I just caught Congressman John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania) on NPR's Diane Rehm Show. The more I hear what Murtha has to say, the more I agree with him. Here are what I thought were some of the best points he made today, and why I think they're spot on accurate observations.
-- We are not fighting terrorism in Iraq.
As Murtha points out, as best we can tell there are only 1,000 to 1,500 members of al Qaeda presently in Iraq. The vast majority of the people we're killing and capturing in Iraq are not international terrorists; they're either Iraqi insurgents or innocent civilians.
-- We have lost the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.
The innocent civilians we have killed are a large reason for this. This is not to say that our troops on the ground are running around purposely killing civilians. On the contrary, at the tactical level, I believe that we're taking every possible measure to avoid collateral damage consistent with the safety of our own troops. But operationally and strategically, we're conducting the war in a manner in which large numbers of non-combatant deaths are unavoidable. Despite our precision weapons technology, we simply can't take down a defended town like Fallujah without either inadvertently killing a number of mommies and babies or getting a lot of our own troops blown up because they have their hands tied behind their backs.
By this point in this woebegone war, we may well have wrought more death and destruction on Iraqi innocents than the monster Hussein ever did. That we did so in a "noble cause" is really irrelevant. The civilians we have killed accidentally and the ones Hussein killed on purpose are equally dead. And their surviving friends, neighbors, and family members are equally angry at and fearful of us as they were of Hussein.
-- "Staying the course" is not an exit strategy.
It may seem superfluous to have to point out that "staying" and "exiting" are polar opposites, but apparently it's necessary to highlight the inherent absurdities of the Bush administration's propaganda to the folks who still buy it.
Time after time after time, the people who brought us this war have refused to articulate what they consider to be the conditions of "victory." And with no specific stated measures of success, "staying the course" literally means that there is no exit.
Operation Iraqi Freedom: a play in two acts by John Paul Sartre.
-- Al Qaeda wants us in Iraq. Iran wants us there, China want us there, using up our resources.
This is the sorriest reality of our lamentable excursion into Iraq. The longer we stick around in that country, the weaker it makes us militarily, economically, and diplomatically. And the longer we make up bogus excuses to stay there, the more we deplete our already profoundly damaged credibility in the world community.
Every tape and video released by bin Laden or his henchmen purposely targets the deluded barbecue cowboy mentality of George W. Bush and his supporters. There's no better way to convince self-consciously self-styled tough guys to stay in a stupid, self-defeating fight than to threaten to call them sissies if they pull out of it.
Shoot, what would Mommy think, with all them A-rabs calling Junior a pantywaist? Ain't no way in hell we're gonna let that happen, by golly.
What a profound American tragedy it is that we're letting people with that kind of schoolyard mentality drive our foreign policy.
As I've said before, the rest of the world is looking on and giggling as we senslessly pour American treasure and blood into Iraq.
For more specifics on John Murtha's positions on the Iraq War, visit this page at his web site.