The elections are over now. WE WON!!! Unfortunately, we didn't win everything we wanted. I dearly wanted Jim Davis to win in FL-Gov. It was not to be. But, we did win a giant referendum on Iraq. Now the President is acting like he is leading a different country than the one that just soundly rejected his vision for Iraq.
So, here I am. I have no excuses for not writing this. Some of you are not going to like what I have to say. Others might. In any event, here is my two cents worth...
First thing, I ought to tell you a little about me. I am old enough to have spent 4 years in the Marine Corps and 13 months in South East Asia. (Viet Nam mostly, but also some other places in that general neck of the woods.) Up until the last few years, I thought this country had actually learned some lessons from Viet Nam. Until ole George W got into his mach0 act.
I long ago came to my own terms with Viet Nam. It was a mistake to have gone there in the first place. We didn't fight the war in a way that would give us a chance to "win". But the men and women who served there did so honorably and felt they were serving the best interests of their country at the time. It was not until several years later that I saw how wrong it was for us to have gotten involved there. But our involvement there did figure into the larger scheme of events and in its own way contributed to the eventual freedom of Eastern Europe. All part of history.
I was not in favor of this war from the beginning. I did not believe that Iraq was an imminent threat to the national security of the United States, and couldn't fathom why Dumbya did. But neither am I a pacifist. There are people out there who want to harm us. I have no problem whatsoever doing it to them before they can do it to us. I would just prefer we focus on the real bad guys out there. There are certainly enough of them. We didn't need to invent any new ones.
On that score, I was in complete agreement with Senator Bob Graham. During the debate for the Authorization of Use of Military Force in Iraq (AUMF), Senator Graham introduced a substitute amendment. The Graham amendment left the Iraq request intact. It added other trouble makers such as Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Syria etc. Graham, who was Chair of the Senate Intelligence committee at the time, urged his colleagues to approve his amendment because there were other bad actors out there who had in fact already killed Americans and wanted to kill some more.
Well, the Graham amendment was defeated. The Bush administration did not want the focus on Iraq to be diluted. Senator Graham's speech the next day on the resolution that ultimately passed should be required reading for every critic of the war.
tonight I am going to vote no on this resolution. The reason is this
resolution is too timid. It is too limiting. It is too weak. This resolution
fails to recognize the new reality of the era of terrorism. And that reality is
that war abroad will, without assertive security actions, increase the prospects
of terrorist attacks here at home. In fact, war on Iraq alone leaves
Americans more vulnerable to the No. 1 threat facing us today, those
international terrorist organizations that have the capability to inflict upon
us a repeat of the tragedy of September 11.
Graham closed his speech with this:
Of all the issues we care about, and those issues over which we have
some capability to determine the outcome, in my judgment, the No. 1
priority should be the war on terrorism and its threat to the people of
the United States in our homeland. Our top targets should be those
groups that have the greatest potential to repeat what happened on
September 11, killing thousands of Americans. Passing this timid resolution, I fear, will only increase the chances of Americans
again being killed. That is not a burden of probability I am prepared
to accept. Therefore, I will vote no.
I close with the words spoken in one of the darkest periods of the
history of the Western World. In 1941, Winston Churchill said:
Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and
easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can
measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter.
The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that
once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of
policy, but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable
Now to the nub of it. What should we be doing now? There are all these dire predictions of the region falling into chaos if we withdraw precipitously. Sounds a lot like the old "domino theory" to me. We all now that didn't come to pass. , But maybe we just got lucky that time. Maybe this is a different set of circumstances.
Here is my proposal. I don't want to lose a single more American life refereeing the civil war going on in Iraq right now. Neither do I want to risk that the bad actors adjacent to Iraq will use our absence to their advantage. My proposal is that we immediately inform the Iraqis that they are responsible for their own internal security. We will pull our forces back to the Iraqi borders or into Kuwait and / or Turkey. We will provide external security to Iraq for a limited time period.
This should deter Iraq's neighbors from making mischief in the area. At the same time we should be talking to all of Iraq's neighbors to get them to buy into a solution for Iraq's external security that will allow us to remove all our combat forces from Iraqi soil. This should begin immediately.
So there you have it. It has some elements of the Murtha plan. It has some elements of the ISG report. And it has ideas borrowed from elsewhere. If I were in a position to advise the President, that's what I would be telling him we ought to do. I am not, so I am suggesting this alternative to you.