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November 22, 2005
Did Murtha Urge Retreat From Somalia?

Newsmax reported yesterday that Rep. John Murtha, the former Marine who sent Washington into a firestorm last week with a demand to withdraw American forces from Iraq, has a history of demanding retreats. They claim that Murtha himself took credit for the withdrawal of American forces from Somalia following the "Black Hawk Down" incident, a withdrawal that allegedly inspired al-Qaeda's leaders to pursue active attacks on American assets around the world:

After terrorists attacked U.S. troops in Mogadishu, Somalia 12 years ago, anti-Iraq war Democrat, Rep. John Murtha urged then-President Clinton to begin a complete pullout of U.S. troops from the region.

Clinton took the advice and ordered the withdrawal - a decision that Osama bin Laden would later credit with emboldening his terrorist fighters and encouraging him to mount further attacks against the U.S. ...

Two weeks later, after 18 U.S. Rangers were killed in the battle of Mogadishu, Murtha visited U.S. forces in Somalia.

Upon his return he proclaimed to the world that the Mogadishu defeat had a devastating impact on the Rangers' morale.

"They're subdued compared to normal morale of elite forces," Murtha said. "Obviously, it was a very difficult battle. A lot of Somalis were killed, but it was a brutal battle."

Murtha said the U.S. had to no choice but to pull out now, explaining, "There's no military solution. Some of them will tell you [that] to get [warlord Mohamed Farrah] Aidid is the solution. I don't agree with that."

The comments were eerily similar to Murtha's assessment of U.S involvement in Iraq last week, when he declared, "the U.S. cannot accomplish anything further militarily. It is time to bring [the troops] home."

Newsmax doesn't have the greatest reliability, but when it reports on previous public statements it usually quotes accurately. Most media do not keep transcripts for shows that far back. If this is accurate, it shows that far from being a Democratic hawk who just had a road-to-Damascus moment about Iraq, Murtha has a track record of the kind of cut-and-run that has created the problems we have with Islamofascists today.

The Mogadishu battle and our sudden withdrawal after taking 18 casualties still gets referenced often by AQ and other terrorist organizations when arguing that the US is nothing more than a paper tiger. They firmly believe that any significant casualties will cause us to withdraw from any conflict, no matter what the actual military status is. They have mostly been proven correct, as Somalia came as the nadir of American resolve. In a battle where we killed at least five times the number of enemy combatants, the American political and media elite declared the situation a "disaster" that required nothing less than a complete retreat from Somalia altogether.

The real problem in Somalia had been mission creep. We started out to deliver food and medicine, and then shortly after Clinton took office, he upped the ante by going after the warlords that interfered with the mission -- but without supplying the troops with the equipment necessary for the new mission. That led to unnecessary casualties, but the mission in Somalia could have been a success had we prepared for it properly. It not only could have rescued a "failed state" by building a stable central government, but also could have stamped out al-Qaeda in its germination.

Now Murtha wants to pull another Somalia, using the same tired arguments (as noted by Newsmax), and leave Iraq in the same state as Somalia. As the proverb goes, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, but rarely does one person represent both sides of that lesson.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 22, 2005 7:24 AM

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