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Hell no, we won't go!

Last week's elections reminded me of a principle that I find I need to remind myself of fairly often: if you're assigning blame for something, start with the person or persons who actually committed the action before you start blaming others for not stopping it. They have the primary responsibility.

It's one that needs to be brought up on the subject of 9/11. Arguments about who is more to blame -- Clinton or Bush -- overlook the fact that neither of them actually did a damned thing TOWARDS the attacks. The arguments about their responsibilities are about which had more of a chance to prevent it. The real blame: the actual hijackers, Al Qaeda collectively, and militant Islam in general.

Last week's elections are another. People are blaming Bush for the Republicans' losses. That overlooks the fundamental point that while Republicans lost, such elections are a zero-sum game. That they lost means that, of necessity, the Democrats won. I would have to say that Howard Dean and the Democratic party carry at least as much, if not more, responsibility for the election results as Bush.

And now on to my main point: the talk about the US pulling out of Iraq.

Fact A: Recently, the Lancet published a report saying that 650,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the United States led the invasion that overthrew Saddam's decades-old reign in a matter of weeks. Those numbers have been rather thoroughly discredited, but just for the sake of argument let's say they're valid.

Fact B: The number of US casualties in Iraq is rapidly approaching 3,000.

Now, there is no disputing that there are a lot of killings going on in Iraq. And I think I can safely divide the folks doing the killing into three distinct categories:

1) Soldiers from the US and our allies. Their focus is on killing the terrorists and insurgents.

2) The growing and developing Iraqi security forces. Their focus is on killing the terrorists and the insurgents.

3) The terrorists and insurgents. Their focus is on killing #1, #2, those seen as sympathetic or helpful to #1 and #2, members of the Iraqi government, and anyone else they can for whatever reason they can.

So, the argument goes, because of Fact A and Fact B, we should get Group 1 the hell out of the combat zone. Logically, it follows that this will have a beneficial effect on Fact B, but what will happen to Fact A?

It's pretty obvious that Group B aren't up to the task of managing Group 3 on their own. They're a hell of a lot better than they were before, and getting better all the time, but they are facing a huge challenge. They are simply not ready.

On the other hand, Group C has made no commitments and no statements about reducing their level of attacks once the US leaves. In fact, it's just the opposite -- not only will they be emboldened, but they will have fewer targets to go after. I feel fairly comfortable predicting that the attacks on Iraqi security forces, Iraqi government officials, and Iraqi civilians will skyrocket without the US presence.

So, with a US withdrawal, Fact A will in all likelihood increase. But let's get selfish -- so what? As long as our boys (and girls) are out of harm's way, who cares what they do to each other? Isn't their safety more important?

My instinct is like many of yours, I bet -- to say "to hell with them" and keep our troops safe. But there's another factor involved -- what do the troops themselves think?

Active-duty military personnel are, by and large, restricted from speaking freely. It's the nature of the beast -- they forfeit some of their Constitutional rights and become, in essence, government property from the instant they take the oath until they are released from service -- most by discharge, some by death. But we're talking about the military here, and if there's one thing everyone should know, it's that their actions often speak far louder than their words.

Take a look at the actual personnel serving in Iraq, and take a look at their service records. More specifically, their terms of enlistment. On the average, more troops in Iraq re-enlist -- volunteer for several more years of duty -- than those who aren't in Iraq.

Simply put, those who are facing death or injury or maiming -- their own or, worse for them, their buddies -- are saying, by their deeds, that they are willing to stay in Iraq and keep working towards fulfilling their mission. They don't WANT to be protected. They see themselves as the protectors, and they don't like the idea of their charges acting to "shield" them from their duty.

In Viet Nam, we saw just the opposite. Soldiers counting down the days until they could return to "the world." Trying desperately to avoid going to Viet Nam. Desertions. "Fragging." Injuring themselves to get out of combat. It was a very small percentage that took the issue so far, but that any beyond a trifling handful was a very troubling sign.

I've never set foot in Iraq, and quite frankly I am not ever likely to. I have absolutely no talent for learning other languages, and it strikes me as rude to go to another country where I cannot speak their tongue. So I don't have much of an idea about how things really are.

But those in the best position to know seem to think that it's worth their personally sticking around, despite the risks and the deprivations and the constant attacks. I'll defer to them.

And I'll remember that the lion's share of blame for all those civilian deaths lies on the groups that killed them.


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Comments (18)

Brave soldiers. But this c... (Below threshold)
Judith:

Brave soldiers. But this country is filled with the likes of those who de-filed our brave soldiers from Vietnam. They are posed to do the same to our military personnel. After Vietnam, I thought this country was not worth fighting for because of the way they treated our military returning from fighting...this seems like dejavu all over again. The American people have spoken...and it is exactly the same thing they said in 1975!

Nicely said, but you forgot... (Below threshold)
theExecutioner:

Nicely said, but you forgot to mention #4 (you and I) and #5 (the terrorist sympathizers - Kerry, Pelosi, etc.). What #3 is going to do to #4 and #5 after #1 leaves and they defeat #2 was most preventable. But now that #5 is in the drivers seat, it's inevitable. And once #3 does respond to the actions of the #5 C&Rs (cut and runners), #5 won't be able to say "I told you so" anymore because #4 will all be dead. Which leaves no one for #5 to blame. However, #5 won't be able to blame anyone anyway as they will be extinct too.

A large part of the problem... (Below threshold)
GeminiChuck:

A large part of the problem of ignorance with respect to politics and the West vs. Islamo-fascism war can STILL be laid at the doorstep of the MSM. Too many millions of Americans get their information from at best 10 minutes of national/world political affairs reporting on the liberal evening news or from their liberal local city newspaper. Thus, everything Pres Bush does is bad, the economy is bad, the war is a disaster . . . its a wonder that Republicans ever win anything any more. (Thank God for talk radio and the Internet!)

GC

Did I read somewhere that t... (Below threshold)
audrey:

Did I read somewhere that the PM of Iraq recently said that a UN security resolution stipulates that we can't leave until the country is secure? Anybody see that?

audrey, no one listens to t... (Below threshold)
theExecutioner:

audrey, no one listens to the UN, not even the UN.

I disagree that this electi... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

I disagree that this election cycle is a true ideological barometer of the public.

The Republicans were punished, more for their execution and actual goals than for the ideology traditionally attributed to them.

Well said jay tea.... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

Well said jay tea.

"start with the person or p... (Below threshold)
jp2:

"start with the person or persons who actually committed the action before you start blaming others for not stopping it. "

Agreed, but I like to place blame on enablers too. Like Reagan, funding bin Laden.

"I like to place blame on e... (Below threshold)

"I like to place blame on enablers too."

Like Democrats having the same goal for the outcome of the war as the terrorists and using the same talking points. And the media which embargoed any mention of that phenomenon.

Laura, that's gonna leave a... (Below threshold)

Laura, that's gonna leave a mark...

J.

jp2,It was a bad d... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

jp2,

It was a bad decision in hindsight by Reagan. At the time, remember we were at the end of the Cold War and were trying to help Afghanistan to expel the Russians.

jp2 doesn't care about all ... (Below threshold)
theExecutioner:

jp2 doesn't care about all the facts. Just the half-truths that support his claims.

I'm betting that he's not an American. Lee maybe?

Reagan funded the Afghan re... (Below threshold)

Reagan funded the Afghan resistance, true. But stop the partisan hackery by omitting the fact that Jimmy Carter started funding them 6 months before the Soviets even invaded.

Were either of them wrong? Only in hindsight can one make an argument that it was a mistake.

A severe error in argument ... (Below threshold)

A severe error in argument given in this blog post is the assumption that a withdrawal of US troops would not change dynamics on the ground.

This can't be true -- more than half the population of Iraq supports attacks against US troops. Baghdad residents want an immediate withdrawal, saying it would improve conditions.

Shouldn't it be their decision whether or not to be occupied by a foreign military?

Furthermore, people want a functional Iraqi government. They say this is integral to stability. This can't happen so long as Iraq is occupied by a foreign military, because the Iraqi government is not sovereign. In July 2006, Iraq even had to ask -- ASK! -- the UN to make US soldiers subject to Iraqi law. No sovereign government has to ask the UN to validate its laws.

These points were taken from this Iraq war timeline, see it yourself for more.

Laura, that's gonna leav... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Laura, that's gonna leave a mark...

Yeah... a skid mark, where that line of reasoning had to swerve way too far from reality to be taken seriously.

Gee, Brian, what part of th... (Below threshold)

Gee, Brian, what part of the comment do you care to dispute? It's undeniably true that Democrats are saying the same types of things that terrorists are where Iraq is concerned. When you see quotes without attribution, it's impossible to tell whether a Democrat or Hezbollah/Hamas/al Qaeda/Ahmedinejad said it.

Like this, for example. You want to dispute the comment, go ahead. But you *can't* dispute it. That's why you provided an insult instead of a substantive response.

And please note that link i... (Below threshold)

And please note that link is from 10/01/2006. It's gotten worse since the election.

I get so aggravated when I ... (Below threshold)
FormerHostage:

I get so aggravated when I hear someone spout off about how the war is a failure and a quagmire. Just the simple fact that so many in-country are re-enlisting should show how (relatively) well things are going and how much the average troop believes in both the mission and their success.

Yes, active duty personnel cannot stand on a soap box and shout to the heavens, BUT...they can write letters. I wonder what would happen if Joe Lieberman started getting hundreds of letters from active duty soldiers and Marines expressing their concerns and fears of the direction the Senate will be taking and ask that he caucus with Republicans to force a 50-50 power share split? He was elected as a not anti-war Independent so it wouldn't really hurt his political career and he'd vote his conscience anyway.

By the way, it's illegal for officers and NCO's to sit their men down and tell them to write a letter, but, there's no rule that keeps service members, as individual citizens, from writing to Senator Joe Lieberman at...

One Constitution Plaza
7th Floor
Hartford, CT 06103

...or...

706 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

...to congratulate him on his victory (and express those concerns mentioned above).




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