questions and debate

we are still not having an honest debate about iraq. why is it that we cannot, even now, thoughtfully engage the arguments for and against bush’s troop surge without accusing one side or the other of trying to gain political advantage? being against the war is a popular position to take, so it is neither brave nor courageous to parrot the poll-driven opinion of others. democrats and those few republicans who have come out against this troop surge can both be accused of trying to gain political advantage by supporting their various non-binding resolutions, and there’s a strong case that could be made for that point of view. we need to get beyond these accusations and have the iraq debate based on a full understanding of the consequences of what we choose to do next in iraq.

democrats are trying their hardest to oppose the war in iraq without taking any steps to end our involvement there. they seem to believe that this is what the american people voted for.  the democrats are misinterpreting the message that was sent in November. the message was that we wanted a plan to win, and that we didn’t believe the current course was headed toward that goal. nowhere in all the votes cast did I see a mandate for de-funding the war. the american people weren’t close to suggesting that the democrats should oppose a troop surge that could be an important measure to stabilize Baghdad, as well as being another step toward the withdrawal of our troops from iraq.

in order to call for the immediate withdrawal of our troops from iraq, several questions have to be asked. those who take this position have to realistically deal with the consequences of taking this action. if iraq degrades into more of a bloody mess than they believe it already is, what then? do we then send troops back into iraq, or do we leave iraq to fend for itself? if so, then it would make more sense to support the surge and to give it a fair chance to work before completely throwing the iraqis to the sectarian wolves.

some examples from history might suggest that we should give the surge a chance to work before completely abandoning the iraq project.

In 1973, a heavily Democratic Congress voted to prohibit U.S. air support for Cambodia’s pro-American army, then desperately fending off the communist Khmer Rouge insurgents. In early 1975, Congress cut off all U.S. military aid for Cambodia.

Predictably, Cambodian government forces were soon defeated by the Khmer Rouge, then backed by Communist China and North Vietnam.

What followed was one of the great horrors of the 20th century – the genocidal slaughter by the Khmer Rouge of 2 million Cambodians, roughly 40 percent of Cambodia’s population.

In 1974-75, an even more heavily Democratic Congress drastically cut U.S. military and economic assistance to our ally South Vietnam, even as the Soviet Union was illegally flooding North Vietnam with heavy weapons. The subsequent North Vietnamese invasion of South Vietnam overran our ally, took Saigon, and promptly imposed a Stalinist dictatorship that resulted in the deaths and imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese.

it’s easy to understand why the democrats are where they are with this war. it has nothing to do with sympathy for terrorists. democrats aren’t evil. they just don’t see the point in supporting a mission that they believe has already been doomed to fail. that’s a legitimate position to take, and it has quite a bit of popular support in the drive-by media and in the public at large. at this point, the only fingers of blame being pointed are at our commander-in-chief, and to a lesser degree, hillary clinton. the democrats don’t want to take any responsibility for this war. they don’t want this war to be their problem, because after all, bush started it, right?

that’s why I’m still calling their bluff. the democrats will not defund this war or take any significant steps toward proposing immediate withdrawal, because then they will have to share the blame for this war. opposing the troop surge by non-binding resolutions and sharply worded criticisms is a painless way to attempt to appease their anti-war supporters…except that the left isn’t buying in to their strategy. doing concrete harmful things would make the anti-war nuts happy, but what will be the effect on a post-Iraq America?

the left is worried about our reputation in the world. that reputation would further be damaged when it is determined that america will abandon its allies when it is politically convenient to do so. the world will become more dangerous once America withdraws from it. there would be benefits to requiring the rest of the world to fight its own enemies, to be sure, but once we cease to be a relevant power in the world, we cease to be a power at all. if we don’t stand up against the threat of terrorism and aggressively fight to keep our world free of the oppression of the minority, who will? if americans don’t fight for our own freedom and security, why should anyone else?

there is an alternative point of view in this debate that in fact iraq might not turn into the sectarian bloodbath many, including president bush, are predicting. in this article, robert dreyfuss dismisses the possibility of al-qaeda taking over iraq, because they are such a small part of the insurgency. he further goes on to say that he believes that the ties between the sunnis and their current partners in crime, al-qaeda, may be broken once the united states withdraws from iraq. the short version is that the united states military is a magnet for this chaos. you can disagree with his conclusions (which i do), but his arguments are worth considering.

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3 thoughts on “questions and debate

  1. “the democrats are misinterpreting the message that was sent in November. the message was that we wanted a plan to win, and that we didn’t believe the current course was headed toward that goal.”

    I would be curious to see polls supporting the above. I’ll agree that the vote was overwhelmingly for a change of course in Iraq, though I don’t think that meant an escalation of the war.

    The link to Robert Caldwell comparing Vietnam to the current situation in Iraq conveniently leaves out the previous nine years of combat surges into Vietnam, none of which worked; and instead led to the deaths of over 58,000 marines and soldiers. If there is any lesson members of Congress should learn from Vietnam it is that troop surges into the middle of a civil war for dubious and made up reasons don’t work.

    There is absolutely no reason to believe that if we had sent another surge into Vietnam in 1973, as suggested by many on the right, that it would have worked. If we are comparing Vietnam to Iraq, which I’ve always maintained is a horrible comparison, the record of surge failures is reason enough to not support Bush’s current escalation of the war.

    Interesting take on the whole surge debate, however 😉

  2. All that could be true. However, I’m not necessarily arguing in favor of the surge. There are no guarantees of success in the President’s current war strategy. I’m skeptical of all Iraq plans right now…but it could be because I am conditioned to be pessimistic by the constant drumbeat of negativity from the Democrats and the mainstream press. OR NOT.

    I was saying that we need to consider carefully the consequences of immediate withdrawal from Iraq. I don’t think that this is a good idea, but Mr. Dreyfuss made a reasonable opposing argument.

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