What is interesting is that there are folks who have to await John McCain to reinforce that staying the course is the right and moral thing to do. The facts more than support the cause for going into Iraq, and that hasn't changed - WMD included.
One would be wise to create a Venn diagram to keep all the seemingly disparate pieces in order. Able Danger, Plame, WMD, UNSCAM, Iraq, terrorism, 9/11, al Qaeda, and Osama bin Laden all affect how and why we're in the position we're in right now. These issues are related to each other, and there is some overlap between some issues, and others tightly related.
In fact, we're learning more about the relationship between Able Danger and 9/11 each day, despite the fact that we should have learned of this information through the 9/11 Commission's Report. The failure of the Commission to do its statutory duty is a shortcoming that should be investigated in time. The more important details are those that relate to the national security picture that the Administration operates with. Was the intel flawed.
There has been a steady stream of information about the relationship between Iraq and international terrorism, and specifically al Qaeda, but this has been discounted under the heading of "Bush says that Iraq was involved in 9/11," which not only is untrue, but Bush and the Administration never made that case. Heck, it's something that even the 9/11 Commission managed to include due to its significance:
“Similar meetings between Iraqi officials and bin Laden or his aides may have occurred in 1999 during a period of some reported strains with the Taliban. According to the [intelligence] reporting, Iraqi officials offered bin Laden a safe haven in Iraq. Bin Laden declined, apparently judging that his circumstances in Afghanistan remained more favorable than the Iraqi alternative.”Now, there are surely lots of qualifiers in the report, and our humint was quite limited on the matter, but after the 9/11 attacks, could the US take the chance that OBL wasn't going to seek refuge in a place where earlier credible reports suggested that he would go?
This doesn't mean that Iraq was involved in 9/11. It means that Iraq and Saddam would harbor terrorists, including al Qaeda (the same al Qaeda that attacked the US on 9/11 and damaged the USS Cole and killed more than 200 people at the US embassies in Africa). And that threat required a response, since the linkage between state actors and terrorist groups would enhance the ability of both - in terms of material support (al Qaeda's need) and plausible deniability (Iraq's need).
Now, throw in the fact that the UN had been essentially bought off through the UNSCAM (oil for food scandal). We've seen numerous indictments come down, and several plea deals already among businessmen and diplomats. The circle of those under investigation keeps widening, though those at the top remain under a cloud of suspicion (here's looking at you Kofi and Benan).
Concurrent with all this other stuff, you get Joe Wilson sent to Africa to investigate whether Iraq was seeking nuclear materials. Now, Iraq was prohibited from doing this under the 1991 cease fire agreement - and any violation would be cause for a resumption of hostilities. There are serious questions that have gone unanswered as to how and why Wilson was chosen for this assignment by the CIA and all roads lead back to Wilson's wife who worked at the CIA. Media reporting of her position at CIA and that she may have been involved in the trip led to the Fitzgerald investigation, and the Libby indictments (which in and of themselves are unrelated to the original charges of outing an agent).
Media pundits keep frothing about the importance of the Plame investigation, but this seems to be minor peanuts compared with the key information - why would Wilson be directed to go and investigate this crucial information.
So, we now come back to the present and calls from the Left to abandon ship, tuck tail and run, and to give up on the endeavor in Iraq and the Middle East. Hogwash.
I don't pretend that all has gone well with the reconstruction of Iraq. But I also don't pretend that things will get better if we leave early. In fact, they will get far worse.We have prior examples in history to show this to be true: Vietnam. The US departure, and subsequent withdrawal of aid to the South Vietnamese led to the collapse of the South in 1975, mass killings, and the Vietnamese boat lift. More than 2 million people were displaced, and hundreds of thousands killed in the turmoil. If there's a lesson to be drawn from Vietnam it should be to make sure that you stay til the job is done. Last time I checked, we're still in Germany, Japan, and outposts throughout the world that were forged during and after World War II.
Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) stated:
"It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region,"What exactly is in the best interest of the US, Murtha does not say. Withdrawing from Iraq at this juncture certainly isn't in the best intersts of the overwhelming majority of Iraqis. Who would benefit from such a withdrawal? Not the Shi'a? Not the Kurds? Not even most of the Sunnis.
Jihadis would benefit. Anarchists and Ba'athist remnants who are loyal to Saddam would surely benefit. Iran benefits tremendously, as would Syria. How would any of that benefit the US?
The simple answer is that it doesn't. It can't. Nature abhors a vacuum and the US withdrawal would mean that enemies to the US would benefit from inhabiting the areas that we are leaving.
Rep. Murtha has served in the military, and some of his criticisms of Cheney are directed at his lack of military service. Last time I checked, military service is not a prerequisite of leading this nation into war, or being a member of Congress, let alone the President or Vice President. I refuse to disparage Murtha's service, but his 'chickenhawk' based arguments are empty in that they do not address the substantive position that he has now taken.
Meanwhile, Harry Reid says that we need a commander in chief and not a campaigner in chief. Sorry, but I'm sorry to say that FDR would be hit with that smear as well. So would Harry Truman and LBJ. Sometimes defending the decision to go to war means reminding people of the facts, and the Democrats have decided that they are going to define the terms of this political battle - such that they're going to call any defense of the war on the part of the Administration as campaigning, whereas the Democrats are simply doing the morally upright thing. Again. Hogwash.
However, the fact that a former supporter of the war is coming out against it is troubling. One can only surmise the reasoning behind the 180. It isn't the facts on the ground since the situation is gradually improving and reports from the ground are mostly positive (despite what the media focuses on).
It's purely political theater on the part of the Democrats and it does have real-world consequences in the field. al Qaeda and the other jihadis worldwide are watching the media intently to see who wins this domestic political battle, since it will have an effect on the battlefield in Iraq. For if the Democrats have their way, the Iraqi battlefield will be ceded to the terrorists in short order.
Kevin Drum seems to think that the December election will be the way for the Adminstration to back out of Iraq in short order and that Murtha was privy to information that the situation in Iraq is far worse than we're being led to believe by the Administration. Well, if you're already predisposed to believing that the Administration was wrong, this about face is par for the course. Drum also makes the following political observation:
The public is looking for answers, not administration attack dogs on the evening news every day, but this particular White House doesn't know any other way. It's going to cost them.I disagree. There are those in the GOP who will be bolstered by the fact that the Administration is really starting to do the heavy lifting that it should have done all along to make the continuing and ongoing case for US involvment in Iraq - and making sure that the Left couldn't revise history without consequences of their own. While it may be too late for the Administration to turn things around politically at home, the 2006 elections are still a year out.
A lot can change between now and then.
A lot is being made out of Rep. Murtha's statements made earlier today. Problem is that history suggests that Murtha isn't exactly the staunchest supporter of the war in Iraq. In fact, he's actually called this war unwinnable. That extraordinary statement was made May 10, 2004. And Republicans assailed his comments just as quickly as they did today:
A pro-military Democratic congressman's description of the war in Iraq as "unwinnable" unless changes are made sparked anger in House Republicans Thursday.What people don't quite realize is that a person can be pro-military and still be anti-war. Murtha is anti-war, and hasn't changed his position one bit in over a year. The only difference is Murtha is capitalizing on the added coverage due to Bush's pushback to reair his earlier sentiment. That's not a change in position. It's a reassertion of old news.
Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, in a news conference with Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said the problems in Iraq are due to a "lack of planning" by Pentagon chiefs and "the direction has got be changed or it is unwinnable."
Republicans seized on that word, ignoring Murtha's overall point: that more troops and equipment should be sent to Iraq.
Also commenting on this story: Lorie Byrd, Instapundit, who also notes the 2004 statements by Murtha and wonders how Murtha could be considered a Democratic hawk, Hugh Hewitt, Don Surber, Mudville Gazette, Sister Toldjah (still one of the coolest pseudnyms online), Big Lizards, Confederate Yankee, California Conservative, The Political Teen, Joust the Facts, Basil's Blog, The Moderate Voice (who comments on sagging poll numbers), and Donklephant.