Fighting a war with soccer balls |

Fighting a war with soccer balls

Chuck Muth
For the Appeal

Gen. David Patraeus’ report on military operations in Iraq is due this month, but many have already made up their minds that it’s time to pull the plug. And I’m not just talking about anti-war dope-smoking hippies and Democrats in Congress. But perhaps I’m repeating myself.

The fact is America hasn’t fought an all-out war to win since we dropped the Big One on Japan to bring World War II to an end. We fought Korea to a stalemate, and lost in Vietnam. We pulled up short of outright victory in the first Gulf War, allowing Saddam and his minions to live to fight another day. And that other day is today.

As the enemy continues to shoot down and blow up American military personnel, along with innocent civilians, our soldiers and our allies are forced to fight a politically correct war with one, and often both hands, tied behind their backs. Call it “compassionate combat,” brought to you by our “compassionate conservative” American president.

It goes kinda like this: Johnny Jihadi blows up an American convoy or shoots at American soldiers. Johnny J runs away. GI Joe pursues Johnny J. Johnny J runs into a mosque. GI Joe, thanks to the politically correct “rules of engagement” he’s forced to fight under, gives up the chase and lets Johnny J get away. To fight another day. To kill more Americans and more innocent civilians. That’s infuriating.

It’s as if we’re playing a game of tag on the playground, where you’re “safe” from being tagged “it” if you reach home “base.” But this is no game; it’s war. And there should be no safe base in war. If Johnny Jihadi runs into a mosque … bye-bye mosque, baby! No apology necessary.

Yet our military last week was reduced to apologizing for … soccer balls.

What? You missed this story?

“The U.S. military regrets any offense it may have caused by handing out a soccer ball emblazoned with the name of Allah on it as part of a public relations exercise in Afghanistan,” according to an Associated Press story out of Kabul on 28 August. “At least one of the balls – which were dropped by helicopter to children in Khost province in eastern Afghanistan – carried a small picture of the Saudi Arabian flag. The flag features in Arabic script the Islamic declaration of faith, which contains the words Allah and the Prophet Muhammed. … Most (Muslims) would find the idea of kicking a ball emblazoned with those two names deeply offensive.”

Indeed, the AP reports that villagers, the target of this “winning the hearts and minds” PR gesture, were “upset and angry.”

Oh, puh-lease. Such Muslim hyper-sensitivity over a goodwill gesture is ridiculous. Nevertheless, the most powerful military on earth was reduced to groveling for forgiveness. “We regret any disturbance that was caused in this case,” said military spokesman Sgt. Dean Welch. “If we hurt one person, this is one too many.”

Are you kidding me? It’s bad enough when military lawyers handcuff our soldiers’ ability to hurt or kill the enemy when he runs into a mosque, but when the brass starts regretting “disturbances” which might have hurt somebody’s “FEELINGS”, something is seriously wrong with this picture.

If our troops aren’t allowed to kill the enemy wherever he runs without worrying about hurting somebody’s feelings, then no matter what Gen. Patraeus says in his report, we’re doomed to failure and might as well throw in the towel. If we’re not going to let our soldiers fight with everything they’ve got, and fight to win, then we shouldn’t be sending them at all. Enough is enough.

Soccer balls, indeed.

• Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach (, a limited-government public policy organization.