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expatriate's picture
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Thanks for Nothing

OK -- I"ve kept it in for almost a week hoping headlines would go elsewhere, but I gotta say it.

To all of those who voted to hand Congress to the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and John Murtha, thanks for nothing. Plans are already being drawn up for our speedy withdrawal from Iraq.

As a military member, I can understand defeat. America's fighting men and women have occasionally been chased off a battlefield by a superior foe throughout our history. But walking off the field and leaving it to the enemy because he's beaten you militarily is one thing. Giving him the field because of a lack of willpower from people in the rear who aren't even in harm's way is another.

We as a nation have disgraced those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in this cause, and betrayed those serving in uniform. What's sad is that when our emboldened enemies regroup and strike us again in greater force with higher stakes, our military will be called back to pay the price in blood while those pulling us out today sit in their easy chairs.

We in the military have been willing to make the sacrifices needed for this war. All we've asked from the rear is support. But it looks like we're about to get the rug yanked out from under us.

My military career is winding down, but I have a son and son-in-law in Iraq and four more boys growing up. I don't want them to pay the price of cowardice.

CVC
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Thanks for Nothing

Do you think the course that the President has been staying is the course to victory?

I think we can be victorious in Iraq, but not by doing what we have been doing. The Iraqis do not have desire or will to fight for freedom. They can't get along with one another. To believe that there will be democracy in Iraq is a pipe dream.

As I see it we are fighting a gentleman's war against a vicicous enemy who fights with no rules. We are putting our men and women in harms way and tying their hands to fight.

So yes, I voted against my party to send a loud message to our president that he was staying on the wrong course. Yes, I believe it is better to withdraw from Iraq now and stop our men and women from dying because there will never be democracy and victory in Iraq.

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Thanks for Nothing

expatriate:
I can tell that this topic is near and dear to your heart, and rightly so. Mine too, but not on the scale that the American men & women in the military have to endure.

Cowardice is when you run way, not being pulled away or ordered away and no person should confuse the two. Thanks to you for service to your country, and thanks to those that can no longer hear the thank yous.

CVC:
You're right too, believing there will be democracy/peace in Iraq is nothing short of a dream.
Best to all

hammer1.

expatriate's picture
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Thanks for Nothing

Democracy in Iraq isn't a pipe dream. It's a reality. They voted on a constitution and are run by a freely elected government. That government is having a hard time stopping infighting between factions that have hated each other as much as the Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, Serbs and Muslims in Yugoslavia, or Muslims and Hindus in India. And yet all of those areas have found ways to form a workable peace. If you don't think democracy is the answer in Iraq, what form of government do you think would be better? Bring back a tyrant like Saddam? How about a theocracy like Iran?

I think those who are urging a speedy withdrawal are more worried about political expediency than long-term security. The Iraqi conflict is being fueled by Islamists who detest democracy and want to establish a caliphate where the entire Muslim world is ruled by Shari'a. Bin Laden, Zawahiri, and other Islamists have all stated their goal is to win in Iraq, and then use that as a base to topple secular governments and establish Shari'a to rule from Spain to Indonesia, and from there around the world.

I agree there are things we could be doing better. But pulling out and leaving the Iraqi government to fend for themselves would be disastrous. Sure, we might feel better short term, but it would go down as a huge victory for our enemies. If in doubt, read what those same people have said about the US -- they point to Vietnam, Beirut, and Somalia as proof the US is a paper tiger that can be easily defeated through attacks on national will.

This isn't just about Iraq and Al Qaeda. Aspiring bullies in places like Iran, China, Venezuela and North Korea are all watching what we do. Meanwhile, friends in other countries may be faced with a security dilemma because they're worried we may not be there if they need us. Mark my words: if we show weakness and withdraw too abruptly with our tails between our legs, we'll be engaged in conflict in a few years that'll make Iraq look like a beach party. Pick a scenario -- Iran vs. Israel, China vs. Taiwan, rearmed Japan...all would be fueled by perceptions of US impotence. Now is not the time to bring back Neville Chamberlain or Jimmy Carter.

And oh, by the way -- check the voting records of your chosen new leaders of the House and Senate when it comes to gun control and sportsman issues. If you voted to send a message, you just handed legislative control and control of judicial appointments to the most rabid anti-gunners in Congress. Don't pick up car keys or a phone when you're drunk, and don't vote when you're angry.

CVC
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Expatriate,

I have voted in every election since I turned 18 and I take voting very seriously. It wasn't without long and serious consideration that I cast my vote and it was with a heavy heart.

I could not in good consious vote for my Republican congressman who lied about know Foley, who has done nothing since being in office, took his direction straight from God and was in lock step with Bush on staying the course in Iraq.

Yes, I want a strong America and a strong representative government, but this wave of Republicans is not doing it. Heck, Lieberman is more conservative than most of them.

I also believe in defending our country, but fighting someone else's war when they are not an ally is not my idea of defense. We should have continued our search for Bin Laden, kept the sanctions up against Iraq, but not gone to war there. Bush was only trying to finish what his father didn't. Iraq was not the threat to us that they made it out to be.

In any event, how we went about it was wrong. We should not be stuck there because now we can't respond to real threats like Iran. I hate to see our men and women being made easy targets because we have to fight a politically correct war under the constant eye of the media who is ready to hang any military man or woman who slightly violates a rule.

Expatriate, I think we want the same things. I just took a different path to get there.

expatriate's picture
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History's full of examples of the wrong people getting in power simply because they weren't "the other guy." At the end of the day, we're governed by what we vote for, not what we vote against.

I would ask that the retreat crowd stop claiming they're doing it on the military's behalf. We know better. We're not a bunch of draftees waiting for someone to bring us home. We're volunteers who want to get it done now vs fight bigger battles tomorrow.

CVC
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I stand by my vote and will live with the consequences.

You stated that you believe victory in Iraq is acheiveable - how long will it take to achieve and is staying the course the path to victory?

Really, what are we doing to win the war in Iraq? Is Iraq closer to being independent and self-sustaining today than 2 years ago? How much longer do we need to be there?

"We're not a bunch of draftees waiting for someone to bring us home"

That is not exactly true. There are military men and woman who are serving in Iraq that did not volunteer. Some were called back even after leaving the military.

Others are guard or reserve that would like to get back to their families and lives they had before the war.

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Abizaid seems to think that staying the course will bear fruit. I don't think his opinion should be taken lightly either, since he seems to deal with the nuances of iraq strategy day in day out.

Although Abizaid's strategies are not universally loved.

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CVC:
Let me break it down.

I believe victory in Iraq is achievable, if you define victory as Iraqis regaining control of their country. I don't think anyone can say how long that'll take, but part of the problem is external support for the insurgents. The term "stay the course" has been twisted to insinuate we shouldn't change a thing. No military person will ever advocate refusal to adapt to changing battlefield conditions. "Stay the course" means to stay committed, adapt as necessary, and keep taking the fight to the enemy. I much prefer that to unilateral withdrawal. I'd rather have the aspiring despots of the world fear us than think we're a bunch of pansies they can steamroll.

And by the way, don't assume we're putting less effort into finding Bin Laden because the media has spent less effort covering it. We've never let up; believe me, I've been there.

Is Iraq closer to independence and sustainability than they were two years ago? Yes. They have a constitution and a freely-elected government -- neither of which existed two years ago. Two years ago, there were only a handful of combat-ready Iraqi batallions. By this time last year that number had risen to over 120 batallions, and efforts continue to improve them. Infrastructure has been rebuilt. Police forces have expanded. Provinces are being turned over to full Iraqi civilian control. How long will it take? I don't know. But remember that it took 7 years to put Japanese government back into Japanese hands after WWII -- and that's without an insurgency.

Meanwhile, since Jan 05 Iraqi security forces have suffered three times as many fatalities as the US. They've suffered over 19,000 civilian deaths in the same period. I take exception to anyone that suggests that Iraqis aren't stepping up to the plate.

I stand by my statement about a volunteer military. You may not know this, but people who separate or retire from active duty generally have an inactive reserve commitment afterward. Thus, even though you're not on active duty and are for all intents and purposes a civilian, you're still on the books and subject to recall for a few years. During your inactive reserve period you're basically still "in" the military. That's an understood part of the deal when you sign up. All of the people who got recalled in the manner you mentioned understood this when they volunteered. No one coerced that signature, and recalling someone from inactive reserve is not the same as a draft. Similarly, members of the Guard and Reserve volunteer with the knowledge that they can be activated for war. Missing home does not constitute conscripted service.

I agree with bitmasher -- I get a little concerned when leaders in Congress start discounting the commander on the ground because they think they know better.

CVC
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I heard the general yesterday and he wanted more troops. I doubt he will get what he wants because we don't let the military fight wars, we tie their hands and let the politicians dictate how the war is to be fought.

expatriate's picture
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CVC, I share your frustration about hands being tied. My son is infantry and trained for months in close-quarters battle (clearing houses, etc) before deploying. He's also the grenadier (M203) on his squad. Yet just before they deployed he was told that they wouldn't be issued flash-bangs or high explosive 203 rounds when they got in country.

The whole idea of a flash-bang is that you toss one in just prior to breaching and it disorients the enemy for a couple moments and gives you an opportunity to rush in and overwhelm them. Flash-bangs save lives on both sides. And yet they're not allowed to use them because leadership is afraid that a non-combatant might be in the room.

Similarly, an M203 is useless if all you have is marker rounds. With HE, you can stand off and engage insurgents shooting at you from a building or behind cover. WIthout it, you have to rush them -- without flash-bangs.

I've also heard reports of the old "don't fire until fired upon" philosophy.

Yes, it's frustrating, but those ROEs were put in place because they're afraid of a possible mistake being made and the media blowing it up into a political issue that hampers support. So don't blame the military's leadership -- blame the media and populace that are pressuring them to wage war against a non-uniformed foe without any collateral damage or noncombatant injuries. Imagine going duck hunting and being told you'll go to jail if you shoot a duck with a leg band. By the time you positively verify there's no leg band prior to taking the shot, the duck's long gone.

War's an ugly thing, and yet this one is remarkably bloodless compared to the past. We lost 47,000 in Vietnam, and 291,000 in WWII. I say commit more troops, accept the possibility of collateral damage, ramp up efforts to bring Iraqi forces online, and seal the borders to stop the inflow of arms from Iran and Syria. Get the job done rather than run away.