It is one of those days when yet another member of the Iraq Veterans Against the Word blithely goes about the business of defaming our country and possibly getting some of our troops killed!
Before I take on IVAW member Harvey Tharp, something in a similar vein but more entertaining. No one I know can make me laugh as much while he eviscerates someone as Thus Spake Ortner (TSO), who does so here and here at The Sniper to the well deserving Matt Howard of IVAW.
An interview with Harvey Tharp was published yesterday in the Yemen Times. For any Democrats or geographically challenged out there, Yemen sits along the southern Saudi Arabian border. It can reasonably be described as a Middle Eastern Arab Moslem country.
Here is the lede:
"An ex-American Navy Lieutenant: “It is just a matter of time before the American people get sick of this war and force a pull out.” - Yemen Times"
Tharpe is a military lawyer, and the military financed his education. He was also somewhat proficient in Arabic, and as such was deployed to Kirkuk from October 2003 to March 2004. He was assigned to a diplomatic team handling reconstruction.
Tharp tells the interviewer:
"In April 2004...it...became clear that there were no weapons of mass destruction and that this hadn’t been an honest mistake, it had all been lies."
Tharp is saying this in Yemen. The intelligence service and leaders of Yemen were among those many in the world, some even beyond the reach of Karl Rove's mind control ray, who also believed Saddam Hussein had WMDs before the 2003 invasion! Such easy to find facts of course wouldn't trouble someone as intelligent as Harvey Tharp, who has memorized the entire Code Pink Manual with forward by Michael Moore! The President of Yemen from before the 2003 invasion and continuing today is Ali Abdullah Selah.
From the Christian Science Monitor:
"When the president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had close ties with Hussein, told Vice President Cheney that Hussein did not want war but would use chemical weapons if attacked, Mr. Cheney did not blink. The Americans, said Cheney, would deal with them."
As an aside, the President of Yemen was not the only person stating such a warning. Well before he became the first crooner of the Bush-lied chorus, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, husband of super-duper-top-secret-master-spy Valerie Plame, wrote an Op-Ed for the LA Times on the eve (Feb 6, 2003) of the invasion of Iraq. Entitled A "Big Cat" with Nothing to Lose, Wilson warned that:
"There is now no incentive for Hussein to comply with the inspectors or to refrain from using weapons of mass destruction to defend himself if the United States comes after him.
And he will use them; we should be under no illusion about that."
Tharp goes on to tell the interviewer of his time in Iraq:
"...although I had to display considerable physical courage to drive around the city in a conspicuous vehicle with no radio in a very dangerous situation, I wasn’t a combatant."
This is not the first time I have come across Tharp still seeming very upset that he was driving around Kirkuk in such unguarded fashion as well as commending his own bravery. I do not doubt for a moment that there was risk involved in that, but Kirkuk was in the heavily Kurdish north, crawling at the time with our allied Kurdish Peshmerga. It was not one of Iraq's hotspots. Tharp has never written that I have seen that he ever came under any kind of fire. When asked why he came to live for a time in Yemen, Tharp replied:
"Due to my time in Iraq, I developed post-traumatic stress disorder, so I’m unable to work and I have some spare time."
Alright! Yes, I know PTSD is real. Yes, I know that one does not have to be involved in combat to be exposed to conditions that can cause PTSD. As Mackubin T. Owens wrote of the 1988 Center for Disease Control study of PTSD and Vietnam veterans that found that:
"...15 % of Vietnam veterans experienced some symptoms of combat-related PTSD at some time during or after military service, but that only 2.2 % exhibited symptoms at the time of the study."
And as CBS reported on another study in 2007 by Columbia University:
"Whatever the actual numbers, the researchers said it is clear that the more combat exposure for a veteran, the greater the likelihood of the disorder."
It is four years since Tharp completed his six month tour in Iraq, and he cannot hold a job! My sympathy juices are simply not flowing. There is a man who works at my aerospace company. Other than the occasional "Hi" or "How ya doin'?, we've never talked. We work in different buildings with mostly different people. He is, I would guess, about fifty. Two years ago, when he and his Reserve unit returned from a tour in Iraq, the company held a small ceremony welcoming him back. He was a senior NCO in an engineering unit, maintaining vehicles, and he spoke a bit. His unit had taken frequent rocket and mortar fire, but never engaged in combat. He described what they did as very up-tempo. They tried to keep vehicles in good order and turn around the ones that were damaged, because they knew the lives of the "youngsters" in the fight depended upon them. Sometimes the vehicles came in with damage and sometimes with lots of blood they'd have to clean out. He said that was hard. He thanked everyone for their thoughts, prayers and packages, and then thanked God for granting his prayer that he brought back all of his crew.
He came back from Iraq, spent ten days with his family, and was back at work! The military did not, as they did for Harvey Tharp, put him through law school.
Harvey Tharp was asked what he was going to do when he returned to the U.S. He repiled:
"I’m a member of the Iraq Veterans Against the War. As the only officer who has joined, I’m the highest ranked...I’m going to Washington, D.C. for the winter soldier hearings from March 13-16. Fifty members from the Iraq Veterans Against the War will testify to war crimes they witnessed or even participated in and I’ll be there in support."
Either Harvey Tharp did not get the memo that that is not what Winter Soldier is supposed to be all about (but interestingly he has the more recent "fifty" number, and not the old "over one hundred!), or it's just okay to talk like that to a paper in the Arab Moslem Middle East!
Harvey was asked if he had witnessed any of these war crimes, and gave the standard IVAW reply:
"No, I didn’t personally witness any, but I came to know about certain cases."
Harvey put some moral equivalence perspective into things when he was asked if there were any Yemeni foreign fighters in Iraq:
"I didn’t have any experience of that, but I know Yemenis were among the foreign fighters, although most were Saudis. They were really so-called foreign fighters, but as Americans, so were we!"
Asked if the U.S. has lost the war:
"As far as the U.S. government’s aim to control oil in the Middle East more, it’s been a failure. Once the U.S. military leaves Iraq, the Iraqi government will collapse because it has no legitimacy – and that’s why we’ve lost the war."
Millions of Iraqis risked Al Qaeda "takfirist" reprisal to vote for their government, and Harvey Tharp of IVAW declares the fruits of their risks illegitimate!
Yemen has an Al Qaeda problem. Maybe Harvey Tharp was just trying to help with recruiting. Or just maybe it's the self-obcessed hubris of the morally superior:
"I was able to see the full humanity of Iraqis in a way that we as Americans simply fail to recognize in foreigners generally..."
If Harvey Tharp testifies or takes questions, asking a former Navy JAG about the UCMJ crime reporting requirements could be enlightening.