Mona Charen

American soldiers have been disobeying orders. According to The Washington Times, some members of the Army's Civil Affairs Brigade stationed at Umm Qasr are routinely tucking extra cases of bottled water into their Humvees to distribute to thirsty Iraqi civilians. This is against regulations, as rations for soldiers are meant to be kept separate from relief to the civilian population.

But there are problems with the water supply to this region. Though military planners had hoped to have a pipeline and water delivery system providing fresh drinking water to Iraqi civilians running smoothly by now, there have been snags. The drivers assigned to truck water from the pipeline to populated areas have sometimes taken bribes to sell the water to farmers, instead, or have attempted to gouge the locals. The parched civilians who do reach water trucks are frequently trampled in the tumult that surrounds a delivery.

And so American GIs are tucking extra water into their Humvees and handing it out to civilians -- in some cases to the point where our soldiers are going without. The Navy Seabees have also leaped into action, rigging up two reverse-osmosis machines to remove the salt from seawater. "Officially, we're here to generate water for military use," said Petty Officer Ralph Moore, "but unofficially, we do what we can to help."

Has there ever before in history been an invading force that was more careful of enemy civilians than the enemy itself? The coalition is killing large numbers of Iraqis who choose to die for Saddam, but has made it abundantly clear that we are not at war with the people of Iraq and wish to spare them as far as is humanly possible.

The lights and power in Baghdad remain on (except when the regime darkens the capital for its own reasons), and the provision of humanitarian relief has been a top priority since the onset of hostilities. The Saddamites, of course, are trying every disgusting trick they know -- from using schools and hospitals as military bases; to firing from inside mosques; to literally driving women and children before soldiers into battle -- to encourage civilian casualties. Coalition forces have declined to oblige.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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