A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Some Food For Thought

For any of you who might be inclined to get on the Murtha bandwagon. We have lost just over 2,000 service men and women in Iraq, and each and every one of those dead soldiers is a tragedy and a dreadful loss for their loved ones and friends.


Whatever your thoughts on whether Bush lied to get us there or whether it was a legitimate effort to preserve American security and interests, we are there. Unringing that bell is not an option. If we pull out immediately, abruptly, or on a pre-ordained timetable, does anyone seriously think the terrorists (aka, the insurgents) that are currently blowing up innocent Iraqis will suddenly stop? That they won't try to take "vengeance" on the brave Iraqis who have aided the U.S. and who wish to take control, and keep control, of their country from the thugs and beasts that ran it under Saddam?

I'm trying to think of the worst possible thing we could do to Iraq at this juncture in history. Short of nuking it, abandoning it to the gentle mercies of the remaining Baathists and al Qaeda mercenaries seems to be about top of the list. We will abandon the country to chaos, we will convince our enemies that we will blink and back down if only they make the cost sufficiently high, we will alienate each and every truly moderate or reform minded Arab and/or Muslim in the Middle East and around the world, and we will be stating clearly and unequivacally that we wasted the sacrifice of each of those 2000+ brave souls.

What a horrendous idea. Coming from a man who understands, and in theory fully supports, the Marine motto of Semper Fi-- always faithful-- what a nearly blasphemous idea. Imagine if Lincoln had decided to surrender after losing 23,000 men at Gettysburg-- one battle! Imagine if FDR, in the midst of a re-election campaign in 1944, had decided the cost of lives at Normandy, roughly 200,000 injured or killed, was too high and withdrew U.S. support from the Allied cause in Europe.

Some things are worth fighting and dying for, and backing down from a fight with a bully after you start is just about the worst thing you can possibly do. I know, easy for me to say safely esconced in front of my computer thousands of miles from the battle field, but it's still true. The service men and women of our country get that.

I wish more of our politicians did.

Have a great Thanksgiving, Nick! With this article, you've already identified several things to give thanks for.

John Heeder
On 9 November 1993, Murtha made arguments on the floor of the House for our withdrawal from Somalia that are quite similar to the arguments that he is presenting in this current debate. While one could quite possibly understand his vote for our withdrawal from Somalia (he had, after all, been against our deployment there from the start), one would also hope that he would have learned from what has transpired over the nearly twelve years since we pulled out.

Two other items in the Congressional Record from the November 1993 floor debate over the withdrawal of our troops caught my eye. The first was a news release from the American Red Cross entitled "Somalia Fact Sheet: 1 Year Later" (Page H9055). The second was the statement made by Rep. Gejdenson of Connecticut (Pages H9059-H9060).

The news release's summary paragraph was, "Somalia is emerging from two years of vicious and debilitating civil war and anarchy. The good news is that throughout the countryside, people are returning home to rebuild their lives. The current harvest is a good one. The violence we have seen is, at this point, confined to Mogadishu. However, there is no government and essential life-support structures have broken down completely. The road to recovery will be long and difficult."

Somalia was improving, and we pulled out and left it to others. The country might be in better shape now (and less of a threat now) if we had stayed on and assisted the Somalis in establishing a government and essential infrastructure then.

The words spoken by Rep. Gejdenson during that debate could easily be applied to our situation today. He said, "There are moments when a country is tested as it enters a new era. And as we have, as a Nation, following World War II and Vietnam, tried to assess America's commitment to international diplomacy and international participation, this vote tonight and support for the Hamilton amendment may determine the ability of not just this President but future Presidents to marshall international efforts that have far-reaching consequences.

"If you take a look at America's withdrawal from Somalia prior to the President's date of March 31, we could find America undercutting our involvement in all multilateral activities in the Middle East, in peacekeeping efforts there, not just in Africa, in Central America, in Asia, in every continent, as America tries to move from a single power placing its policies on the globe, to multilateral actions with multinational forces, today's actions will cripple not just this President but future Presidents as well.

"What we do here today will send a signal: `If you want to end a multilateral activity, shoot at Americans, because the Congress will pull the rug out from under the President in a matter of days.' The debate here is not whether or not we stay in Somalia; the President has committed, and we, in law, have committed ourselves, to the removal of these troops by March 31.

"What advantage to America's policy, to America's interest and to the lives that have already been lost to remove our troops 60 days earlier? Will there be an international effort where America will have credibility? ...

"There are risks in every action. There are risks if we stay, but there are clear risks if we remove our troops prior to the date the President is committed to. ...

"Those who want to bring death and destruction back to Somalia simply need to wait until the 31st. ...

"We have taken some casualties. There has clearly been a tragedy inflicted on American service personnel there.

"But how do we serve those men who died under the American forces, how do we serve this country by taking away from the President of the United States 60 days of negotiations? How will this President or any future President convince our European and Asian allies to join with us if America's Congress pulls out from the President a matter of 60 days of additional negotiations time?"

Bin Laden has called the U.S. a "paper tiger." Zarqawi said that "Americans ... are the biggest cowards that God has created and the easiest target." Zawahiri stated that "the collapse of American power in Vietnam - and how they ran and left their agents - is noteworthy."

Our enemy does not see these resolutions as noble, but instead as cowardly and weak. Running from the conflict, because it is difficult, because it is more drawn-out than hoped for, or because it has produced casualties, only confirms that image of weakness in the eyes of our enemy. This perception is what drives our enemies to take their best shot at us; because if they can hit us hard a few times, why wouldn't we retreat and become isolationists yet again.

The danger of what we have seen to-date is that, while we may not want a war with our enemy, they want a war with us; and that enemy is aching to bring that war to us if we don't bring it to them.

I do not question Murtha's patriotism, and I am grateful for his service in our Corps. I do, however, question his ability to learn from history. I also question whether he is truly motivated by his concern for America and those wearing the uniform, or if his motivation is actually more of a personal attempt to expel the ghosts of the failures of a conflict which ended three decades ago.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?