Friday, December 08, 2006

Letter to Senators Gregg and Sununu

Copied to my blogsite.

This is not the time to go all wobbly. Difficulty in Iraq is not the same thing as failing, and we are not failing. The Middle-East is much closer to our vision of self-determination and tolerance than it was in 2003. Do not lose sight of the long view. Victory is not hopelessly out of reach nor beyond reasonable means. That have been no misjudgements that are not fixable.

Even small problems can have dire consequences, of course, and the problems we have in a narrow radius of Baghdad could indeed become catastrophic. But they are not now catastrophic in world terms – there are a dozen places on the globe less stable – they are only disappointing in comparison to what we hoped might happen. Several botched attempts, even if followed by several more botched attempts, are not failure. Setbacks and reversals have preceeded every victory. We have seen far worse than this in every war previous.

That much of the American public does not now support our actions in Iraq is less meaningful than one would think. The American people always grow tired of war after three years – it is predictable. While troops were in Vietnam in 1962, large troop increases did not start until 1965. It was in 1968 that the desire to leave racheted up. Lincoln was nearly defeated in the election 1864 because people thought the war was unwinnable and wanted out. Even in WWII, with enormous general support for the mission, by 1945 there was no stomach to oppose Russia or Japan with more combat – hence Yalta and Hiroshima. In Korea, we refused to go farther than 3 years. Three years and then political weariness is the default position – there is nothing unusual about Iraq in this.

I realize that in a divided country there is need to speak gently and seek consensus. I was nonetheless disappointed in your remarks about the ISG, and I have been a supporter of yours for years. Please consider making more dramatic remarks along the lines of Sen. McCain's assessment of the ISG. As you are well aware, conservatives predicted from the beginning that hamstringing our Rules of Engagement and attempting to please our critics would result in the worst of both worlds. While that is an oversimplification, it has turned out to be true. A reputation for victory must be part of the American information war. Such reputations are not merely an exercise in preening or self-congratulation, but a necessary weapon.


David Wyman
Goffstown, NH


copithorne said...

Are you advocating staying the course?

Or do you have a plan for victory?

Anonymous said...

This guy must feel like John the Baptgist crying in the wilderness. Waah, nobody listens to me. I know I'm right!!!

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I have never advocated staying the course. We should have been more nimble and adaptable from the start. But that is easy for me to say, and very hard to accomplish on the ground.

As well as I understand these things - which is admittedly not well - the arguments made over at stratfor seem convincing to me. As that is a subscription site, browsing at the milblogs or Tigerhawk might be good. There are a variety of commenters there, and none, I think, in precise agreement with the president.

copithorne said...

I've read the stuff at Tigerhawk. I'm not sure what you mean.

You don't want to stay the course, you don't like the ISG report but you don't seem to know what you would do differently.

It sounds like you saying you don't want to stay the course amounts to you wishing for a different outcome. As do we all.

John McCain and Silvestro Reyes say they want more troops, but we don't have them.

I guess I am looking around for someone to say: let's start the draft, raise taxes and go really occupy Iraq with 500,000 troops.

That would be a position I would find somewhat respectable. But I've never encountered it.