaos (which would negatively effect us even back in America). This book points out a win-win-win solution, something everyone claims they want, thus the reason I reviewed it here.