Shadows On The Water
posted at 5:58 pm on October 12, 2010 by Doctor Zero
It’s been ten years since al-Qaeda terrorists blew a hole in the USS Cole, murdering 17 American sailors and injuring 39 more. Our government is not doing enough to honor their memory today. Uniformed soldiers are civilization’s answer to savagery. On October 12, 2000, the bloody frontier of barbarism rolled past the Cole as she rode at anchor.
Standing watch on that bloody frontier is perilous duty, especially in this new age of asymmetrical warfare. The Cole is a guided missile cruiser. Her crew stood ready to answer any challenge, and her advanced weapons made her a match for any ship in her class, or a few classes larger. No one challenged her on the twelfth of October. Two animals masquerading as civilians sailed a tiny boat alongside her hull, and blew a hole at the water line while she took on fuel.
The attack took place on a sunny afternoon, but there were dark shadows on the water that day. A year later, the same terrorist organization took box cutters to the throats of civilian women, and turned commercial airliners into guided missiles. Perhaps we could have averted that tragedy by responding to the act of war against the Cole. Bill Clinton chose not to, the last dereliction of duty in a long string of failures. He chose to treat the incident as a crime. A wiser man would have understood that those who have no appetite for law harbor no fear of it.
Those who volunteer to protect us, both home and abroad, no longer face professional soldiers after a lawful declaration of war. Instead, they live under the threat of murder, delivered by seemingly unarmed civilians. A hunger for indiscriminate slaughter provides a tactical advantage against the highly skilled defenders of life. The first strike of a barbaric aggressor rarely fails to draw blood. The question is whether civilization answers by destroying them. Barbarians never tire of asking that question.
Those who wear America’s colors into battle against terrorism understand their right to vengeance… to justice… may vanish into the jaws of global politics. They don the uniform anyway. The shadows of terror melt before the light of their courage. God forgive us for deploying them under rules of engagement that jeopardize their lives. God bless them for entering the theater of battle anyway.
Ten years ago, 17 sailors died aboard a ship named for Sergeant Darrell Cole, a Marine who attacked two gun emplacements on Iwo Jima single-handedly, before falling to an enemy grenade. The Cole was carried home on a Norwegian transport, nursing a wound that could have filled her heart with seawater. She’s back on duty now. When she was deployed to Lebanon in 2008, Hezbollah screamed that she was a “threat.” Good. The USS Cole, like every American warship above and below the waves, is a threat, and a promise.
Let us today offer a promise to every soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine, in memory of those we lost in the waters of Aden ten years ago: None of you are disposable. None of you will ever be forgotten.
Cross-posted at www.doczero.org.
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