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What the troops think

Posted by Richard on November 6, 2006

Mirabile dictu! Someone at the Washington Post apparently decided that, if you’re going to claim that you support and respect the troops, you might want to occasionally listen to them and see what they think. The result was today’s remarkable story by Josh White, "Soldiers in Iraq Say Pullout Would Have Devastating Results." White even left Baghdad and viisted troops in the countryside and at forward operating bases. He found a remarkable unanimity of support for the mission:

For the U.S. troops fighting in Iraq, the war is alternately violent and hopeful, sometimes very hot and sometimes very cold. It is dusty and muddy, calm and chaotic, deafeningly loud and eerily quiet.

The one thing the war is not, however, is finished, dozens of soldiers across the country said in interviews. And leaving Iraq now would have devastating consequences, they said.

(How do I know the troops are remarkably unanimous? Well, this is the Washington Post. I don’t it’s a stretch to suspect that if White had found even one soldier or Marine who favored pulling out, the headline would have been "Soldiers Divided About Withdrawing" — and it would have gotten better placement than page A-13.)

Even a self-described liberal from New Jersey thought withdrawing U.S. troops would be disastrous:

"Pulling out now would be as bad or worse than going forward with no changes," Modlin said. "Sectarian violence would be rampant, democracy would cease to exist, and the rule of law would be decimated. It’s not ‘stay the course,’ and it’s not ‘cut and run’ or other political catchphrases. There are people’s lives here. There are so many different dynamics that go on here that a simple solution just isn’t possible."

A captain from Texas talked about how his troops have helped Iraqi forces in Tall Afar and gained the trust of the local residents, and he described what it would mean if they left now:

"We’ll pull their feet out from under them if we leave," Lingenfelter said.

"It’s still fragile enough now that if the coalition were to leave, it would embolden the insurgents. A lot of people have put their trust and faith in us to see it to the end. It would be an extreme betrayal for us to leave."

Read the whole thing (log in with BugMeNot if necessary).

Captain Ed described the long-term, strategic consequences of withdrawal well:

If the US turns its back on the Iraqis now, Somalia will pale into insignificance in comparison to the disaster, both militarily and strategically, we will have brought upon ourselves. Native populations will never — never — trust us to stand by and protect them after risking everything to assist us. Tyrants and terrorists will laugh at our threats, knowing they can outlast us, especially if they can create enough propaganda to distract American voters.

The soldiers and Marines understand that victory cannot be replaced by "phased redeployment". If the tactics need changing or adjustment, then bring in better ideas — but we cannot allow retreat and capitulation become the only other option for Iraq.

That’s right — bring in better ideas, if you have them. But don’t be like Ed Perlmutter and pretend that finger-pointing is actually an idea or a plan. "Hold the President accountable," my aching backside.

UPDATE: Would it be churlish of me to point out that this WaPo article is the petard by which all those making the chicken hawk argument are hoist?
 

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One Response to “What the troops think”

  1. VRB said

    It would appear that if any one disagrees with any part of your argument about war in Iraq, you assign the chickenhawk argument.

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