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May 21, 2004

The Charge of the Coalition Forces


by Thomas Gale Moore

Adapted, with apologies to Alfred Lord Tennyson

Half a mile, half a mile,
Half a mile onward,
All in the desert of Death
Rode the 200 thousand.
'Forward, the Coalition Forces!
Charge for the guns!' he said:
Into the desert of Death
Rode the 200 thousand.

'Forward, the Coalition Forces!'
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldiers knew
Some one had blundered:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the desert of Death
Rode the 200 thousand.

Mortar to right of them,
Mortar to left of them,
Mortar in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with bomb and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the Coalition Forces.

Flash'd all their M1s bare,
Flash'd as they burn'd the air
Savaging the natives there,
Charging an uprising, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the humvee-smoke
Right thro' the doors they broke;
Shiite and Sunni
Reel'd from the chopper-guns
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the 200 thousand.

Mortar to right of them,
Mortar to left of them,
Mortar behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with bomb and shell,
While tank and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of 200 thousand.

When can the carnage fade?
O the many deaths they made!
All the world wonder'd.
Dishonor the war they made!
Dishonor the decisions made,
Honor the 200 thousand.

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Thomas Gale Moore is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in economics and has taught at Carnegie Institution of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University), Michigan State University, UCLA, and in the Stanford Business School. He has written numerous peer-reviewed economic articles and several books.

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