Diana West

Such questions never enter into PC policymaking. The problem, PC-policymakers maintain, is ours alone. Maybe we did topple Saddam Hussein, fight Islamic terror troops, and bring democracy and air conditioners to a benighted land. But that's not enough to win "hearts and minds," or so the PC theory goes. And that's where the new counterinsurgency strategy comes in -- killing the enemy while, as the Standard wrote, "spending time with the (Iraqi) people, getting to know them and building relationships with them."

Gee. Is this a war plan, or a Miss Universe contest?

Recently, I came across a heart-stopping story from "A Man Called Intrepid," William Stevenson's book about World War II intelligence operations. It concerned a ghastly, brilliant British air raid on Copenhagen in spring 1945. The objective, next door to a school, was a Gestapo prison. There, Danish underground leaders were being tortured, thus compromising the entire underground network and bona fide nuclear secrets and potentially resulting in the diversion of 200,000 German troops to fight American forces. The air raid was a stunning success. It was also a terrible tragedy. Not only did the British lose 10 airmen, but 27 teachers and 87 children were killed, with many more civilians badly injured.

The battlefields then and now have few parallels, but imagine, for a moment, that 87 children were killed in an important air raid in terror-riddled Baghdad, not Nazi-occupied Copenhagen. Imagine, also, the ensuing mayhem and media amplification of an "irreparable blow to the battle for Iraqi `hearts and minds.'"

Now, back to the historical account: One of the raid's planners, Ted Sismore, later returned to the bombed school in Copenhagen to offer an explanation. "The parents of the dead children, to his astonishment, gave him comfort. 'They wanted me to know the raid was necessary.'"

The Danes knew his heart, and were of one mind. This could hardly be more different from Iraq for many reasons, including cultural ones separating Islamic and Western cultures. Gen. Petraeus decrees Iraqis "must understand that we -- not our enemies -- occupy the moral high ground." But does their political-religious culture even permit such an understanding? We must face up to this question if we ever want a winning war plan.


Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).