This heartlessness of the withdrawal argument responds to multiple needs that are largely unrelated to Iraq. It comforts the sensibilities of opinion-makers who have a distaste for this administration's foreign policy and so don't seem to feel much stake in its human consequences. It testifies to the consistency of those who, having opposed sending U.S. forces to Iraq in the first place, see nothing problematic about pulling them out today. And it offers assurance that, but for the bungled U.S. occupation, Iraq can only be better off. No one has espoused this last view more vigorously than Democratic Representative John Murtha. His summary of the situation in Iraq amounts to this: We are the problem.Murtha has been a virtual one-man doom-and-gloom parade, seeing nothing positive in winning. In fact, as far as I can tell, I don't know that he's recently thought that this war was winnable. Actually, history tells us that Mr. Murtha has been willing to spend money on the military but has been unwilling to see missions through to completion.
Facts on the ground suggest Murtha has things exactly backward. (Beware of congressmen who boast of special insights gleaned during trips to Iraq. They seldom venture outside the constellation of U.S. bases, and, even then, their visits can last no longer than 48 hours.)
Murtha advised Clinton that "There's no military solution. Some of them will tell you [that] to get [warlord Mohamed Farrah] Aidid is the solution. I don't agree with that." Now he's saying that "Our military has done everything that has been asked of them. The U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily."
Murtha's doom-and-gloom attitude has gotten annoying. Worse, it's dangerous because leaving Iraq before we finish the job most likely means that Iran shovels a ton of money into Muqtada al-Sadr's direction to foment sectarian violence. Reasonable people can disagree on how to fight the Iraq war. Reasonable people can't agree that toppling Saddam's regime wasn't worthwhile.
Earlier this year at his home near the Syrian border, Abdullah Al Yawar, a Sunni sheik in Nineveh province, warned me that "if the Americans leave, there will be rivers of blood." Hundreds of miles to the east in Baghdad, Sheikh Humam Hamoudi, one of Iraq's most powerful Shia, echoed the fear of his Sunni counterpart: Without the Americans, he said, Baghdad will become another Beirut.Murtha is famous for citing the poll that says sixty percent of Iraqis want us out. That seems more like propaganda than polling based on al-Yawar's and Hamoudi's quotes. Unfortunately, that's what we've come to expect from Murtha. He doesn't seem to understand that the blogosphere will cite him when he says something absurd. He seems to think that the Beltway press is the only game in town. That will be his undoing.
Technorati: Murtha, Iraq War, Anti-War Democrats
Cross-posted at California Conservative