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Rep. John Murtha pushed the national argument on the Iraq War further towards the International ANSWER/MoveOn agenda this afternoon by demanding an immediate start of an American retreat from Iraq, declaring that American soldiers do not have the capability to defeat terrorists. He based his conclusion not on the facts on the ground, but apparently his experience in Viet Nam, which he tossed around like a West Point degree all afternoon long:
One of Congress' most hawkish and influential Democrats called Thursday for an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, sparking bitter and personal salvos from both sides in a growing Capitol Hill uproar over President Bush's war policies.
"It's time to bring them home," said Rep. John Murtha (news, bio, voting record), a decorated Vietnam combat veteran, choking back tears during remarks to reporters. "Our military has accomplished its mission and done its duty."
The comments by the Pennsylvania lawmaker, who has spent three decades in the House, hold particular weight because he is close to many military commanders and has enormous credibility with his colleagues on defense issues. He voted for the war in 2002, and remains the top Democrat on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.
"Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence," he said. "The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion."
I listened to Murtha extensively on CNN this afternoon as Wolf Blitzer interviewed him, and the AP left out some of Murtha's more idiotic commentary. He kept bringing up Abu Ghraib as if it were the most critical juncture in the Iraq War and kept insisting that it doubled the casualty rate. He repeatedly told Blitzer that the military could not beat the terrorists, a lovely message to send to the 150,000 men and women currently deployed to Iraq, as well as the Zarqawi network and their recruiters. In fact, for most of the interview Murtha could hardly complete a sentence, he became so hysterical.
After the White House disputed his assertions -- mostly rehashed arguments we've now heard for almost all three years of this effort, disregarding the actual fact that our military has allowed the Iraqis to develop a democracy and hold two successful and remarkably peaceful elections -- Murtha got viciously personal, pulling out the chickenhawk argument:
Underscoring the rising emotions of the war debate, Murtha uncharacteristically responded to Vice President Dick Cheney's comments this week that Democrats were spouting "one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges" about the Bush administration's use of intelligence before the war.
"I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there," said Murtha, a former Marine. "I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."
When will Democrats get through their head that our military comes under civilian control? This isn't Starship Troopers, where only veterans make decisions on war and peace, and most Americans wouldn't want to live in that kind of society. All due respect to Murtha's Viet Nam service, but being an enlisted man in Viet Nam doesn't make him the reincarnation of von Clausewitz, either. Dick Cheney has served as a Secretary of Defense and has his own expertise on military matters, even if Murtha doesn't want to admit it.
Cutting and running is surrender, no matter who proposes it. I don't care if Murtha has a chest full of medals -- telling the national media that American troops can't handle Islamofascist terrorists and must be withdrawn from their range of action is cowardice. As I recall, Marshal Petain managed to prostrate himself right quickly before the Nazis despite his status as a WWI hero, too. Besides, where exactly will Murtha draw that line -- New York City? Logan Airport?
Now, of course, the Democrats have the political cover to say that they disagree with Murtha, but they have a more reasonable proposal for a fixed timeline for surrender than Murtha's -- and the media will treat them like "centrists". Blitzer put on that show with John Kerry later tonight, where the erstwhile presidential candidate came up with his latest formulation of an Iraq policy after trying out at least a half-dozen during his failed presidential bid last year. The Democrats, no longer satisfied with being the Party of No have now become the Party of Panic, all while the Iraqis continue to (a) build up their security forces, (b) establish their democratic structures, and (c) more fully engage the Sunni in the political process than ever before.
The Iraqis have more courage in their (purple) finger than Murtha has in his entire hysterical body. Shame on him, and shame on his party.Sphere It View blog reactions
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