Tuesday, February 13, 2007

War Debate

The U.S. House of Representatives today began its debate on a resolution expressing no confidence in President Bush's "surge" proposal. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R–San Diego County, CA) said this:

Our soldiers are engaged in combat right now. The worst disservice we can give to them right now is to retroactively blast and degrade the mission that they are currently undertaking. There is no good role, there is no good purpose, that is served by this, so I would ask all my colleagues, let's get behind not only our troops, let's get behind their mission. Let's vote no on this resolution. — Rep. Duncan Hunter (R–CA) 2007-02-13
Congressman Hunter's comment is absurd and insulting to the troops and to the American people. The reality is that the mission on which our troops have been sent needs to be changed, because it can never succeed. The prospect of success is zero — not remote, not even snowball's prayer, but zero. The time to talk of "winning" in Iraq has come and gone and will never return. The mission our troops are on was ill-conceived, inadequately planned, inadequately staffed, inadequately provisioned, incompetently executed by the White House and the Pentagon, and fundamentally misguided. The overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people — along with the overwhelming majority of the American people — believe that the best way forward for the United States is to do an about-face on this mission and withdraw our troops. The greatest disservice we can ever do to our troops is to leave them in an untenable position when we know that their mission needs to be scrapped.

If your mission is to knock down a brick wall by banging it with your head, your lack of success isn't from lack of will, it's from having undertaken a stupid mission. The lack of success our troops have had in bringing long-term stability to Iraq isn't from lack of dedication, nor is it from lack of support on the home front. It is because the mission is wrong. It is wrong to believe that U.S. military force can stabilize Iraq, now or a decade from now.

How exactly does it serve our troops to pretend that there is nothing wrong with the mission on which they have been dispatched? That sounds like the rhetoric of left-wing educators advocating "social promotion" because it would hurt the schoolchildren's feelings to tell them when they haven't made the grade. If you can't give me any better reason than "troop morale" for holding my tongue on criticizing the mission, then it is you, not I, who fail in supporting the troops.

The good purpose served by criticizing the mission is that it serves the necessary goal of changing the mission. The bottom line is, you either support the mission or you support the troops — you cannot do both! The Congress must pass this non-binding resolution against the surge in order to then begin the work of taking real action to reverse the Bush Administration's course in Iraq.

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