Saturday, January 07, 2006

John Murtha

Lex pointed me to this latest item about John Murtha. :
Appearing at a town meeting in Arlington, Virginia, with fellow Democratic Rep. James Moran, Murtha said, "A year ago, I said we can't win this militarily, and I got all kinds of criticism." Now, Murtha told the strongly antiwar audience, "I worry about a slow withdrawal which makes it look like there's a victory when I think it should be a redeployment as quickly as possible and let the Iraqis handle the whole thing."

Many people have gone on to excorciate the Congressman. The Useless woman (there Bob, you happy now?) took him to task and pointed out an interesting sidebar where a Soldier took on the Conrgessman saying he had his facts wrong:
Like yourself I dropped out of college two years ago to volunteer to go to Afghanistan, and I went and I came back. If I didn't have a herniated disk now I would volunteer to go to Iraq in a second with my troops, three of which have already volunteered to go to Iraq. I keep hearing you say how you talk to the troops and the troops are demoralized, and I really resent that characterization. (applause) The morale of the troops that I talk to is phenomenal, which is why my troops are volunteering to go back, despite the hardships they had to endure in Afghanistan. And Congressman Moran, 200 of your constituents just returned from Afghanistan. We never got a letter from you; we never got a visit from you. You didn't come to our homecoming. The only thing we got from any of our elected officials was one letter from the governor of this state thanking us for our service in Iraq, when we were in Afghanistan. That's reprehensible. I don't know who you two are talking to but the morale of the troops is very high .

This came after Murtha was criticized by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Murtha's views had drawn sharp criticism earlier in the day from Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Pace said in a briefing that Murtha had sent the "wrong message" and that the lawmaker's comments Monday that he would not enlist as a soldier today would damage recruiting.
Now regarding the second statement, I doubt that anything John Murtha says will have an affect on recruiting one way or another. The Iraq war is out there and folks either support it or they don't. Besides my take on what motivates folks is that the reason folks go into the service are generally more personal: a desire to better one's self, learn a skill (like flying), prove to themselves that they can do the job, earn the respect of their fellows. They realize that will possibly put them into harm's way. However they have judged that risk to be worth the trade in terms of the things they get back from the experience.

It's too easy however, to hold John Murtha up as a left wing pinyata and bash him with conservative sticks. There has to be more to this decision to speak out. At least I sure hope there is. People need to read what he actually has said.

The cynic in me believes that Murtha's stand is part of a not so clever political strategy. Someone somewhere knew that John Murtha had misgivings about the war. The also knew that he is fairly well connected with the military and has generally been supportive of the military:

Judging from his history and close relationships at the Pentagon, Murtha probably was echoing a belief that runs deep within the ranks of senior officers. "He's someone who's a strong supporter of the military," said Jack Reed (D-R.I.), a West Point graduate and one of his party's leading Senate spokesmen on the military. "People will recognize that he's got
their best interests at heart."

Lets walk this dog all the way. By having Murtha speak out, because he has a safe seat and some good credentials, and no higher ambitions, it allows him to say those things that others may feel without going on the record themselves. He gets to be the lightning rod who spoke the unspeakable, namely that while getting rid of Saddam was a good thing, on the whole this little mis adventure was not in the best interests of the United States.

That's an idea that needs to be debated and discussed, and not simply whitewashed into a box because it is somehow unpatriotic to criticize national policy. I applaud Rep Murtha for getting this out there. And to tell you the truth, I find myself agree with him. Its time for the Iraqis to sink or swim and we need to get moving on. Either that or we need to get more fully engaged as a nation and resource the military properly and put the nation on more of a wartime footing. At its heart that is his real point. The current detachment of the GWOT effort from the overall public just will not do. Neither will trying to do this "on the cheap" while "transforming" the Department of Defense. Do it right, Secretary McNamara Rumsfeld, or don't do it all.

Murtha needs to be careful though. To be effective, he has to stay on the high ground. That's why getting his name linked to groups like Move and other left wing nut groups do nothing to help his efforts. The mass that needs to be convinced is the large group in the center, like me, who don't think there is any easy answer to this really big problem. To agree with Murtha is to tacitly give in to a reprehensible and unspeakable sentiment: "I don't care about the people of Iraq. I could care less if they get a democracy, because I am concerned about what is good for Americans first and foremost. Take your stupid Islam, Shia or Sunni, and stick it up your........".

There! I said it! Even though I am not supposed to. And fundamentally it is an irrational and quite possibly a racist sentiment. So I, of course, being conditioned to want to care, have to do my best to reign it in. " I care about the people of Iraq. They need more time to get their act together. We've come to far and suffered too much, to ruin it all now by a hasty and ill considered pull out. After all, the President told me 'Victory is right around the corner'....". Keep repeating and hoping you can really believe it. Maybe if I say it enough it might actually come true.

Or it might just convince me once and for all, that William Fulbright was right and that the United States should remember his words:

Many Senators who accepted the Gulf of Tonkin resolutionwithout question might well not have done so had they foreseen that it would subsequently be interpreted as a sweeping Congressional endorsement for the conduct of a large-scale war in Asia......

Commenting on American Policy:

Throughout our history two strands have coexisted uneasily; a dominant strand of democratic humanism and a lesser but durable strand of intolerant Puritanism. There has been a tendency through the years for reason and moderation to prevail as long as things are going tolerably well or as long as our problems seem clear and finite and manageable. But... when some event or leader of opinion has aroused the people to a state of high emotion, our puritan spirit has tended to break through, leading us to look at the world through the distorting prism of a harsh and angry moralism.........

Power tends to confuse itself with virtue and a great nation is particularly susceptible to the idea that its power
is a sign of God's favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other nations — to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image. Power confuses itself with virtue and tends also to take itself for omnipotence. Once imbued with the idea of a mission, a great nation easily assumes that it has the means as well as the duty to do God's work.....

Law is the essential foundation of stability and order both within societies and in international relations. As a conservative power, the United States has a vital interest in upholding and expanding the reign of law in international relations. Insofar as international law is observed, it provides us with stability and order and with a means of predicting the behavior of those with whom we have reciprocal legal obligations. When we violate the law ourselves, whatever short-term advantage may be gained, we are obviously encouraging others to violate the law; we thus encourage disorder and instability and thereby do incalculable damage to our own long-term interests.

Applicable to 1966 or 2006? Or both?

Go John Murtha! But be smart about what you are doing. This is too important to goon up with wacko Democratic politics.


<< Home

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