Friday, November 18, 2005

# Posted 7:56 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WHO IS JOHN MURTHA? The top headline in this morning's WaPo reads "Hawkish Democrat Joins Call for Pullout." It doesn't say "Rep. John Murtha Joins Call for Pullout" because even those who read the paper every day probably have no idea who he is. So who is this unknown man whose change of heart is the biggest news of the day? I think Rod Dreher at NRO provides a pretty good answer:
Don't know how many of you caught Rep. John Murtha's very angry, very moving speech just now in which he called on the White House to institute an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. CNN didn't air the entire thing, but as I listened to it, I could feel the ground shift. Murtha, as you know, is not a Pelosi-style Chardonnay Democrat; he's a crusty retired career Marine who reminds me of the kinds of beer-slugging Democrats we used to have before the cultural left took over the party. Murtha, a conservative Dem who voted for the war, talked in detail about the sacrifices being borne by our soldiers and their families, and about his visits out to Walter Reed to look after the maimed, and how we've had enough, it's time to come home...

I'm sure there's going to be an anti-Murtha pile-on in the conservative blogosphere, but from where I sit, conservatives would be fools not to take this man seriously. (Hat tip: KD)
It would seem that conservatives aren't exactly following Dreher's advice, since
Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) declared: "Murtha and Democratic leaders have adopted a policy of cut and run. They would prefer that the United States surrender to the terrorists who would harm innocent Americans. To add insult to injury, this is done while the president is on foreign soil."
That's low. There is a case to be made on the merits and that certainly isn't it. First and foremost, Murtha and others who want to withdraw have no good ideas for how to prevent a post-withdrawal Iraq from becoming another pre-9/11 Afghanistan. Murtha said that
All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free. Free from United States occupation. I believe this will send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process for the good of a “free” Iraq.
Absolutely not. The signal that our withdrawal will send is that terrorists can defeat a superpower. That is the signal we sent when we withdrew from Lebanon in 1983. That is the signal we sent when we withdrew from Somalia in 1993. This time, nothing will change.

And if terrorists -- Al Qaeda or Ba'athist -- can defeat a superpower, what possible incentive will they have to come to terms with the unprepared Iraqi army we have left behind?

Which brings is to an ethical question: What about our obligation to the people of Iraq? It would be nothing short of cruel to liberate them from Saddam only to abandon them now. Remember, they are also sacrificing their sons and daughters every day for the cause.

The Shi'ites and Kurds -- the overwhelming majority of the people of Iraq -- share our vision of Iraq's democratic future. That is the foundation of victory.
(2) opinions -- Add your opinion

While I agree with you in sentiment, the tragic reality is that the democracy you envision will require us to stay in Iraq for 10-20 years. The only way to do this is to get the UN and a ton of NGOs in, and flood the country with Western human capital. And we can't do that until Iraq stops being such a bloody place to work. Nor is it likely that the Bush administration is capable of the type of diplomacy to get the kind of international help that will be needed.

It's easy for me to say we should stay the course and pray things work out. But it would be much harder to justify that decision if I were advising a son to join the military for such a risky endeavor.
A couple of things. First, you didn't mention the most salient parallel--that is the pullout of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. After all, that is where so much of al Qaeda got its feet wet.

Also, I agree with Nate in that I think the Bush administration is completely incapable of producing a successful Iraq strategy. Especially not with Rumsfeld and Cheney in charge.
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