Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
2008.04.21 : Moment of Truth
"Nurture your mind with great thoughts; to believe in the heroic makes heroes."
- Benjamin Disraeli

Okay, I lied (about not posting political/military stuff for awhile). I mentioned previously that Michael Yon (read a bit about him here) has spent more time embedded in Iraq than pretty much anyone. He's got a new book coming out detailing what he saw: Moment of Truth in Iraq. My copy is on its way, and I will post a review as soon as I devour it. Meantime, he's got an interview in National Review that is really compelling reading. A few excerpts are included below.

As a side note: Yon didn't really go to Iraq to be a cheerleader – and he's as big a critic as anyone of the numerous and dire mistakes we've made. But he found that what he was seeing on the news did not comport with what he heard was happening from the soldiers he knew over there – so he went over to find out for himself. As a result, he's had the opportunity to watch the troops closer up than just about anyone, and is a compelling and credible commentator on the character of the American soldier – and the value that represents for all of us.

"In a counter insurgency American soldiers trained to hunt and kill terrorists may find themselves in a Baghdad neighborhood talking to the locals about sewage removal. If it needs to be done, they do it or help do it. And next thing you know, the locals are telling our folks where the terrorists are hiding."

"The American soldier is the most dangerous man in the world, and the Iraqis had to learn that before they would trust or respect our folks. But it is only after they see with their own eyes that we are even happier helping to build a school or to make a neighborhood safe that we really got their attention."

"We are winning partly because in the most violent sections of the country this became a war of competing values, terrorist values vs. American values. Few people with a choice choose al Qaeda."

"When al-Qaeda murderers detonate a bomb in the middle of a crowd of school children, our guys rush the kids to the medics. Then they go kill the terrorists. They are really good at both. They may enjoy hanging out with kids more than killing terrorists, but it's a close call."

"American soldiers love dogs and you will find dogs on every big base in Iraq even though it's completely against the rules. When I embedded with the Tennessee National Guard the base was full of them – mostly sleeping right outside the dining hall. But at night those dogs were out patrolling the perimeter. The dogs know whose side they are on."

"Many Iraqi kids have been brought back to the U.S. for medical treatment after soldiers found them sick. I recall the case of Rhma in 2005 in Mosul. Cute little girl with a heart condition. The soldiers got the case rolling, and before long good-hearted American citizens had her in New Mexico getting treated. I recall a story wherein her mom was so surprised because she thought Americans must hate Iraqis, and then she realized we don't hate them at all."

"Infantry soldiers are great to talk to because they really don't have time for anything but the unvarnished truth. Some army or state department bureaucrat might issue a memo like 'The tenuous security situation in Ramadi makes it advisable to don protective headgear in situations in which visitors may be exposed to hostile fire.' The infantry will just put up a sign that says 'The last dumbass who didn't duck got shot in the head.'"

"The best thing the U.S. is going to get out of Iraq is a great generation of leaders who have had a unique experience in American history of trying to help freedom and democracy and the rule of law take root in a culture that has never known them. Someone should write a book about what that experience could mean for American democracy."

If you're interested to read more in-depth stories from Yon, you might start here, with this pretty stunning story about Kiowa helicopter pilots in Mosul.

[Incidentally, Scott 'www.ewav.com' Christensen has contributed some nicely balanced counterpoints to all my Iraq cheerleading here.]

  books     iraq     reader mail     the military     book reviews  
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Seven - Death of Empires, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eight - Empire of the Dead by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : NEMESIS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Nine - Cataclysm by Michael Stephen Fuchs

ARISEN, Book Ten - The Flood by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eleven - Deathmatch by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Twelve - Carnage by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Thirteen - The Siege by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Fourteen - Endgame by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Fickisms
ARISEN : Odyssey
ARISEN : Last Stand
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 1 - The Collapse
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 2 - Tribes
Black Squadron
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 3 - Dead Men Walking
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 4 - Duty
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 5 - The Last Raid
ARISEN : Fickisms ][ – This Time, It's Personal
ARISEN : Operators, Volume I - The Fall of the Third Temple
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