Sunday, November 20, 2005

A letter from Iraq

"You weren't there, so how would you know?" is the common way to shut up an argument by an opponenet. There are many examples: Chickenhawks, neo-cons, etc. However, here is someone who has been there twice, and is there right now.
You cannot dismiss it out of hand, because his presence ensures his credibility to a greater degree than any other argument can.
Before we surrender, let's listen to those who are there. The fact that he is an NCO and not an officer seems to extend his credibility, since he is less likely to be politically correct, but speak the truth as he knows it.
Give it a read.


Matt Singer said...

Steve, anyone who follows the sentiment in Iraq knows that among the troops, the sentiments are pretty mixed. What we don't see much of anymore is critics of the war signing the letters they send, in part because those that do can get in some pretty serious trouble for speaking out.

Look, I'm not a big fan of the chicken hawk epithet. I think it implies that only soldiers, sailors, pilots, and marines know a damn thing about war. That's simply not true.

And I do think that both critics and supporters of our Iraq policy who have been on the ground merit being listened to, but I also don't think anything in Sgt. Rausch's letter undercuts most of the arguments being made by Rep. Murtha, Nir Rosen, or the other proponents of withdrawal who are worth reading. These are also people who have been over there. And I can offer you some other thoughts on Iraq from people who have been over there.

Setting a timetable now really is in the best interests of beating the insurgency, which is our strategic goal here. What's wrong with that notion and why do we have to consider it surrender?

If we conflate withdrawal with surrender, we're embracing a mindset that makes victory impossible.

I don't think that's wise.

Steve said...

The reason that I think settting a timetable is surrender, is what happens when your objectives are not met, but the timetable says that you have to go. Do you go with a rigid timetable, or do you go with the objective, in which case you never needed a timetable anyways.
I disagree with your contention that his letter does not undercut Murtha. He says that we are doing a lot of good and accomplishing a lot. That is not what Murtha says, who believes we are the sole source of the problem.
You are the one who turned my onto "Imperial Grunts." It has been ten years since I was on active duty, but the soldiers in the book are exactly what I remember. They want to accomplish the job. We need to give them all of the tools and support that they require to get it done.
Conversely, if they say that we won't be able to do the job, I will be the first to scream that we need to get them out.

Matt Singer said...

Steve, the timetable in my mind is important, even if altered eventually because it is a promise that we are not occupiers. Saying we will stay as long as it takes can sound awfully suspicious to people who are looking for reasons to be suspicious of us.

I do like your stance of asking the Iraqi government to write the exit strategy after these next elections. The fact that we're having a discussion about when we should withdraw our troops from a nominally sovereign nation does raise pretty serious doubts about how sovereign they are.