Friday, November 18, 2005

Murtha is DEAD WRONG

Pennsylvania House member John Murtha, a moderate Democrat [50-ish on the ADA ranking], 'defense hawk' and generally respected on military matters, gave an emotional press conference yesterday calling for an immediate withdrawal of US troops in Iraq. Murtha is getting a lot of press as he was a former Marine drill instructor and a highly decorated Vietnam Veteran. Here's the gist:

I believe with the U.S. troop redeployment the Iraqi security forces will be incentivized to take control. A poll recently conducted -- this is a British poll reported in The Washington Times -- over 80 percent of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition forces, and about 45 percent of 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. The United States will immediately redeploy -- immediately redeploy. No schedule which can be changed, nothing that's controlled by the Iraqis, this is an immediate redeployment of our American forces because they have become the target.

Murtha, who cares about American soldiers and shares the pain of the families of the maimed and wounded at Walter Reed and Bethesda and is decent and well meaning, is also DEAD WRONG. His thesis is that the military's stated job is done and to prevent more casualties we must pull out. Certainly pulling out the troops will mean we will sustain fewer losses but its also EXACTLY what the terrorists want. [I would also note that his reliance on a British poll that 80% of Iraqis don't want us there is probably ill-advised. Whose poll? and where? Sunni triangle perhaps?] Iraqi forces may well be sufficiently strong to allow a significant drawdown of US troops in a year's time but they are not ready to shoulder the burden alone yet.

Well-known Iraqi bloggers Iraq the model disagree with Murtha:

It is really strange when a US representative says something like this few weeks after the elected Iraqi government demanded from the UN to extend the mission of coalition forces for another year; apparently my government (and I) do not think that US military presence is harmful for us and the Arab League also thinks that an immediate withdrawal would be disastrous for Iraq and the region.
However, I agree with Mr. Murtha that some people in Iraq would benefit from an immediate withdrawal but that would be al-Qaeda and there are also countries in the region that would benefit from that too but these would be Syria and Iran!

The reason for the invasion of Iraq was always twofold, WMD which everyone thought Saddam had AND regime change. Specifically to dismantle a brutal and dangerous despotic regime and germinate in its place a democracy that if successful would change the face of the Middle East for a long time.

Two thousand American soldiers have died for this. To withdraw now and leave Iraq at best a weak, divided state and potentially portend a return of the Baathists to the Sunni areas would be to WASTE their sacrifice.

By the way this was a cheap shot against VP Cheney and Murtha should have been above this:

Q The president and the vice president are both saying it is now irresponsible for Democrats to criticize the war and to criticize the intelligence going into the war because everybody was looking at the same intelligence.

REP. MURTHA: I like guys who've never been there to criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there, and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what need(s) to be done. I resent the fact on Veterans Day he criticized Democrats for criticizing them.

And for the "Bush Lied, People Died" crowd:

The military drew a line -- a red line around Baghdad, and they said when U.S. forces cross that line, they will be attacked by the Iraqis with weapons of mass destruction. And I believed it, and they believed it. But the U.S. forces -- the commander said, they were prepared. They said they had well-trained forces with the appropriate protective gear.

Finally this strikes me as being a bit unseemly:

Q: Senators Warner and Stevens just talked with reporters on the other side of the Capitol, and they said that they had yet to meet a single soldier in Iraq or at the hospitals here who thought it was time to pull out of Iraq --

REP. MURTHA: Is that right?

REP. MURTHA: What do you think they're going to tell you? We're here to talk for them. We're here to measure the success. The soldiers aren't going to tell you that. I told you what the soldiers say. They're proud of their service. They're looking at their friends.

Murtha, of all people, should know from his Vietnam experience that that war could have been won on the battlefield but was lost at home - Vo Nguyen Giap told us that. Does he want to see al-Zarqawi tell us the same thing in ten years time?

Where one stood on going to war should not impact how one stands on Iraqi nation building. A serious case cannot be made that there is a better alternative to the US and the current coalition staying and finishing the job. Rebuilding Iraq has been and will continue to be expensive in terms of blood and treasure. The alternative is much worse.

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