Sunday, November 20, 2005

# Posted 2:02 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

ALL MURTHA ALL THE TIME: Forgive me for beating a dead horse, but I am extraordinarily frustrated by the way that almost every major media outlet is spinning Murtha's "conversion" as a major blow to the war effort.

Anyhow, all I want to in this post is take a somewhat closer look at what Murtha said in an interview with CNN (Hat tip: GP) in May 2004, shortly after he first described the war as "unwinnable". Here goes:

MURTHA: But if you listen to what Shinseki said, we needed several hundred thousand. And then Wolfowitz said, Secretary Wolfowitz said, we only need 30,000 and the oil is going to pay for it. Now, these young people over there fighting deserve better than that. They deserve a plan not based on what we have available, but based on the need in the war. And that's not what we're planning to.

[LOU] DOBBS: Some may not be entirely aware that you are one of the strongest, stalwart supporters of our troops, of our military in Congress, in either house of Congress.

But can we realistically -- and this is a huge issue I know that you've also struggled with -- in the war against terror, against the impact it would have not only in Iraq, but throughout the Middle East, is withdrawal of U.S. force from Iraq a truly viable choice?

MURTHA: Well, let me put it this way. We can struggle along with the number of people we have...We've spent $200 billion in this fight in Iraq and it wasn't supposed to cost us anything. So when you say, it is realistic to pull out? It would be an international disaster I think if we pulled out. But the alternative is, we're going to struggle along, get more and more young people killed...

DOBBS: Congressman, as you talked about this and you used the expression, we're fighting this war on the cheap. $200 billion, estimated $60 billion just for current military operations in Iraq alone per year. It's hardly on the cheap. You're also talking, as General Shinseki advised, really tripling the number of U.S. troops as the first choice that you would make, tripling it which one would assume would triple the cost. At some point doesn't someone in Congress or this White House or this Pentagon, somewhere in Washington have to understand that we are embarked upon an absolutely mindless ratio of expenses to a result, and that we have to come up with new strategies? Is there anyone in the Pentagon, is there anyone in the White House, to your knowledge, and Congress trying to bring costs and effective results into line?

MURTHA: Well, I keep telling them, you have to be more realistic about our goals...

DOBBS: Congressman, let me ask you this. Directly as you possibly can. Is it time, in your judgment, for the United States to leave Iraq?

MURTHA: Well, it would be disastrous if we were to leave under those circumstances without making every effort... Lou, you have to go back to the original planning. You have to look at there should have been a couple hundred thousand people. They said you only need 30,000 people. You have to look at not having enough people. That's the first plan...

DOBBS: Excuse me, Congressman. I hate to interrupt. We're really out of time. Let me ask you for a short, straightforward statement. You've offered two choices, in your judgment. Either increase troops or get out. Which is your preferred policy choice?

MURTHA: My preferred case is to increase the number of troops and provide the military security, which will give us a chance that Iraq could become an independent country and move on from the war that we've been involved in.

At first glance, one might say this excerpt vindicates the media's decision to cover Murtha's conversion as a major change of heart. After all, what Murtha is calling for here -- an extraordinary increase in US manpower -- is the polar opposite of withdrawal.

But on the other hand, Murtha seems to recognize that this kind of increase in manpower is simply impossible. Thus, the real choice to be had is between withdrawal -- an "international disaster" -- and "struggl[ing] along, get[ting] more and more young people killed.

But what is the point of struggling along in an unwinnable war with mounting casualties? Murtha's logic clearly points to withdrawal as the least-worst option. But he wasn't ready to say it in May 2004, so he kept his options open by going on record in favor of the impossible option, a Shinseki-style occupation.

So, yes, one can argue that Murtha's decision to call for a withdrawal is news. But it is hardly a revelation.
(4) opinions -- Add your opinion

Keep it up. I was watching Murtha on the second run of MTP tonight and he was full of indignation that the Bush administration had betrayed him, yadda yadda. He's milking the media's spin for everything its worth.

He was just pulling the "The first Bush knew not to go into Iraq, etc." The fact is, he should have. Momentum was going our way, Iraqis were rising up against Saddam both north and south of Baghdad, but guess what held us back? That gigantically large coalition of states that didn't really play much of a role in the actual fighting yet was (and still is) supposedly symbolic of the foreign policy wisdom of Bush/Scowcroft.
Let me get this straight. You're "extraordinarily frustrated" that the media is "spinning" Murtha as a pro-war Democrat who changed his mind. And the reason this is spin is because even though last year Murtha called for an increase in US manpower, he didn't really mean it. Well, I think you frustrate too easily.
Don't confuse the media with the facts. All wars are Vietnam, and in this Vietnam replay, it's time to cast the Cronkite role. Murtha has been chosen as the trustworthy, seasoned warrior who according to the script must now reluctantly conclude the war is a lost cause, giving the whole nation a chance to re-assess.

There must be a Cronkite, and any facts that get in the way of that will be ignored.
The facts are even more damning than David explains. Murtha called the war unwinable in September 2003. And so, the media is even more deceptive than claimed here.

The day of Murtha's pronouncement this past week, the hourly syndicated radio news (ABC?) trumpeted the stunning turnaround as the lede item for several hours. Right.

I smelt a fish right away. They believe we're so gullable - and to read the polls over the past calendar year, they might be right.
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