OF MICE AND CONGRESSMEN
-Abraham Lincoln never said this. But it does sound like him.
In 1974, John Murtha became the first Vietnam combat veteran elected to Congress, representing Pennsylvania's twelfth district. 31 years later, he has blazed another trail as the first Congressional combat veteran to openly advocate the policy of preemptive surrender and retreat as a clear and present direction for the nation.
Rep. Murtha recently introduced a sham proposal calling for the immediate redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq over a six-month period following the December parliamentary elections. It was an obvious cheap political stunt, one to better hammer the administration with, and designed to get Beltway moderates on board and on record as opposing the continued U.S. presence in Iraq. House Republicans, to their credit, called the bluff for what it was, immediately issuing forth a one-paragraph resolution of their own calling for immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. It was rejected 403-3, including a "nay" from original sponsor Murtha, and forcing him into the same buffoonish position as fellow Capitol Hill grandstander Sen. Charlie Rangel (D, NY), who wisely voted against his own less-than-serious proposal some months ago to reinstate the military draft.
The "Honorable" John P. Murtha describes the war as “a flawed policy wrapped in illusion,” and 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." Perhaps the old ‘Nam vet is having flashbacks again, because the only illusion the troops in harm’s way are seeing is the faulty premise that our nation’s elected officials support our determined efforts in any way, shape, or form. Everywhere Congressman Murtha looks he sees “quagmire,” yet the only quagmire the troops recognize is the political one at home that the antiwar chorus has tirelessly worked three long years in which to sink us.
Every commentator on record has bent over backwards so as not to dare impugn the courage of Congressman Murtha’s convictions, even as they strongly disagree with his views. Vice President Cheney has deemed him "a good man" and a "patriot," even as he characterized Murtha’s proposal as "a dangerous illusion" to assume that "another retreat by the civilized world would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone." Obviously deferring to the perceived clout of a veteran from a war he never served in, Mr. Cheney later measured his words by saying he also respected the right of Rep. Murtha to form his own opinions.
*Or as John Kerry called it, "the biggest nothing in history."
Not to be outdone, President Bush also came out praising retired Marine Col. Murtha as "a fine man" and adding that disagreeing with the administration was not in itself unpatriotic. Certainly not, Mr. President. But I will not be so squeamish in my own assessment of Colonel Mustard.
When a United States Congressman’s pronouncements and stated goals become indistinguishable from those of our nation’s adversaries, I am left with no recourse other than to consider him likeminded. While I am not privy to the standard required for one to be "aiding and abetting the enemy," I do know that this behavior toes the line. "Battle tested" he may once have been, now all he appears is battle fatigued by a war he's not even fighting. Is that the message he wants the world to receive about today’s generation of Marines? That three years constitutes the upper limit of their resolve? Or does that merely reflect the attention span of equivocal egressmen like himself? No better friend, no worse enemy, says the Corps. Which one is he?
But popular dissent is far from all that MoveOn Murtha is feeding with his irresponsible rhetoric. His actions are sharply damaging to troop morale both at home and abroad and weaken further an already shaky Iraqi confidence in our staying power . His desire to see all of our Western warriors flee east of Eden is stoking the flames of antiwarrior sentiment throughout every elitist liberal enclave, helping rob yet another generation of soldiers of their hard fought and well deserved honor--something his own background should make him intimately acquainted with. And worst of all, Col. Murtha's gripes of wrath are playing politics with our lives.
The Art of War, the proto-text of military insight, counsels that "one need not destroy one's enemy; one need only destroy his willingness to engage." You can bet al-Qaeda ringleader Zarqawi subscribes to this, and has registered an external view of our adversarial political system to convey internal weakness within our shores and widespread dissention among our ranks. He has written that Americans are "the most cowardly of God’s creatures." Not all of us, Z-man. Not all of us.
Not long ago, several members from my Stryker brigade were seriously wounded in an all-out battle to capture a handful of top-tier targets holed up in a residential Mosul safe house. It is believed that, rather than be taken alive, the occupants self-detonated their stronghold, bringing down the entire structure around them. The bodies, to include at least one U.S. serviceman, are still in the process of being recovered from the rubble. Zarqawi himself may even turn out to be among them.
This is the reality of what we face out here on the front lines. We are not complaining, and we are not bitter. This is our job; we understand the risks--and this is what the majority of us signed up to do. But what we don’t need is to come back from a nine-hour patrol only to discover that our own representatives in Congress--including some of the very same members who voted to send us here in the first place--are now threatening to pull the rug out from under us just as we near the moment of truth. Their party’s post-bellum depression is starting to rear it’s ugly little head, but we have a message for them: Your public approval ratings are not our problem.
What is it exactly that all these Democratic doubters are suddenly so afraid of? Are they worried that we may actually prevail, and enshrine not only Middle Eastern democracy in the annals of Things That Could Not Be Done, but cement President Bush’s place in history as well? Are they afraid of a Republican clean sweep in the ‘06 midterms, followed by another slam-dunk in ‘08? I pray it is something more. Something more important than sheer electoral advantage. I would like to think that if I should have to pay the ultimate sacrifice it won’t be all for naught; or at least that it would be for a higher purpose than allowing John Murtha to hold onto his Congressional seat.
"How do you ask a man to be the last [one] to die for a mistake?" waxed young naval philosopher-king John Kerry in the throes of his seminal moment. Thirty five years later, I have an answer for him: Simply don’t work so hard to ensure that a war you initially supported degenerates into a mistake after the fact.
Irrespective of the daily Democratic dithering, the Iraqi shurta, soldiers, and civilians will continue to cry freedom long after our American politicians, polls, and pundits have all cried uncle. If we abandon them now, however, their fate will by then have irreversibly changed hands from the preventable to the tragically inevitable. Where will your concern for human rights be then, President Carter? Or does that concern only extend to terrorist detainees?
Are we no better as a people than those European EUnuchs--that loose colony of moral lepers continually plagued by indecision, apathy, and intestinal rot? Have we resigned ourselves to their inherited impotence, issuing forth unenforceable resolutions in order to placate undeterrable dictators? Have we not learned that relying on the Security Council for protection is as foolhardy as depending on Social Security for retirement?
It is possible we could have given the United Machinations more time to play out--after all, there had only been twelve years of inspections Kabuki theater that resulted in nothing but noncompliance on Saddam’s part. Twelve years. (The entire run of Seinfeld aired in less). Or is it rather the futility of entrusting a monumental task entailing the potential use of force to a world body with the purported goal of eliminating the use of force the possibility that cannot be overstated?
Reforming Iraq from a terrorist magnet to a tourist mecca will not be an easy task, but it can be done. Anyone who has visited the Kurdish north--as my platoon recently did in Dohuk--has indeed glimpsed the past, present, and especially the future of the region. It is a future as bright as the children’s smiles, as secure and safe as the city streets, and as laden with opportunity as the strip malls that bustle with traffic. One would be forgiven for thinking it the lost city of Atlantis, considering the total vacuum of MsM coverage of such oases of normalcy throughout Iraq. But it is only one possible future for the remainder of the country. The path leading elsewhere is still apparently being written and debated over by those with agendas all their own, even as bullets are still flying and our soldiers are still bleeding.
Such were the triumphant words of North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap in an interview fifteen years after the fall of Saigon. Must we hear them repeated again, by a take-no-prisoners (literally) band of al-Sadists whose capacity for evil make communists look like choirboys? Or will our unyielding military men and women be allowed to complete our "mission impossible" we have fought and bled to render so imminently plausible?
The ball’s in your court, America. We've done our part. It's high time you did yours.
You really want to support the troops? Support our efforts. And make sure Congress hears you loud and clear.