Tough and forthright Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha recently told the truth about United States involvement in Iraq and for that good service was bombarded by vitriol from Republicans and the stampeding feet of retreating fellow Democrats. Evidently, most leading Democrats in congress either agree with the current fight-fight-damn-the-consequences policy of President George W. Bush or are too timid to put forth substantive alternatives; they thus follow the piper, saying “Baah, baah, I’m going to cover my ass at the polls first and last and in between too.”
Ironically, the nation yearns for a bold and different Democrat who will offer a plan heretofore missing from the sound bites of early-campaigning presidential candidates for 2008. Murtha, a decorated veteran of combat in both the Korean War and war in Vietnam, has done their duty, charging out of the political foxhole and on CNN stating what is likely to soon become United States policy in Iraq: the insurgents cannot be destroyed militarily; they must be defeated politically; political victory is impossible when “liberating” troops are seen as occupiers and are evermore the targets of bombs; in fact, there will be “less terrorism” when U.S. troops are redeployed; redeployment means keeping some forces in the area, in Kuwait, for example, as well as on nearby ships so they can strike if needed; there’s been far too much unnecessary striking that has “shattered” communities and “pushed people out” and made more enemies and left sixty percent unemployed and been part of the reason “oil production, electricity, and the water supply (are) flat” and not on the verge of rebounding; “we’re going to get out, there’s no question about it;” most will be out by the U.S. elections in 2006.
Presidency-seeking Senators Hillary Clinton and Joseph Biden are far more patient. Biden advocates taking out about a third of the troops next year and another third in 2007. Clinton has been less specific while parroting often aggressive rhetoric that’s helped change the perception of her from liberal Democrat to moderate Republican. Biden also qualifies for that designation as does Senator John Kerry, though he is the most vigorous among major candidates in demanding the administration offer a plan more detailed than “don’t cut and run.” Meanwhile, during the administration of this Bush, Republicans have moved so far right they need to rename their party. However these strategizing politicians decide to characterize themselves, they should remember that two more years of Bush’s “staying the course” in Iraq will likely result in about two thousand more American deaths, thousands more casualties, and – too rarely talked about – tens of thousands of Iraqi casualties, many of them civilians.
The veteran warrior Murtha, who unfortunately is a little too old and much too honest to run for president, offered this assessment of what continuing U.S. policy would mean: “The Iraqis will let us fight forever. We have to make them take over their own country.”