Thursday, November 17, 2005

'A Flawed Policy Wrapped in Illusion'

One more voice asking for change:

"It is time for a change in direction," said Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., one of Congress' most hawkish Democrats. "Our military is suffering, the future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region."

House Republicans assailed Murtha's position as one of abandonment and surrender, and accused Democrats of playing politics with the war. "They want us to retreat. They want us to wave the white flag of surrender to the terrorists of the world," Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said in a statement.

Murtha estimated that all U.S. troops could be pulled out within six months. A decorated Vietnam veteran, he choked back tears during his remarks to reporters.

Murtha's comments came just two days after the Senate voted to approve a statement that 2006 "should be a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty" to create the conditions for the phased withdrawal of U.S. forces.

In recent days, President Bush and other top administration officials have lashed out at critics of the war and have accused Democrats of advocating a "cut and run" strategy that will only embolden the insurgency.

Vice President Dick Cheney jumped into the fray Wednesday by assailing Democrats who contend the Bush administration manipulated intelligence on Iraq, calling their criticism "one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city."

Murtha, a Marine intelligence officer in Vietnam, angrily shot back at Cheney: "I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

Referring to Bush, Murtha added: "I resent the fact, on Veterans Day, he criticized Democrats for criticizing them."
Murtha's comments have given war-hungry, blind Republicans another opportunity to call the Democratic Party's war opposition (oh that it were unified in its degree and passion) reprehensible and irresponsible. Cheney called us liars. Murtha has two purple hearts.

Question of the Day: I wonder how many Democratic purple hearts it takes to equal 5 courageous Republican deferments. How about how many limbs? Kerry didn't have enough medals. Cleland apparently retained one limb too many to prove his courage. So how many does it take? Will Murtha's be enough?

23 comments:

Ruby said...

First, I don't think Bush/Cheney were directing their comments to Murtha specifically. They were speaking to the Democrats generally, and the Clintons (both the draft dodger and the senator from NY), Albrights, Deans, Pelosis, Bidens, Reids, etc, who all supported the war when they could remember what precipitated it (and how public opinion was blowing), and now say the president lied. THEY ARE RE-WRITING HISTORY! They all agreed, in fact, the whole world-community agreed that the UN inspectors were being toyed with by SH. They all agreed that the SH posed a grave threat. Now they say the president lied because it is politically expedient to do so. That is bogus, and shameful.

Moreover, I think your question of the day is a bit on the unfair/sophomoric side - really, let's not appeal to passions here, let's appeal to reason. B/c if you want to throw down that gauntlet, how many heroic Kerry photographic/film re-do's and outright lies about service does it take to equal a few Republican deferments? give me a break.

cd said...

Photographic/film re-dos?

Was or was not the man awarded a Purple Heart?

You want to talk sophomoric and unfair - and let's thrown in disgusting, Ruby, how about a bunch of Reep conventioneers slapping band-aids on themselves and mocking Kerry's military honors? Give ME a break.

As far as Clinton draft dodging - I'd still say at least he backed out for a cause other than having "other priorities" or getting more deferments than the average joe would be allowed, so he could save his hiney. He also has accepted responsibility for his lack of service. Cheney has never batted an eye at his failures.

I have many problems with Dems who supported the war, make no mistake. Many of my party's leaders failed me and I've never given them a pass for it.

But then again, the buck stops with the guy in power and that's Bush.

Your selective presentation of recent history also leaves much to be desired in terms of what was internationally agreed upon and what wasn't.

Ruby said...

I'm not saying that Kerry didn't deserve the purple heart. But I think that if you are going to elevate him as some kind of war hero standard, then you have to look honestly at his own record - throwing away his meddals in mock protest then reclaiming them, lying before Congress about what went on and endangering US POW's, re-shooting footage so that he would look better in it.

And I'll agree that how some Reep conventioners behaved was in poor taste, to say the very least - But GW never questioned his honor or his service. You can play that blame game all day long and not get anywhere - there are all kinds of ill mannered dems with bad taste -- why is it OK to question or ridicule GW's service? because he served in the national guard? it's still service with very real risk involved.

But this is all beside the point - the fact is that a whole lot of high powered Dems, freely and in an informed manner, supported the war and now they say that they only did it because they were lied to. It's completely bogus. I have a hell of a lot more respect for the men and women who have opposed the war efforts from the beginning, or if they have changed their minds are honest about why they have changed their minds, than the phony's who want to say that GW lied. That's crap. And I even respect those who want to see the US pull out because they believe that the cost outweighs the benefit, even if I disagree with their analysis.

And as far as world opinion goes, the UN repeated sent inspectors who were denied access, those inspectors repeatedly argued that SH had or was developing WMD, etc. If they didn't maintain that opinion (which there is plenty of public record to prove taht they did), why did they continue to sanction Iraq?

Ruby said...

ps: I realize that I mis-typed when I wrote Congress: Kerry testified before the Senate

Anonymous said...

Had GW been assigned to TANG randomly and had daddy Bush not actively sought out that Commission for Jr. to ensure that he avoided assignment in a location more dangerous than Texas, and had Jr. not spent his days AWOL working on daddy Bush's buddy's senate campaign, then fine, I'd agree that attacking Bush's "honor" (hee hee) or service (hee hee) is inappropriate.

By the way, Congress was not fully informed, nor was the American public...and BushCo. selectively disregarded some information and manipulated public sentiment to make it seem like America and the world faced a "clear and present danger."

Now that's disgusting.

But wait! It doesn't even end there. There's such a wagon-circling culture in DC Reeps that they'll spin and lie and leak classified, national security information to protect themselves and for purely partisan purposes...and still they can't admit to wrongdoing.

I can't wait til' the whole lot is thrown out in 2006/08.

Btw. I opposed this mess of a war from the get go.

cd said...

Thanks, Anon. That pretty much covers what I would've said.

cd said...

Ruby - repeat after me - step away from the Salvatori Center . . . back away from Pitzer Hall . . . . in fact on this issue, most of the west campus should be avoided.

Anonymous said...

er, that was Congress fully "in"formed. oops

Anonymous said...

nvrmind

Ruby said...

CD,
your welcome to disagree with me, but don't insult my intelligence, personal rigor and integrity, or assume that I blindly repeat what professors, with whom I have not even communicated in well over a year, bc you do so. I actually can and do read and form my own opinions. And let's not pretend that the dems are somehow objective and pure and don't take advantage of Daddy's (or wife's) wealth, influence, etc, when it suits them. Puh-leez.

And thanks anon, you prove my point about how it's ok to criticize GWB but not Kerry. GWB never used his service as the cornerstone of his campaign like some others did, but maybe that's because he didn't have the stellar action shots to support his claims, or the universal respect of fellow soldiers.

cd said...

Lordamighty, Ruby - didn't I defend you from others who didn't get your joke in other comments?

For pity sake . . . .

And, not to be snarky . . okay, to be snarky, or just to question - why would siding with professor insult your intelligence or integrity?

Ruby said...

Ok, so it was a slightly irrational response - I admit it. I had a moment.

But what exactly is: "step away from the Salvatori Center . . . back away from Pitzer Hall . . . . in fact on this issue, most of the west campus should be avoided," supposed to mean?

I don't parrot what the west campus has to say on anything. If I agree with their assesment, so be it. And when I disagree, I disagree.

but back to your more general point, I don't think it's a good idea for either side of the aisle to label opposition generally as unpatriotic. There are good and patriotic people on both sides of the aisle, and everywhere along the spectrum, who agree and disagree with the war because there are legitimate reasons to do either.

It is fair, in my mind at least, to question the integrity of people who lie about why the supported the war early on but now don't and who are accusing the administration of lying and calling for an immediate, or nearly so, withdrawl of US troops which would be incredibly irrisponsible. The whole "be sure to have your exit strategy in place before you go to war" mentality that came out of Vietnam is flawed at its root -- the objective should be, must be, victory.

Now, how victory is defined is certainly a question up for debate.

Anonymous said...

I'd much rather consider the opinions of someone who has been to war, been shot it, shot at others, and then had the courage to voice their opposition to the war, than I'd ever consider from someone whose decision to go to war is based on voices from god swirling in his head, or whose rationalizations for going to war switch daily (protecting Iraqi women; looking for WMD's; spreading freedom; fighting terrorism; because god made me do it; because it's Tuesday; because cheney told me to also).

After Bush made the war a campaign issue, it'd have been derelict for Kerry not to tout his military experience since reeps were intent and still are on saying Dems don't care or don't know how to care about security/military issues. I'd have said the same thing too (and gone further than Kerry) by pointing to my service/medals/and courage to still oppose the war).

Anyways, for Cheney to climb out of his bunker at the undisclosed location and call the dems' accusations deplorable almost made me choke on the irony of such a claim.

reps, until recently, have been unified in their claims out of one side of their mouth that dems' criticisms were "hurting the troops" while out of the other were indifferent to claims of ill-equipped troops and arguing for expansion of the patriot act and rationalizing torture.

hold on, i have to puke again.

jbl said...

GWB never used his service as the cornerstone of his campaign like some others did, but maybe that's because he didn't have the stellar action shots to support his claims, or the universal respect of fellow soldiers.

Or maybe it's because GWB didn't really have much service to speak of. In the whole "Rathergate" issue, no one ever questioned the validity of what the document contained, only that the document was forged. Just something to consider.

And dang it, maybe people in Congress are jumping on the bandwagon, but if they were lied to, don't they have the right to complain?

And as for the claim that the Dems are now re-writing history... If they are, which I don't buy, that can't be any worse than the Bush administration re-writing the history of why we got into the war in the first place. Was it to find WMD? Was it to bring democracy to Iraq? Was it to protect oil fields (at a press confernce Bush directly addressed the Iraqi people requesting that they not burn the oil fields)? Was it because of the oft-implied connection between SH, Al Qaeda and 9/11? For a while it seemed like the Bush admin. was rewriting history every six weeks.

The fact that we sent the best army in the world into a hostile environment without a plan, without a purpose, without proper armor and equipment, and without sufficient numbers is a greater detriment and more disrespectful to our troops than dissent at home.

Anonymous said...

here here

JB said...

I have a question. How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man?

Well question aside. The problem with your premise Christiana is that while Murtha's courage, and valor and many great things he did in the past demonstrate him to be a good man, they do not validate or invalidate his position on this issue. It's not like we take a poll of Veterans and then they vote on all the relevant issues of the day.

That's what Heinlein suggested, that someone must "earn" their citizenship, the whole difference between a civilian and a citizen. But here's the thing, if you really want to limit the franchise to veterans, be my guest. I have a feeling things will work out just fine for the Republican Party and you won't take the bait.

But Murtha's position for good or for ill, turns on the merit of the position not his status. Judge the argument by the position it is based on, not his status as a courageous man. Because while that speaks well of him, very well, courageous men sometimes take wrong positions, and cowards sometimes right, the position is to be judged not the person.

And on that account, I readily disagree with Murtha, we're there, and we have to finish the job, we have to finish this right. Putting Iraq on solid footing is better for everyone than the alternative.

cd said...

JB - I disagree.

Evaluating anything requires attention not just to the content, but to the method of delivery.

Jack Pitney's rule #1 in research is, as I recall, "Consider the source."

Murtha's experience and position absolutely affect the validity of what he says. Do we not give more weight - or at least attention, which amounts to the same - to the words and ideas of Senators, Congressman, learned professors, etc?

You're right, we don't poll veterans. Of course, perhaps if we did, or at least spoke with them more, we'd understand what the hell was going on in the world a little better. Because I don't think any of us "get it" when we're talking about what should be done with troops, what they are facing, what they come home to, or how much they can bear - which is a lot.

My dad gets it a lot better, however.

Murtha's position turns on both the merit of his position and the weight of experience and references comprising that experience. Shepardize Murtha and Bush. Murtha may have a yellow triangle, but Bush has a fat stopsign, as far as I'm concerned.

The problem is, the moment someone once friendly to the position begins to change his tune, the rebuttal isn't based on why we need to stay, but on the supposed-irresponsibility of the speaker.

I don't see how we can cut out of there either - we've made such a royal, inexcusable, dare i say, irresponsible mess over there, if everyone came home tomorrow, I shudder to think what would happen to the Iraqi people.

But I would like to know what the f*ck the plan IS over there. Someday we should have all our troops home, no? Otherwise, let's make it the 51st state and be done with it - at least then we'd be fighting for our own and they'd have a solid constitution already.

Why did we go to war? Because "they have WMD!" with a side of "AlQ, AlQ! 9/11! 9/11!" - the latter translating to - hey one evil Arab, another eveil Arab, that general region - of COURSE they were connected.

EXCEPT THEY WEREN'T.

AND WE NEVER FOUND THE WMD.

So yeah, even if it wasn't a lie, it was a hell of a huge gamble on which to wager the lives of even 200 Americans, let along 2000+ lives, plus the tens of thousands of invisible injured, plus god only knows how many Iraqi dead and wounded.

Bush and the rest may never be properly punished in this lifetime, but they certainly deserve to feel the sting of some kind of consequence.

Ruby said...

I think JB and CD are both right about evaluating the claim -- one the one hand, you must consider the source, on the other hand, the source is not enough, you must also consider the merits of the claim. For example, if I hear a Catholic Priest and a Jewish Rabbi discussing the doctrine of transubstantiation, I'm inclined to attribute greater crediblity to the Priest simply b/c he's a priest, but then again, I've heard a whole lot of heretical priests in my time, so I still have to listen carefully to what he has to say. The same with respect to going to war; I'm inclined to listen to Veterans and hear them out, especially veterans who have the benefit of being privileged to certain classified information regarding the current situation. But a veteran is just as falliable, partisan, and emotional as any other human being. So it is not ENOUGH that he is a Veteran. He must also have the right arguments.

Let's not forget that there are veterans supporting both sides of the argument.

As for the criticisms that soldiers were sent without adequate equiptment, support, etc - I fully agree. If you are going to send a US soldier to fight abroad, you owe it to him to give him everything he needs to win. The problem with Bush, in my mind, is that he is unwilling to cut spending in other areas, or increase taxes, to pay for the war he wants to win. You can't increase spending (or even maintain it) across the board, cut taxes, and fight a war halfway around the world.

Ruby said...

Also, I don't think there has to be only one reason to go to war. Bush made me very angry when he hung his whole hat on WMDs. That was part of it, no doubt, but there was more. It was probably the easiest argument for him to make to the people, and it wasn't untrue. But there were other equally important, although more nuanced arguments as well: shifting the balance of power in the middle east to make a more hospitable environment towards the US; even if it was not the primary objective (though, maybe in GW's mind it really was high up there - I'm inclined to believe that he is a genuinely decent man who wants to end suffering where he can), can you really say that ending the SH regime was bad for the people of Iraq - that in the long run they won't be MUCH better off?; is going to war for oil really such a bad thing? I for one am not opposed to it.

Democracy is not easy - especially in a sound bite world.

Anonymous said...

I, on the contrary, don't think he's a genuinely decent man, a position I derive not just from his warmongering positions alone, but from all his other policies.

I'm opposed to going to war for oil.

Also, while everyone can agree that Sadaam Hussein was a bad, evil person, that alone is not a premise for invasion of a country, especially when professed reasons for going to war -- such as connections between Al Queda and Iraq -- were misleading. And had, GWB articulated those other reasons for going to war, you sure as hell wouldn't have had people so eager (or scared into) to attack Iraq.

Lots of people in the rest of the world think GWB is an evil person...do they have the right to invade us? Nope. I don't know how life is different pre-war/post-war for Iraqis. I'm not there and the clamp down on information and generally superficial reporting coming out of Iraq (perhaps because its still too dangerous) doesn't give me any sense that on a day-to-day basis, Iraqis are better off.

For Iraqis, the judgment on this issue, may be, "are we/am I worse off with Sadaam who killed and gassed folks with American made and purchased weapons and was generally a fn evil dude" or "are we/am I worse off under a primarily American occupying force with bombs and insurgent combat and foreign "terrorist" intervention part of daily life ..and oh yeah, I still can use my coffee pot only 2 hours a day"?

I dont know.

JB said...

Well, I don't disagree that the source must absolutely be considered, but my point was that the nature of the source is not determinative, instead it is the merit of the argument itself. The source may reflect on the merit, but the source is not the arguments merit. It must stand or fall on its own.

Overall, I don't disagree with much of your comment, I do however, fall on the different side of how to interpret the situation. And it does sound like we're in agreement that since we're there now, we have to finish this work

Josh said...

CMC had a "west campus"?

And what ever happened to using the old, "I knew (fill in the blank), and you sir, are no..." argument? Of course, in this case it would read more like, "I've actually been in the military, I know what it is like to put my life on the line for my country, and you sir, have not and don't."

I honestly feel like standing outside the Whitehouse and booing till I go horse. Wait, I can't say that yet. I mean, I support my Commander and Chief.

Ben said...

It seems that we'll never learn. When people have the will for self-determination they will get it no matter how long it takes --- a day, a year, or years. This is true be it the insurgents of Viet Nam or Serbia, or those of the Russian, French and American Revolutions. Moreover, the form of government cannot be dictated. Since Iraq has been governed by despots since time immemorial, thrusting "democracy" upon them appears to be an excercise in futility. Just how long are we willing to make a commitment to assure the "founding" of democracy in Iraq?