Friday, November 18, 2005
Let me just get that quote out of the way now. No doubt we'll be hearing lots of it in weeks and months to come, now that the call to withdraw unconditionally from Iraq has metastasized.
I'm not sure that I have anything new to say about this; Michelle Malkin and Hugh Hewitt and Gateway Pundit and Mudville Gazette and many others have written about it at length. But I want to make it clear where I stand, whether my words are original or not. It may not matter to the billions of people who have never read my writing, and never will. But it matters to me.
Congressman John Murtha has openly adopted the fever-swamp rhetoric, and is now calling in open session for the United States to abandon Iraq and bring the troops home. Many are no doubt hearing his words and thinking it's a good idea, not seeing this for the catastrophe it is.
And it's being reported overseas, which hurts our credibility tremendously.
Forgive me if I belabor the obvious; to me, this just seems obvious --
You don't give up the fight. Not against a determined enemy, not while there's fight left in you. You simply don't do that, ever.
The reason is simple: when you walk away from a fight in progress, you surrender. You then condemn yourself to fight again, on a different day, under circumstances of your enemy's choosing.
Do we really want that? Do we want the terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere to learn that, if they set off enough bombs, they can make the United States back away from any commitment? Do we really want them to believe that our military is useless against them, because we will cease to use it when we get tired of it?
More to the point: do we really want the terrorists to become emboldened by their victory -- for victory it will be for them if we withdraw, make no mistake -- and try their attacks again on American soil? Do we really want to have to re-launch the War on Terror again, with no clear target in sight?
Do we want to abandon our allies in Iraq, who are trusting us with their lives -- and who have demonstrated, repeatedly, that this Iraqi experiment in democracy is one for which they are willing to die? We abandoned them once before, remember, in the aftermath of the Gulf War in 1991. How dare we even contemplate abandoning them again?
Let me be absolutely clear on where I stand. I do not want a permanent American presence in Iraq; I want our troops to stay there as long as is necessary to get the job done, and to return home just as soon as they're no longer needed. That, for me, will be when it is indisputably clear that the Iraqis can fight terror on their own, as well (or almost as well) as they could do with our help.
But for all of the high-speed progress the Iraqis have made -- from a collapsing dictatorship to a Constitution and parliamentary elections in two and a half years -- they are not ready to stand without us yet. And it would be both folly of the worst sort, and immoral in the extreme, for us to abandon our commitments, to them and to ourselves, before they are ready.
Something I'm seeing these days that I find hard to believe, and harder to understand, is that this just doesn't get through to some people. They hear arguments about the need to fight the fights worth fighting, and they say "Jingoism". They hear President Bush speaking to the troops, and they dismiss it as a "pep talk".
Or take this exchange, which I just saw over at the Indepundit:
Within living memory, we have seen what happens when America abandons its national commitments, and deserts the brave people who stood tall and believed its promises. The faint-hearted and the wavering painted our commitment to the people of Indochina as a cause in itself of the bloodshed and grief there — and then stood mute when they achieved their objective, forced America’s retreat, and years of genocide followed in its wake.To which a commenter responded:
A generation later, they’re trying to do the same in Iraq. For the sake of an Iraqi people only now grasping the responsibilities, perils, and blessings of liberty, we cannot let them force America to shrink from the awesome responsibility it has shouldered. For the sake of American honor — and those who have died in this cause — we cannot repeat the mistakes of 1991, when the cost of our reluctance was counted in Kurdish and Shi’a dead.
This is not a partisan issue. This is not a left- or right-wing issue. This is an American and Iraqi issue, and all men of good faith must now come together to remind our leadership that whatever our politics, and whatever we thought of the decision to go to war, there can be only one end:
Are you sure the MANIFESTO isn't a parody? Nobody writes prose that bad with serious intent.To which I can only think: brother, all you can think of is the prose? You're throwing away the package and critiquing the box it came in.
Read the wartime speeches of Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. Read the inaugural addresses of Abraham Lincoln. You'll find that the manifesto above wouldn't look out of place there.
And if we don't recognize that sort of speech today -- or the need for it -- then that does not speak well for us.
Let's counter the words of aging ex-Marine Murtha, who seems to have learned all the wrong lessons from his service in Vietnam, with this.
Glenn Reynolds, and others, are opining that Rep. Murtha is simply trying to claim credit, in advance, for the inevitable reductions in troop levels next year (which will happen if our troops in Iraq continue to do as well as they've been doing). Presumably this is part of an effort to get re-elected in 2006. If so, it is nothing short of despicable.
We must continue to fight until the battle is won... or else, in our efforts to avoid the fight, the fight will come looking for us.
We must not give up. We must not surrender.