One of the tactics I use with a hostile witness is to get them angry. They quickly become less sympathetic with the jury, and I of course, am only trying to find the truth, while I manipulate their anger.
I got angry with Murtha for the wrong reasons. Murtha does go to Walter Reed and visit the wounded, and his call for withdrawl was probably based on seeing the carnage that comes with modern warfare. His call for an immediate withdrawl however, was probably based more on his emotional interactions than that required of a senior political leader of our country.
His assertion that the troops have become the enemy and the catalyst for the insurgency/terrorists is wrong though. As proof, I would offer that we had no troops in the two mosques that were bombed just yesterday. This is not, as Matt would say just a reaction to our presence. This is in fact, a civil war. For proof, I would offer that the Kurdish regions, and the southern Shiite regions are relatively stable. It is mostly in the Sunni central region, where the majority of our troops are located, that the insurgency/terrorist attacks are coming out of. The fact that the Kurds and Shiites have not responded in kind is nothing short of a miracle.
But the key issue still remains, what are we doing there, and when will it end. I am suspicious of Democrats who are calling for the immediate withdrawl, since I find them less than credible in their concerns for the troops, and more willing to believe that they see a political opportunity to exploit that could adversely affect our nation in the region.
Let's examine what would happen if there was an immediate withdrawl as called for by Murtha. The fledgling government will probably self destruct resulting in even greater anarchy than already exists, and would remove all hope for improvement that is at least a possibility for right now. It certainly will not get better or stronger. Our enemies (and they are numerous in the region) will read this as confirmation that our will to persevere is subject to failure whenever there is a long drawn out confrontation. So as long as they can outlast us, they will always win. This will unnecessarily embolden them, and lead to future problems in the area as they doubt our ability to intervene against them.
Now, let's see what happens if we stay. The trick here is going to be the improvement in the Iraqi Army and police forces, which we are continuing to do. They will expand their presence and their actions, allowing us to retreat to a backup role, thereby reducing the opportunity to attack us. The Iraqi forces will then be able to secure cooperation from the locals that we are unable to do, and will make even more progress in rolling up the terror cells.
So, how are we doing with the improvement in training the Iraqi Army? Much has been made of the fact that we went from 3 battalions rated C1 to only 1. What most people don't realize is that this is a simple and practical example of how the system really is improving. Even in our own military, a unit is almost never rated C1 until it is right before deployment. As soon as it gets into the fight, it drops down to C2. This is nothing more than an admission that once combat hits, you are always going to be short of something.
We are making progress, and the mission is getting done. Conceding defeat is not something that the American military ever does willingly. Our leaders, including Rep. Murtha would be wise to look to their example and follow it.
The good news for the Democrats is going to be that in 2006 the troops are going to be coming home anyway. After December 15th, there will have been three elections in Iraq, and the beginning of an actual Iraqi government. The training of the Iraqi Army will allow us to withdraw to our Forward Operating Bases and reduce our presence on the street. This will reduce the justification of those opposed to us as "occupiers" and allow for more stability and the eventual removal of US forces from the region.
Politics it used to be said stops at the water's edge. Today it seems, it can't even make it across the Potomac. With the vote of 403-3 against setting a timetable for immediate removal of US forces, I am hopeful that everyone will just settle down, and let the course of events take place that will allow what everyone wants to happen.
Update I have been reading Kagan's book "Imperial Grunts" and came across a line that seems so appropriate here: The politicians looked at the rules of engagement as a means to protect the soldiers. The soldiers looked at the rules of engagement as a lack of political will, which only makes their job superflous at best and dangerous at worst. The funny thing is, both are right.