Re: Tom’s “Finish The Job In Iraq” below
To anyone who may wonder, Tom and I are on the same page about finishing the job in Iraq, especially since, in my view, the war in Iraq and the completion of our objectives there are about much more than Iraq.
I was against the war before it began, for the simple reason that I didn’t think that democracy could be imposed on a country from the outside. I, like most world leaders and intelligence agencies, believed that Saddam Hussien had WMDs, but I didn’t believe that he was stupid enough to use them in such a way as to provoke the U.S. into military action. Whatever Iraq’s ties to or support of terrorist organizations, I didn’t think direct military action was the answer. Lest anyone think I was some kind of dove, I had no problem at all with the idea of covert military operations. Hey, terrorists: you want to fight dirty? Fine. We’ll show you dirty.
However, the moment the U.S. military engaged Iraq, my war opposition ended, for the very simple reason that to continue to oppose the war while our troops were fighting it would only hurt our military. The objective was stated: a) depose Saddam and b) provide whatever assistance was needed to enable Iraq to establish itself as a constitutional republic. A) was achieved rather easily, as the scale of world military strength resembles Olympic softball: there’s a huge gulf separating the U.S. from everyone else. B) got bogged down for a number of reasons. How America would react became a test of a president, a military, and a nation.
There were loud and repeated calls, from primarily the left but also the right, to abandon Iraq. The most offensive of these calls, in my view, came from those who claimed that they were doing so out of love and concern for our soldiers. Not only did I not really believe them, but I thought that it showed a profound misunderstanding of the military personnel mindset. As I understand it, to a military man (or woman), the most important thing – even more important than preserving your own life - is to do your duty and accomplish your mission. Casualties, both dead and wounded, will occur; however, if the mission is accomplished, the soldier feels he can rest at peace, and that whatever sacrifice was made was worth it. From that standpoint, to leave Iraq before the mission was accomplished – which would constitute failure to accomplish that mission – would be devastating to the U.S. military. The lives lost and sacrifices made would have been for nothing. Not to mention the devastation it would cause to the Iraqi people. For both these reasons, I felt it was the moral obligation of the U.S. to stay in Iraq until the mission was accomplished.
To President Bush’s credit, he stuck to his commitment to Iraq, but he also was willing to alter strategy and shake up the military’s leadership to turn the tide of the war in our favor. For the life of me, I cannot fathom why General David Patraeus was not named Time magazine's "Man of the Year" for 2007, given what his leadership and expertise in counter-insurgency enabled the U.S. military to do, which was to kick Al Queda’s rear end all over Iraq. As I detailed 10 days ago:
…Al Queda has been completely routed in Iraq, it's safer to walk the streets of former Al Queda strongholds like Mosul in than it is in Washington DC or East St. Louis, the Iraqi government have achieved 15 of 18 objectives required to establish a stable constitutional republic…
The key, I believe, to understanding what Bush and the military were and are trying to accomplish in Iraq is this: The U.S. is at war with Al Queda. I'll say it again, since these bolded words should be remembered by Americans even after we have achieved success in Iraq: The U.S. is at war with Al Queda. In that context, what our military and leaders are close to accomplishing in Iraq is of huge strategic value:
• The U.S. will have played a primary role in establishing a constitutional republic – and an ally – in Al Queda’s backyard.
• In order to prevent this, Al Queda entered Iraq and took over many towns. Life under the rule of these folks was rather unbearable – they forbid such things as ice (since Mohammed never had any) and wedding dresses – and public opinion turned away from them towards the Americans: we may be a bunch of infidels, but we weren’t a bunch of idiots.
• The U.S. military’s presence in Iraq lured Al Queda into the types of engagements it is least adept at fighting. Blowing up buses of civilians? Al Queda's awesome! Battles against well-equipped and well-trained soldiers? Um, not so much.
• The losses suffered by Al Queda were threefold: the loss of men and material, the morale loss by getting clobbered on the battlefield, and the loss of Iraqi citizen support.
All in all, the accomplishing of our mission in Iraq is a stunning rebuke to the “strong horse vs. weak horse” we-will-win analogy made by Osama Bin Laden a few years ago. Who’s the strong horse now, punk? Oh, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t expect an answer, as you and your dwindling number of acolytes are having to set up shop deep in a cave somewhere. Good luck with that whole “destroying America” thing. Let me know how it turns out.