Thursday, January 13, 2005

Beating ourselves up.

Enduring the media barrage of negativity and cutting through the spin to find the truth is tiring. Constant conversations with my fellow Soldiers, family, and other bloggers reveal widespread misunderstanding of not only the purposes for which we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also a skewed perception of how the fight is progressing. These elements combine to erode morale, weaken resolve, and, if left unchecked, will ultimately defeat the US Military - a feat unachievable by any other means.

Especially disheartening was an article on Congressman Howard Coble's recently revised views on Iraq:

Coble claims to be "fed up with picking up the newspaper and reading that we've lost another five or 10 of our young men and women in Iraq."

His reaction? "All I'm saying is that a troop withdrawal ought to be an option. It ought to be placed on the table for consideration."

"They [his constituents] believe we were right to go there, and they strongly support our troops," he said, "but they are getting increasingly tired of our young men and women getting killed every day."

"We got rid of Saddam the snake. Now it's time to let the Iraqis take care of the snake pit."

I also am tired of our young men and women getting killed every day. (By the way, those men and women include many of my best friends.) I'm tired of waking up to mortar fire. I'm tired of IEDs and incessant small arms fire. I'm tired of carrying an M16 everywhere I go, eating Army food, and working 80-hour weeks. In fact, after 350 days, I'm tired of being in Baghdad.

You know what else I'm tired of? I'm tired of jihadists who have determined that this world is not big enough for them and me, and I'm certainly tired of leaving our country susceptible to terrorist attacks aimed at killing myself and my family.

I believe we will prevail in the war on Islamofacism, but it's nice to read a well-researched and expertly written piece like Norman Podhoretz's "The War Against World War IV" to see that others agree with me.

He is an advocate of the Bush doctrine, and he makes the case that most Americans are too.

He points out how Iraq was never just about WMD:

Not only did the failure to find them [WMD] severely injure the case for invading Iraq; perhaps even more injurious was that the emphasis on WMD obscured the long-range strategic rationale for the invasion. For while the immediate objective was indeed to disarm Saddam Hussein, the larger one was to press on with "draining the swamps"—whether created by religious despots, as in Afghanistan, or by secular tyrants, as in Iraq—that were in Bush’s view the breeding-grounds of terrorism in the greater Middle East. Nor could those swamps be drained only by strong-arming the regimes under which they had been festering. It was also necessary in this view to replace these regimes with elected governments that would work to fulfill the hopes of "the peoples of the Islamic nations [who] who want and deserve the same freedoms and opportunities as people in every nation."

He argues that our President knew exactly what he was getting us into:

[H]e [Bush] remained calmly impervious to the objection that pursuing his new doctrine of democratization would destabilize the region (maddeningly, he even responded that this was exactly what he wanted to do) and would also increase rather than lessen the danger of terrorism.

He knows how we can be defeated:

Instead of taking to the streets, the realists and the liberal internationalists will go back to their word processors and redouble their ongoing efforts to turn public opinion against the Bush Doctrine. Mainly they will try to do so by demonstrating over and over again that the doctrine is already failing its first great encounter with "hard reality" in Iraq.

He demonstrates the hard-headedness of those who predict failure of a representative government in Iraq without even acknowledging the success of Afghanistan's election:

[I]t [success in Afghanistan] has been either denigrated or sent down the memory hole.

Not, however, by Hamid Karzai himself, who had the following largely unreported words to say on "graduation day":

"Whatever we have achieved in Afghanistan—the peace, the election, the reconstruction, the life that the Afghans are living today in peace, the children going to school, the businesses, the fact that Afghanistan is again a respected member of the international community—is from the help that the United States of America gave us. Without that help Afghanistan would be in the hands of terrorists—destroyed, poverty-stricken, and without its children going to school or getting an education. We are very, very grateful, to put it in the simple words that we know, to the people of the United States of America for bringing us this day."

Unlike many others, he maintains historical perspective:

During World War II there was scarcely any defeatist sentiment in the air, not even in response to actual defeats—and we suffered many, especially in the early years. Nor was there a fixation on the mistakes made by Roosevelt and Churchill—and, great men though they indubitably were, they made many. What is more, some of their mistakes were so large and consequential that by comparison those of which Bush and Rumsfeld stand accused seem insignificant, even if we stipulate for the sake of argument that the critics of today are right on every single point.

He concludes:

I think (to say it one last time) that the amazing leader this President has amazingly turned out to be will—like the comparably amazing Harry Truman before him when he took on the Communist world—have the wind at his back as he continues the struggle against Islamist radicalism and its vicious terrorist armory: a struggle whose objective is the spread of liberty and whose success will bring greater security and greater prosperity not only to the people of this country, and not only to the people of the greater Middle East, but also to the people of Europe and beyond, in spite of the sorry fact that so many of them do not wish to know it yet.

I think (and hope) that Podhoretz is right.

I'm tired too, Mr. Coble, but so were US Soldiers at Valley Forge, Bastogne, and countless other battlefields of history, and I'm sure glad they didn't cut and run.

(hat tips to Powerline for the Podhoretz piece, and Joy Ridge for the Coble article)