Friday, September 07, 2007

The future of Iraq, and the past

It's September, which will be a big month for the future of Iraq, and the US mission there. The commander of US forces, GEN Petraeus, will deliver a Congressionally ordered progress report and answer their questions.

Most of the major anti-war groups have scheduled a series of protests and rallies, along with TV and radio commercials. This is par for the course for liberal groups.

But, in what has to be an unprecedented outpouring of support for the mission, dozens of pro-mission groups are also planning events. There are many theories for why liberals are more likely to attend protests and rallies than do conservatives. But whatever the reason, it is heartening to see so many people who support the war on terror speaking out to make sure we stay in the fight.

Liberal talking points against the war (after they get through their hatred of President Bush) invariably include a list of the mistakes made in the waging of the war in Iraq. They seem not to understand that many conservatives and many veterans of the war can admit that indeed, mistakes have been made. Hindsight is of course, 20/20. But some things can be easily seen with the benefits of time. There was no large scale WMD program, and that speaks poorly of our war intel. Bin Laden may or may not have been actively collaborating with the Iraqi military. Dissolving the Iraqi army outright may have sent trained soldiers into the arms of the insurgency. In the effort to make use of our high tech weapons and minimize the number of soldiers involved in ground combat, we may have committed too few troops to do the job.
All of these are valid arguments, though I don't think any of them reflect on incompetence in the military or the White House, rather (in my opinion) they were choices made with high hopes for the best possible outcome.

Among all the possible mistakes or miscues that account for the length of the war in Iraq, there is one that is blindingly obvious that I have yet to hear anyone mention.

How much responsibility do the liberal Democrats bear for lengthening the war and costing American lives?

To make my point, I am going to fall back on my favorite analogy to war--football.

Imagine, as my favorite Vikings open the season this weekend with the Atlanta Falcons, that the Vikings cheerleaders come out with buttons that say 'Make Love not War" and "Women Against Football Madness".

The Vikings owners and executive staff are steadfast in their support for the importance of winning. But some members of the coaching staff have anonymously leaked to the media their doubts about the ability of only 55 men to overcome the opposition. Some have even wondered about the moral imperative of 'winning'; after all the Falcons players are just innocent pawns in this struggle, why do they deserve to 'lose'?

Initially, the game goes well. The Falcon's defense is no match for the awesome firepower of the Vikings offense. Shock and awe paves the way for a quick Falcon's collapse. But the Falcon's regroup, and begin a series of long pass plays and razzle dazzle trick plays. Though they gain little from the effort in the end, the result is that the crowd itself begins to waver. Sure, we're winning, they reason, but look at that spectacular 40 yard double reverse!

The half-time show features a majority of the coaches calling for a retreat to Vikings territory. The risk of injuries to our players is too high, they say. They announce that they have coordinated with the payroll department of the Vikings front office to withhold pay for the second half unless all players are withdrawn to behind the 50 yard line. The head coach holds firm, and the pay will run through the 3rd quarter, as long as the head coach can demonstrate that he is making progress toward winning.

Halfway into the 3rd quarter, 60 people in the front few rows stage an 'injury in', where they lie on the ground, hold their legs in faux pain, and hobble off the field. The Falcons continue to have spectacular plays for little or no gain, but the commentators show the replays and talk about the Falcon's willingness to sacrifice themselves.

This is of course, a bit to the extreme with the analogy. But my point here is to put yourselves in the shoes of the Vikings players. With all the distractions, all the drama, how can you blame them for not being able to concentrate on 3rd and long with man coverage. And how can you not see the Falcons players feeding on the crisis of their opposition, keeping their hope alive that the Vikings might just retreat off the field.

Now think of all of us soldiers, sweating through 140 degree heat , the scorpions and the flies, worried about bullets, IED's and our families at home. 20 hour days, bland food, and about as much privacy as a naked man in Times Square on New Year's Eve. On top of all that is the steady stream of poison coming from politicians and celebrities back home. 'The war is lost'. 'Bush lied, kids died'. 'Marines slaughter dozens at Haditha'. 'The Wild West Anbar is beyond hope'. 'US Troops terrorize Iraqi kids in the night'.

So my question is this. If the whole country had stood behind the war effort from the get go, and had continued to support us along the way, isn't it reasonable to think that we may have been so much farther ahead by now? Without the left's continued encouragement that the end is near, would AQI have folded up shop by now? Without the Congressional delegation visits to countries actively opposing our efforts in Iraq, might they have not been less bold in supporting the terrorists?

Conservatives have long talked about the political consequences of a US military victory in Iraq for the liberal anti-war Congressional caucus. But have we yet talked about the moral consequences of advocating against a war which is crucial to the larger war on terror? Have we talked about the blame to be laid at the Democrat's feet for drawing out the war, which results in more US casualties?

This is the first game of a long season. If we can't hold together for the first game, then it is no wonder that our opponents are salivating at the thought of the next battle?

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