Remember the Alamo--In Downtown Iraq

alamo.jpg (9781 bytes)Imagine what the Alamo must have looked like after the battle. Bodies strewn everywhere; the stench overpowering in the Texas heat. Dogs and vultures chewing on the mangled carcasses (before they were burned). Smashed adobe walls; wreckage and rubble smouldering while scavengers picked through the ruins. Now you have a pretty reliable picture of Fallujah today, an Islamic Alamo in historic, urban Iraq.

The pitiful, lightly armed insurgents hardly had a chance. Some foreign fighters--they were almost all foreign fighters--were from as far as England, Scotland and Germany. They were encircled, outgunned and outnumbered--and just about to become martyrs in the mythical legend that passes for history. Wiped out by overpowering forces, in the opposition to imperial tyranny, they died brave men in the pursuit of self-determination. Today, the once-abandoned mission (left) has become a national shrine, surrounded by the thriving metropolis of San Antonio, Texas.

Is it curious or simply ironic that the mighty fist of American empire is commanded by a Texan? Or that our vast US army is overwhelmingly comprised of willing volunteers of Confederate Yankees--Southerners fighting for the Union's imperial causes, which their forefathers fought vigorously against? The Battle of Vicksburg, like that of Fallujah, comes to mind, but then our history-challenged American troops flying the "Stars and Bars" have little concept of history, following the example of our history-challenged leaders. Is it not curious--or supremely ironic--that the US Marines smashing the City of Mosques, emulate Generalissimo Santa Anna at the Alamo?

Santa Anna won that memorable battle, but the catchphrase "Remember the Alamo" continues to resound today with anyone defending a precarious yet precious position. History has recorded the Mexican victory as a moral loss, almost a war crime. How then might history treat Rumsfeld in the destruction of the City of Mosques?

In all fairness to Santa Anna, the legal claims of the upstart Texans--insurgents, terrorists or patriots, depending on your viewpoint--had less legitimacy to the territory, far less, than the Fallujahans do in Iraq. Most of the Alamo defenders were foreigners, new immigrants to the West. Arguably, the Mexican army had every right to smash the insurgents under the bootheel of superior firepower.

Unlike American claims in Iraq, Santa Anna did not need phony intelligence reports or fake propaganda, or inflammatory sound bites, like those spoken before the battle of Fallujah: "The enemy has got a face. He's called Satan. He lives in Fallujah," said US Marine Lt. Col. Gareth Brandl.

The outnumbered insurgents of the Alamo, lurking behind mud walls, fought fiercely, yet hardly more fiercely than the fighters of Fallujah, outgunned on the ground and in the air by vast and deadly firepower. No Texan had to fear a satellite-guided 2,000 pound bomb descending on him and his family. And yet, in defeat and in death, the courageous defenders of both the Alamo and Fallujah found they'd won an immeasurable victory. Resistance to tyranny lent them instant sainthood, while those who won the battle emerged, rightly or not, as victorious oppressors in the eyes of the rest of the world.

After the battle, the Texans were burned. There were no reported survivors. A massive pyre was constructed about three o'clock in the afternoon, March 6, 1836, and lit about 5 p.m., according to Francisco Antonio Ruiz, who remarked: "The gallantry of the few Texans who defended the Alamo was really wondered at by the Mexican army. Even the generals were astonished at their vigorous resistance, and how dearly victory was bought . . . . The men burnt were one hundred and eighty-two. I was an eyewitness, for as alcalde of San Antonio, I was with some of the neighbors, collecting the dead bodies and placing them on the funeral pyre."

In time, the empire to the south crumbled and fell. Corruption and crooked elections together with wasteful military adventures took their toll. Oppression is a poison that strangles the strongest nation, leaving a sorrowful shell of antiquated grandeur, dead virtues and long-lamented ideals. Something to consider while we crush the defenders in their Middle-Eastern Alamos.

At right, the ruins of Fallujah, from the excellent Lew Rockwell column. Imagine the rage and determination, to oust the occupiers, from the residents who once lived there, and you can picture the force behind Sam Houston's victory long ago in Texas--together with the war cry: "Remember The Alamo!"

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Douglas Herman's picture
Columns on STR: 136

Award winning artist, photographer and freelance journalist, Douglas Herman enjoys exploring the occasional ghost town or spooky conspiracy and can be found wandering the back roads of America. Recently Doug finished writing, directing and producing an independent feature film, naturally a "road movie," and credits STR for giving him the impetus to write well, both provocatively and entertainingly. A longtime gypsy, Doug completed a 10,000 mile circumnavigation of North America, by bicycle, at the age of 35, and still wanders between Bullhead City, Arizona and Kodiak, Alaska with forays frequently into the so-called civilized world of Greater LA.