Friday, November 18, 2005

With All Due Respect, He's Wrong

Murtha makes a totally emotional plea to bring the troops home. With all due respect for this man's previous service, it does not make him any more knowledgabe or omniscient about the conduct of the war or matters of national security. Frankly, his plea was couched in terms that were repeatedly calls to consider the wounded, that the soldiers are suffering and that their job is done so they should come home.

I'm reminded of Greyhawk at Mudville who says that it's the soldier who wants peace more than others could understand. I am also reminded of Wilfred Owens and Sasoon who wrote poetry after WWI that was about war with little ideas of romance or nobility, except maybe the nobility they imparted the dead in a futile endeavor. Both of those men had signed up as it was their patriotic duty. Wilfred at times was able to separate his duty and his pride as a leader from his disgust at war, but, all the same it was the soldier he always came back to, not the political or security question. He never really thought of that.

I suppose, for most soldiers, that's what it's like in the trenches. But, when you are an elected official, your job is supposed to be able to represent your constituents, all of them, in all facets of government. You're supposed to be able to identify, assess and make decisions on far broader precepts than the pain of war. Now, it's possible that Senator Murtha has thought about all of those other precepts: national security, protection of citizens (even civilians), economics, military and politcal position within the world body. But, we are also the embodiment of all of our experiences and, with all due respect to the Senator, I believe that he is projecting his experiences instead of evaluating the situation and making good decisions on behalf of all of his constituents.

Let me address a few points:

The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us.

There is an illusion and it is largely about the condition of Iraq. Without fooling ourselves, there is an insurgency. It is largely Iraqi, but a small and vicious islamist contingent that is better trained and more capable of pulling of large VBIED and Suicide bombings. There are terrorists or, better yet, proxies from Syria and Iran, but they hardly constitute the type of insurgency saw during Vietnam because these states are no where near the ability of China or Russia to intervene and supply. They are just capable enough of making it painful, not of defeat. The

American people are tired. They've been at war for four years. They only see explosions, counts of American wounded and dead and reports about other killings which are routinely portrayed as part of an insurgency, that is really about gangs, criminals and, yes, sectarian battles. No one really knows the condition of the country. There are vast areas that are totally pacified and attempting to return to "normal". However, it doesn't mean that we can pretend those other areas don't exist. It just means that the condition of the war is not only about on going battles, but those that are complete. Probably the worse thing about this, and the worse thing about Senator Murtha's comment is that it totally ignores any obligation to the Iraqi people.

My question to him is: How many times should we abandon the Iraqis and then expect that they will be friendly towards us?

My question is serious because, when we leave, Zarqawi and his ilk will be setting up base in the Anbar providence and, I, I hope, that Sen. Murtha is not suggesting that we should not pursue this terrorist. What sort of reaction should we expect from our abandoned allies? Cooperation? What sort of government will be in place (if at all) when we leave? We left the Shia to be massacred and now we may leave the entire country to whatever fate, solely so we can pretend we are at peace.

I'm going to go out of order of his comments and address this issue here, since it is germaine to all other arguments:

Our military has been fighting a war in Iraq for over two and a half years. Our military has accomplished its mission and done its duty. Our military captured Saddam Hussein, and captured or killed his closest associates. But the war continues to intensify.

First, the mission of our military was not just to topple Saddam. The point of the mission was to remove the threat posed by Iraq as a state with WMD and a state who had made overt contacts and contracts with terrorist organizations, now the major threat to our national security. Saddam as an opponent or emobidiment of that threat was truly secondary to the threat posed by the terrorist connection, however debated that maybe and however depleted, though not totally destroyed, his WMD program was. Now, the condition of Iraq still constitutes a threat to our security either in the potential for an Iranian dominated Shia government or as a weak government that cannot combat its insurgency and where terrorist organizations currently do, and certainly will, thrive in the condition of anarchy. Either in the entirity of Iraq or in any single or combination of provinces.

Further, it presents a security risk to our allies in the region, more than just a current hotbed for Islamist terrorists that may or may not make it out of Iraq to return to their representative countries, but as a chaotic state where, in fact should we leave, terrorist organizations will set up permanent and uncontested bases of operation to spread their ideology and terrorism to neighboring states. It happens now. The mind boggles at the probability for attacks and Islamist revolutions in neighboring states completely de-stabilizing the area.

Then, not only will we have failed the Iraqi people, but we will have actually failed our allies and all those who seek to live in peace in the middle east. This would pose an incredible "threat" to the United States, the elimination of which was the goal of our mission.

Thus, I must disagree with Senator Murtha that our mission is "accomplished" though I will agree that our military has done and continues to do its duty.

For all other answers, all I've got to say is, "read Mudville. He has answered the question of recruitments, wounded, deployments, attacks and many others for the last two monts (read November and October Archives). Any number can be used and turned to state a conclusion the speaker has already drawn.

An answer from McCain

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