it's now or never
i've written before about the need to stay in iraq. whatever you thought of the decision to go in the first place, we're there now and, consequently, iraq has become the epicenter of the war on terror. the primary sponsors of the current crop of iraqi terrorists, iran and syria, are two of the most active terrorist states in the world today. in providing passage, men, and materials, they have in effect been waging a terrorist cold war against the united states of america. we can't afford to lose face, to ourselves, to them, to the middle east.
i heard someone remark this morning that if we don't win in iraq, we'll face a never-ending stream of middle-eastern terror. how true.
if we can't win in iraq, a state with a largely sympathetic population that is willing to participate in a federal government (if you want "insurgency" talk to france, circa 1950s vietnam) then where can we win? there is no evidence to support the contention that the people of iraq are in open rebellion. what we do see are tightly focused hot spots in four or five cities whose names have become household words, yet there are dozens of iraqi cities we've never heard of where millions of iraqi civilians are peacefully yet impatiently awaiting democracy. they've continued waiting while we've tip-toed through the hot spots in a misguided effort not to offend them, thereby sentencing ourselves to the death of a thousand paper cuts.
in what cannot be dismissed as coincidental, the frequency of suicide bombings and other terrorist strikes against iraqi civilians and u.s. military personnel has escalated with the coming of november, as has the grisly parade of decapitated civilians. make no mistake: from the beginning, terrorism has been about public relations, and the death of a thousand paper cuts gives the media all it needs to portray iraq as a perpetual disaster. despite the fact that we have sustained about one part in sixty the number of casualties, the vietnamization of the war progresses in the minds of the american people.
driven by the "if it bleeds it leads" credo of journalism and a political opposition that believes they have found their key to victory in turning americans against a sitting wartime president, the critical shift in our psyche from "we must win" to "we cannot win" has begun to occur--and it's happening at a pace that accelerates with every bomb-blast and beheading. for better or for worse, bush has lead us into this war by force of will alone: his own, amplified through the public's. if the public abandons him, then victory truly would be impossible. at that point, john kerry would indeed be our last, best hope for success, but little of what kerry has said or done indicates he would be capable of taking the steps necessary to win this war.
john kerry's position on iraq is incoherent even by political standards. the few points he has been consistent on (of late) amount to the belief that everything bush has done since afghanistan has been wrong, and a mysterious plan to right it all. if kerry, with the media, can convince the american people things are bad enough (i don't think they can, but the election is still a long way off) they will abandon bush in favor of the devil they don't know. and what happens then?
there is no magical mystery plan that's going to fix what ails iraq. victory is going to be achieved by a long, tough fight, slugging it out toe to toe with the nastiest, dirtiest fighters on the face of the earth. there will be more casualties, probably a lot more. if kerry adopts a get-tough policy with iraq, cordons off trouble-spots, locks down the syrian and iranian borders, refuses to allow himself to be held hostage by buildings--however sacred--it will become readily apparent that victory is not to be had for the bargain price he's selling. when the political winds turn into his face, he will reverse course. he has done it throughout his career. it's lovely to think of french and german cavalry riding to our aide, but to believe the outcome of that (even if it did happen) would be anything other than a thousand more paper cuts is foolhardy. the french and germans have no will to fight. they would eventually withdraw and kerry would go with them. either way, we're backing out of iraq under john kerry.
but if we remain with bush, war-weariness in the public will set in that much faster. this is unfortunate, because of the two men, george w. bush clearly possess the greater measure of resolve, and resolve is what's needed to win.
it is therefore vital to our national interests that the public be convinced of the necessity of victory in iraq, and, once more, bush is better suited to carry this message. the american people must realize that if the nascent iraqi democracy is thwarted, the long term consequences for the united states will be disastrous.
first, if the american military is unable to stand up to islamic militants, it is unlikely the iraqi government could prevail. the odds of an iranian-sponsored iraqi theocracy would become uncomfortably high. the military hardware this government would have access to and their essential dependence on terrorism and antagonism towards the united states is the most frightening long-term prospect in the war on terror.
second, the broader war on terror will be dealt a severe blow, both from the psychological boost an american defeat would bring to global terrorism, and from the psychological wounds sustained by the american people in another vietnam-style defeat.
third, assuming bush wins the presidency, the credibility of the united states would be significantly hamstrung by defeat. although the president's critics insist that our global reputation is already at an all time low, this studiously ignores the fact that those who most loudly opposed our war against the hussein regime stood to lose the most by his defeat. notwithstanding that, the people of the world think the united states has bitten off more than it can chew. if we prove them right, our reputation will hit a genuine rock bottom.
this is all to say nothing of the suffering the iraqis themselves would endure were democracy supplanted by theocracy, of the oppression of women and minorities, the suppression of knowledge, and the wholesale denial of the most basic civil liberties.
americans must understand that the war on terror is now, right now, in iraq. nothing, not even the capture of bin laden, can be more important. and while seeing osama's corpse swing from the washington monument would be a formidable morale booster, the end result might actually be to our detriment. if osama is apprehended before the people become convinced of the necessity of victory in iraq, there may be a shift towards complacency, but if september eleventh taught us nothing else, it surely taught us that we can never be complacent again. it's a luxury we never really had to begin with.
the war on terrorism is in iraq and the time is now or never. if we lose there, we've lost.
locdog believes we will win, but he can't be the only one
sea, air, land
one month and one day ago, my wife and i sat over burgers and a few microbrews, me pulling my hair out agonizing over my future and her surrealy calm. i'd just found out i wasn't going to fly for the navy, and although i was committed to going in, i hadn't the slightest as to what capacity.
"let's pray about it for one month," she advised.
one month? one month. my God. one month.
i'm 27. people think that's young. people think 50 is "middle age." people are dumb. 27. dear God. one more month. if i hadn't wasted so many months, if i hadn't wasted so much time...
"if you are serious about finding God's will, you'll do it."
at the time it sounded like the craziest idea i'd ever heard, but i knew she was right. in my heart, i made a pledge that if the cost was a month, i'd pay it.
i've paid it. a month. i never knew how long a month could be. every night, on my knees in prayer, lying awake in bed, talking it over with my friends, my family, myself...what was i to do?
this morning my wife reminded me that it was one month. i had no idea. a month and a day, in fact. a month and a day.
in my heart, i knew what i was supposed to do. i think i'd known it all along, but i had to be sure. it wasn't the sort of thing you just decided on a whim. the future of yourself, your family, maybe your kids if you ever had any...the potential to change everything in your life, to turn it upside-down and right-side up, or maybe to right it finally, once and for all. she told me it was the right thing to do. part of me still thinks she's nuts, but the bigger part, the deepest part of me knows that she's right.
God willing, i'm going to be a Navy SEAL.
locdog knows that through Christ, all things are possible
full text of rather's statement, courtesy of drudgereport.com:
Last week, amid increasing questions about the authenticity of documents used in support of a 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY story about President Bush's time in the Texas Air National Guard, CBS News vowed to re-examine the documents in question—and their source—vigorously. And we promised that we would let the American public know what this examination turned up, whatever the outcome.
IMO, this retraction is just as phony as the memos themselves. this wasn't "a mistake in judgment." going a bit too fast on an icy road is a mistake in judgment. winding your car up to 120 and slamming it into a bridge abutment over the shrieking protest of your passengers is something else entirely.
and get a load of this slippery little gem: "I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers."
note he doesn't flatly state "our source misled us" anymore than he admits that these documents are forgeries (preface "forgery" with "apparent" if it makes you feel more comfortable.) because, if he did, he'd have no excuse for cowering behind his recently discovered set of journalistic ethics. he'd have to cough up some names and humiliate himself further.
people can forgive honest mistakes, but this was a betrayal. it was a betrayal of trust, of ethics, of truth, and of the unique civic responsibility of the press.