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November 17, 2005

John Murtha's Over the Hill
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

I see a lot of merit in Congressman John Murtha's statement today on Iraq.  I don't agree with all that he's said, but I think its essential that we come to grips with the absence of a strategy to win, and with the toll Iraq is taking on our military and our level of preparedness back home.  I've become convinced that the Administration's approach amounts to a quest for a "decent interval" aimed to avert humiliation at all costs, even if those costs are in American lives, as they will be.

But there's one aspect of Murtha's proposal that strikes me as flat out fallacious:  one of the four principles of his plan is to "To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines."  Tonight on the Newshour Murtha explained what he meant:

Now, when I say redeploy our troops, I'm talking about to Kuwait, if they allow us to redeploy there, to Okinawa where we can be over the horizon, go back in, in case there's more terrorist activity.

I simply don't understand this.  Go back in if there's more terrorist activity?  Murtha believes, and may well be correct, that the US military presence is one factor fueling the insurgency.  But are we the only factor?  Will the bloodshed really cease once we go?  Will not the terrorist activity - - driven by political designs on the Iraqi state - continue?  How will we judge whether its "more" or "equal" to the level when we left? 

And, to Murtha's point, what if it is "more"?  Will we "go back in"?  In what kind of numbers?  And for what purpose?  To prevent Iraq from devolving into a failed state and a totally unregulated terrorist haven?   If that's our goal, are we really better off leaving now with the distinct possibility (tacitly acknowledged by Murtha) that Iraq will lurch toward even greater chaos than its in today and that - - per Murtha! -- if that happens our men would need to go back in?

All this confusion illustrates the cruel and disastrous dilemma Bush has imposed on us.   Murtha's speaking some important truths, but I don't think we've hit on a way out of this wilderness just yet.


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Murtha did seem a little "senile" when suggesting on the News Hour that US troops could be redeployed in Okinawa for "over the horizon" action against "terrorism" in Iraq. (I'm sure the Okinawans can't wait). Can't a single Democrat articulate something that makes sense on Iraq?

Which leads me to... What do people think about not so subtle hints by visiting Kurdish leaders that US bases would be welcomed in Kurdistan?

This seems like a "win-win" option for following reasons:

1) allow US to immediately withdraw a large number of troops yet redeploy a healthy (and stealthy) presence in "Iraq", where training, intel gathering (torture), alcohol consumption, etc., could continue. And, most importantly to Congress, it would reduce US casualties as the Kurdish militias have kept a handle on insurgents.

2) advance key US strategic objectives by projecting longterm US military presence on borders of Iran, Turkey, Syria, Krazysunnistan and Shiamullahstan. (a robust "f--- you", if you will, to all these potential and actual adversaries)

3)(this is a longshot) can promote Kurdish civil society and democracy, including economic growth and political reform.

4) can be used cynically to address Turkish concerns over PKK presence.

5) could (ironically) help stave off outright Kurdish independence, if in fact that is believed to be undesireable by the US/UN and/or the Kurdish warlords.

While undoubtedly on the cynical side and ignoring an admittedly remote possibility of larger regional warfare, why not pursue this option? (And if you think such a strategy could actually help BushPig Inc., then find some Dems with balls (brains would help too) to seize on it first.

If that's our goal, are we really better off leaving now with the distinct possibility (tacitly acknowledged by Murtha) that Iraq will lurch toward even greater chaos than its in today and that - - per Murtha! -- if that happens our men would need to go back in? -- Suzanne

In the first place, I think he means we'd go in if Iraq becomes a terrorist haven against the US, in which case we might send in troops to destroy training camps, kill terrorist leaders etc. Get in and out as fast as we can. This also may have been a political throw-away line to say that we're not beaten -- we're just redoploying.

More importantly, you're assuming that our troops are preventing civil war in Iraq, but, for over a year now, we have been going into Sunni cities with the Kurdish militia and fighting the locals. This is the absolute worst thing you could do if you wanted to prevent a civil war, and this alone would make our occupation counterproductive, even if we were doing everything else right.

In any case, what other choice do we have? We can't stay in Iraq without destroying our army, and Fallow's latest Atlantic Monthly article points out that we "are losing ground" when it comes to building up the Iraqi military. Our soldiers are dying for no purpose.

Good for Murtha for acknowledging the obvious. Senile or not, he's making a lot more sense than Bush or Hillary.

You have some strange views on Turkey, JA.

Murtha is clearly wrong on this issue. Andrew Jackson had it right. General Black Jack Pershing definitely had it right. Do whatever it takes to win, and finish the job. Murtha may be a war vet, and he has my respect for his past contribution, but he is another liberal willing to sell out future generations for blood now. And that’s the cost. It’s either blood now, or blood later, but the bill has to be paid in blood. We are at the doorstep, and if we hold, we can have a solid base in the Middle East, the first true democracy in an Islamic country and a foothold to be able to squash regional uprising as it begins. If we turn tail and run now, we might as well give the terrorists the keys to come into our homes and kill and rape us. I'm just surprised that such a seemingly smart man did not retain anything from his war experience.

After WWI we packed it up and sent the boys back home. Fifteen years later we had to start it up again for WW2 because we left a power vacuum which was filled by a wonderful man & dictator, Adolf Hitler. We STILL have bases in Europe left over from WW2. Can’t you boomers see this correlation, or are you too busy cashing out the equity in your homes to buy SUV’s? Your parents paid the price for freedom in blood and toughness. I'm embarrassed by the baby boomer generation, as their only contribution to society has been civil rights and a distrust of government. They think they are fixing the world with their sympathetic kiss & hug response, but in reality they are killing future generations buy not finishing the difficult job now. Very typical and shortsighted and very indicative of the current liberal thinking. Their ability to turn tail and not have resolve on a SINGLE difficult issue is an embarrassment to those of us in the U.S. that believe we should finish the spread of democracy in the middle east. YES, I’m horrified that my own mother would sell us out.

Thinking that we can cut and run means that the terrorists have won, and they know it. Murtha had it wrong and he should be scorned a generation from now for not holding the line. I hope he is held accountable along with Pelosi, Rockefeller, Kerry, Reid, Durban and the rest. These people are selling us out again. I’m embarrassed to be an American with these people around. Who elects them? What does it take to actually call Treason anymore? Obviously the fact that major media sympathizes with terrorists and then propagates this to the population means that the other side has won. Period.

I’ll expect more violence in the U.S. shortly after we bring the troops home. That is the message we are putting out in the world. That the US has no backbone. What we should do is actually stay the course and win the war. This is a war of ideology that has been around for centuries. If you think the war against Islamic extremism is new, then you need to go study your history. You can’t barter with terrorists and you can’t change the way they think. Kill them by the boatload and bury them in the sand face down covered in pig guts, demoralize the core into genuine reflective thought that maybe the U.S. means business. Bless Pershing, as even he knew half measures won’t work with this bunch.

Thank you to the liberals and cowards in the U.S. for not wanting to finish a war abroad, and don’t be shocked when those that want to harm us do so on our own soil. I guess then we’ll all hold hands in a circle and sing protests with Cindy Sheehan. That’ll solve the problem. Just remember – when its time to pay the butchers’ bill on our own soil, it’ll be the next generation that pays dearly.

Isn't this the same as what CAP proposed as a Kuwait-based rapid reaction force, or do you think that doesn't make sense either?

I didn't see the News Hour last night, but don't people realize there are thousands of Marines, sailors, and airmen stationed on Okinawa right now, for just such a purpose - quick response to anywhere in Asia? Is he simply suggesting more?

And I agree that simply labelling some of them "for terrorism" won't solve any of the issues of what necessitates troop deployment.

Finally some democrat with common sense. I support him fully. Its about time a democrate stood up to these fucking republicans stealing our money and getting our troops killed. GET THE FUCK OUT OF IRAQ. or make it the 51st state and take all the oil.


"Do whatever it takes to win, and finish the job."

Paul, one of the things it takes is more troops, lots more.

So here's my proposal. Let's have a quick referendum, not secret ballot. We vote on whether to get out or not.

And everybody who votes to stay in, gets drafted for the duration, until we win or they die, whichever comes first.

Never mind about age or infirmities. The army can find a use for you, and every job that two old men can do will release a younger man to fight.

Doesn't it make sense that the guys who say we have to do whatever it takes to win, should be the ones who do whatever it takes?

"Doesn't it make sense that the guys who say we have to do whatever it takes to win, should be the ones who do whatever it takes?"

- but...that would mean that we'd have to send most of Congress, along with both the Prez and the VP!

hell - couldn't hurt, could it? and we could start fresh, get some new faces in both Houses, some new ideas circulating through the country: I say got for it!

To Judah's question re whether Murtha's proposal is the same as CAP's, I don't think so. CAP's language on the point is as follows:

Phase two of the drawdown would begin in January 2007. By the end of 2007, the only US military forces in Iraq would be a small Marine contingent to protect the US embassy, a small group of military advisors to the Iraqi Government, and counterterrorist units that works closely with Iraqi security forces. This presence, along with the forces in Kuwait and at sea in the Persian Gulf area will be suffi cient to conduct strikes
coordinated with Iraqi forces against any terrorist camps and enclaves that may emerge and deal with any major external threats to Iraq.

I read this to mean that the US forces in proximity might conduct strikes against terrorist in Iraq, but not that they would "go back in." It's an important difference, in that if we are going to pull-out, we need to do so with the knowledge we won't be going back in, come what may for Iraq and the region.

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