MORE ON MURTHA:
Murtha’s resolution would force the president to withdrawal the nearly 160,000 troops in Iraq “at the earliest predictable date.”
Most Republicans oppose Murtha’s plan, and even some Democrats have been reluctant to back his position. Republicans were seeking to force Democrats to stand with the respected 30-year congressman or go on the record against his proposal. . . .
“Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency,” Murtha, a longtime hawk on foreign and military affairs issues, said Thursday. “They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion.”
A day after his comments, a U.S. field commander in Iraq countered the position of the usually pro-military congressman.
“Here on the ground, our job is not done,” said Col. James Brown, commander of the 56th Brigade Combat Team, when asked about Murtha’s comments during a weekly briefing that American field commanders routinely give to Pentagon reporters.
Speaking from a U.S. logistics base at Balad, north of Baghdad, two days before his scheduled return to Texas, Brown said: “We have to finish the job that we began here. It’s important for the security of this nation.”
I think that’s right. I wonder, though, if this business isn’t in part based on the expectation that we would have started drawing down troop numbers next year anyway, and now the Dems can claim victory for the 2006 election.
Meanwhile, Bill Quick writes:
I understand Murtha’s point: An endless low-level conflict combined with a murky strategy that makes very little sense in the context of protecting America now from Islamofascist attack has eroded the national will to the point where what might have been a minor setback could now conceivably become a definitive defeat of the sort that Vietnam itself turned into with withdrawal.
I’d differ somewhat with Murtha’s prescriptions, however. I don’t think what is needed is a land war involving half a million American troops against a small number of insurgents. I think we need to aim our efforts – from our hard-won bases in Iraq – against the outside forces that support those terror-insurgents for one reason or another – the regimes of Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
I actually think that Bush would have more support if he were seen as more active. Right now he’s not only getting hit by the antiwar left, but he’s lost support from the Bill Quicks.
UPDATE: Here’s a related post by Greg Djerejian:
I sympathize with those in the Administration who want to attack Democrats for their manifold hypocrisy on this issue. I really do. But I’ve made it clear I think the messengers should be the Ken Mehlmans, Congressional attack dogs, and such–not the President, Vice President, other very senior Administration officials. It makes them look cheap, vindictive and petty–exactly what they are accusing the Kennedys and Pelosis and so on of being. Look, when it comes to Iraq, they should be focusing on devising a winning game plan in Iraq. Period.
I suspect that the White House has felt that the less press the war got, the better in terms of avoiding fatigue on the part of the American public. That’s probably true in the short term, but on the other hand it’s harder in the long term.
I also suspect that our longer-term strategy — having an armed and friendly Iraq that’s in a position to threaten Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia — probably isn’t something they really want to do a lot of public talking about. But there’s no question that the Bush Administration hasn’t handled this issue very well.
Meanwhile, reader Marlon McAvoy notes that we have troops in other countries, too:
After six decades, isn’t it time we came up with a withdrawal timetable for our troops in Germany and Japan? And didn’t we already cover this ground, repeatedly?
As Yogi Berra says, it’s deja vous all over again. Apparently these folks think we should only be stationed in nations that aren’t in pressing need of our military. A crafty Republican pol would be publicly asking for the doves’ opinion about our military presence in other countries.
Q&O has a letter to Murtha from a fellow Vietnam veteran that’s worth reading, too. Excerpt:
There is no “peace with honor” when you leave before the job is done.
See the job through to the end despite the obstacles and challenges.
And yes, if it’s important, I wore this country’s uniform for 28 years as an infantry officer. I believe as much in the oath I took then as I do now. More importantly, I remember the feeling that my country had abandoned me as if it were yesterday, and I vowed if it ever tried it again, I’d speak up loudly and often.
It would be nice to believe you too remember that, and you too had made that sort of a vow.
Read the whole thing. And James Taranto has more on Murtha’s somewhat checkered history on the war, which he opposed before he voted for it, only to call for more troops before calling for a pullout. He’s got all his bases covered, I guess.