Saturday, November 19, 2005

Sometimes it Takes a Hawk

I am sure you have all by now seen reports of Congressman John Murtha's press conference calling for the U.S. to get out of Iraq . I was so overjoyed to finally hear someone in government say what he said that I looked up the entire statement -- it is only one page in length -- and am pasting it below. Too bad we are not hearing this kind of call from John Kerry or Hillary Clinton.

And you have to love Murtha's riposte to Darth Vader Cheney (the "Vice-President of Torture" according to ex-CIA chief Stansfield Turner), who criticized Murtha's statement:

"I like guys who've never been there who criticize us who've been there," Murtha said. "I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and sent people to war and then don't like to hear suggestions that what may need to be done."

Until now I did not know much about Murtha, other than that he was generally considered a full-on Democratic hawk, but I think I like the guy. He is a tough ex-Marine who lists his profession on his Congressional website as "Car Wash Proprietor" (the Johnstown Minute Car Wash).

Speaking of the Vice-President, did you see the recent Daily Show with Jon Stewart on CNN? Senator John McCain was the guest. Stewart"s opening question to McCain was, "Senator McCain is Vice-President Cheney insane?" McCain almost lost consciousness.


For Immediate Release
November 17, 2005

The Honorable John P. Murtha
War in Iraq

(Washington D.C.)- 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. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We can not continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.

General Casey said in a September 2005 Hearing, “the perception of occupation in Iraq is a major driving force behind the insurgency.” General Abizaid said on the same date, “Reducing the size and visibility of the coalition forces in Iraq is a part of our counterinsurgency strategy.”

For 2 ½ years I have been concerned about the U.S. policy and the plan in Iraq. I have addressed my concerns with the Administration and the Pentagon and have spoken out in public about my concerns. The main reason for going to war has been discredited. A few days before the start of the war I was in Kuwait – the military drew a red line around Baghdad and said when U.S. forces cross that line they will be attacked by the Iraqis with Weapons of Mass Destruction – but the US forces said they were prepared. They had well trained forces with the appropriate protective gear.

We spend more money on Intelligence than all the countries in the world together, and more on Intelligence than most countries GDP. But the intelligence concerning Iraq was wrong. It is not a world intelligence failure. It is a U.S. intelligence failure and the way that intelligence was misused.

I have been visiting our wounded troops at Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals almost every week since the beginning of the War. And what demoralizes them is going to war with not enough troops and equipment to make the transition to peace; the devastation caused by IEDs; being deployed to Iraq when their homes have been ravaged by hurricanes; being on their second or third deployment and leaving their families behind without a network of support.

The threat posed by terrorism is real, but we have other threats that cannot be ignored. We must be prepared to face all threats. The future of our military is at risk. Our military and their families are stretched thin. Many say that the Army is broken. Some of our troops are on their third deployment. Recruitment is down, even as our military has lowered its standards. Defense budgets are being cut. Personnel costs are skyrocketing, particularly in health care. Choices will have to be made. We can not allow promises we have made to our military families in terms of service benefits, in terms of their health care, to be negotiated away. Procurement programs that ensure our military dominance cannot be negotiated away. We must be prepared. The war in Iraq has caused huge shortfalls at our bases in the U.S.
Much of our ground equipment is worn out and in need of either serious overhaul or replacement. George Washington said, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” We must rebuild our Army. Our deficit is growing out of control. The Director of the Congressional Budget Office recently admitted to being “terrified” about the budget deficit in the coming decades. This is the first prolonged war we have fought with three years of tax cuts, without full mobilization of American industry and without a draft. The burden of this war has not been shared equally; the military and their families are shouldering this burden.

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. Deaths and injuries are growing, with over 2,079 confirmed American deaths. Over 15,500 have been seriously injured and it is estimated that over 50,000 will suffer from battle fatigue. There have been reports of at least 30,000 Iraqi civilian deaths.

I just recently visited Anbar Province Iraq in order to assess the conditions on the ground. Last May 2005, as part of the Emergency Supplemental Spending Bill, the House included the Moran Amendment, which was accepted in Conference, and which required the Secretary of Defense to submit quarterly reports to Congress in order to more accurately measure stability and security in Iraq. We have now received two reports. I am disturbed by the findings in key indicator areas. Oil production and energy production are below pre-war levels. Our reconstruction efforts have been crippled by the security situation. Only $9 billion of the $18 billion appropriated for reconstruction has been spent. Unemployment remains at about 60 percent. Clean water is scarce. Only $500 million of the $2.2 billion appropriated for water projects has been spent. And most importantly, insurgent incidents have increased from about 150 per week to over 700 in the last year. Instead of attacks going down over time and with the addition of more troops, attacks have grown dramatically. Since the revelations at Abu Ghraib, American casualties have doubled. An annual State Department report in 2004 indicated a sharp increase in global terrorism.

I said over a year ago, and now the military and the Administration agrees, Iraq can not be won “militarily.” I said two years ago, the key to progress in Iraq is to Iraqitize, Internationalize and Energize. I believe the same today. But I have concluded that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is impeding this progress.

Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. U.S. troops are the common enemy of the Sunnis, Saddamists and foreign jihadists. I believe with a U.S. troop redeployment, the Iraqi security forces will be incentivized to take control. A poll recently conducted shows that over 80% of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops, and about 45% of the Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops are justified. I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis.
I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy. All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free. Free from United States occupation. I believe this will send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process for the good of a “free” Iraq.

My plan calls:

To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.
To create a quick reaction force in the region.
To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.
To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq

This war needs to be personalized. As I said before I have visited with the severely wounded of this war. They are suffering.

Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our OBLIGATION to speak out for them. That’s why I am speaking out.

Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Ed,

Nice blog, covers a lot of disparate ground, really quite interesting.

So far as Murtha, I admire him, but not unduly. The entire debate about Iraq seems to suffer from severe reality-dislocation. Murtha says, paraphrasing, "We accomplished what we set out to do--deposed Saddam, captured or killed his cohorts. Job well done, job finished."

Oh, really? I am not aware that our "job" in Iraq was ever well-defined. Even now we bandy words around like "success."

One is tempted to give up on all the standard and very hazy ideas about success in Iraq--that we will, for instance, help them constitute a stable democracy, and then, at last, graciously, stand aside.

In the face of the relentless sectarian violence, one is tempted to wonder, "How in the world did Saddam ever make it work?"

The answer to that is not palatable to us. He used the Iron Fist.

So we are in quite a moral dilemma. We have unleashed the demon of sectarian violence. Are we willing to resort to Saddam's methods to quell that sectarian violence? If so, if we are willing to use the Iron Fist, if we say to ourselves, "Well, our ideals are really good--democracy, and all that--but the reality is that by hook or by crook we now aim *only* at reducing the number of daily casualties from the current '100 per day' to the '1 per day' Iraq enjoyed under Saddam," well, then it's time for military governorships in every province in Iraq, and it may well be time to reconstitute the Sunnis as the one and only governmental force in Iraq. They may be the only ones ready to bring the Iron Fist down hard enough and long enough to quell the violence.

In other words, Saddam was right. He told the world, "If you want to stop the violence, put me back in power." But we not only allowed, we encouraged, the Shiites to execute him.

The blood lust is upon them. If we leave now, pull out our troops, Iraq will soon dissolve into provinces governed by ruthless warlords. Other countries, like Iran and Saudi Arabia, will forward their conflicting interests, supporting this or that warlord. It will be the Iron Fist all over again, but the bloodletting will not soon stop. Saddam's Iron Fist will seem like a velvet glove by comparison.

Were Shiite pilgrims ever attacked by suicide bombers, under Saddam? Were renowned Shiite mosques ever blown to smithereens, under Saddam?

No. No.

Did he kill thousands of his own people? Yes.

Did he use a secret police to torture and imprison hundreds, or thousands, of people? Yes.

Are Americans prepared to use the methods of Saddam to put the demon of sectarian violence back into its bottle?

No. We unleashed the demon, but we will not do what it takes to bring it under control.

So we are in an insoluble dilemma of our own making.

Is there nothing we can do, then?

One can't help but think there is a shred of a chance for our so-called "surge" to succeed. But what, exactly, is success?

Naturally, the realists mumble something about lowering our expectations.

But let's spell it out. I say, a Shiite-ruled Iraq is a recipe for ongoing disaster.

We will have to insist upon a government which enfranchises the Sunnis, and the Kurds, giving each group some meaningful autonomy and oil revenues. We will in effect guide Iraq into a condition which will resemble my conjectured future, above, of its dissolution into warlord-led nation-statelets. I cannot imagine any international force whatsover which will be able to assume the burden of keeping the peace between these factions. The factions will inevitably ally themselves with other nations, such as Saudi Arabia (the Sunnis) and Iran (the Shiites).

This too is a disaster. Hmm. I can't say I've hit upon a viable "solution." In fact, no matter which scenario I imagine, in each and every one, we will look back, and Iraqis will look back, on Saddam, and say, "Those were the good old days."

So how is Murtha so admirable, for, after all, he too seems in the Washington lock-step of imagining we did the Iraqis some giant favor, by deposing Saddam?

The Democrats are as bad or worse than the Republicans. At least the Republicans speak their misguided minds. The Democrats won't dare utter a word until they check the polls. If they ever do speak their mind, they rush to apologize. Obama said the lives of our 3,000+ killed in Iraq were "wasted." Which is what he himself believed; or there was at least a locus of honesty in his statement. But, his eyes on the polls, he was quick to retract the politically-dangerous statement.

No, the Democrats lined up like sheep to sign on to the resolution approving Bush's invasion of Iraq. The scope of their idiocy is so great that they cannot even see it. They are poll-mongering sheep who flock beneath the banner of the politically correct.

So. just a few remarks. Great blog, though.

Russell Towle