Monday, February 13, 2006

Murtha: We are not Fighting Terrorism in Iraq

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.


  1. Jeff:

    I caught Murtha on NPR as well. I thought he did a very nice job. I agree with him that by and large we are not fighting terrorism in Iraq. What I'm not certain about is whether, if we simply leave before the place is stable, Iraq will end up being a haven for terrorism the likes of which will make Afghanistan pale in comparison. If al-zarqawi and his ilk take control there, it won't be good for us. I think that's a legitimate national security concern.

  2. I think you're missing his point about staying deployed in the periphery.

  3. But if we stay deployed in the periphery, will our problems with respect to resentment for us being over there go away?

  4. I can't predict that, but even if they don't, that's not a reason not to redeploy to the peripherey.

    Getting out of the middle is a good idea on its own merits.

  5. Can't argue with that. Makes sense.

  6. Barndog9:45 PM

    I saw Col Murtha a week or so ago on Tweety (Matthews). From this - I suspect it was close to the same speech.

    Being deployed outside the middle is a damm good idea. The way I see it, Bush has played into every card Osama has layed on the table for him.

    16k+ wounded, 2400+ dead, and God knows how many fucked up in the head forever.

    I have my own issues, playing medivac with the guys who died and got fucked up, training for shit like this. I can only imagine what they're going through for these assholes.

    Col. Murtha knows what the hell he's talking about - they'd be wise to listen... but we know they won't.

    It pisses me off to no end. And you know what a pissed off Marine gets you...

    Semper Fidelis

  7. BD,

    My heartburn is that the Dems won't embrace the guy and his ideas.


    This subject deserves at least one 1,500 word essay, but for now let's just say that that any stragegy/operational plan needs to consider potential costs, risks, and payoffs, and Murtha's ideas are by far the best I've heard to date.

  8. Anonymous2:00 AM

    I remember reading an article by general Odum that said he thought that Iraq was already in a civil war and we're caught in the middle. That if we redeployed, the Iraqis who have no love for al queda will do a better job of soughting them out, plus they'd be responsible for civilian collateral damage. as jeff said it requires lots of details, but Murtha has the fundamental principles down that should be guiding us. figting iraqi insurgents is not fighting terrorism, iraq is not some holy flypaper, the neocons got it all wrong.

  9. Lots of people have been saying a civil war is underway, some for over a year. I tend to agree with that.

    My take is that if we withdraw to the periphery, all we'll really have left in Iraq is civil war. The worst thing I see happening right now would be if the Shia's started committing wholesale genocide of the Sunnis. Would that be our fault for leaving? I hardly think so. Wars of genocide are going on right now in Africa, and we're not in the middle of them.

    I don't buy the notion that we can bring Iraq together at the point of a gun. And I don't buy that we're obliged to keep our troops in harm's way in the middle of a civil war.

    The neocons got it wrong? Depends what you think they were trying to do in the first place. Keep in mind that invading Iraq was the plan from before Dubya declared for hte nomination.

  10. I disagree on one point, Jeff. We invaded the country, we overturned the existing government, and if the Shias started engaging in wholesale slaughter of the Sunnis, we'd have a moral responsibility to step in and do something about it. After all, the situation would not exist but-for our own actions. I don't think we can just wipe our hands if that happens. But retreating to the periphery sounds like a good idea, and we don't know precisely what would happen - may be that such a move would go a long way toward fixing things.

  11. William Bollinger3:34 PM

    It's kind of a "rock and a hard place" situation, Scott. Although it's definitely our fault, we can either pull back and allow it to get worse, or stay in and cause it to get worse. We've broken it to the point of a no-win scenario.

    The good thing about being in that periphery is we can rattle sabers while trying to help them make it better, and hope we don't actually have to go back in and make it worse.