June 25, 2007

Hegseth Vs Levin

Pete Hegseth, who just completed a tour in Iraq as an officer in the 101st Airborne a year ago, has some issues with the anti-war rhetoric he has discovered in the time since his return. Now serving in the New Jersey National Guard -- and a native of Minnesota -- Hegseth focuses on recent statements from Senate Armed Services chair Carl Levin (D-MI) to rebut the arguments repeatedly made by those who want an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. He takes the three basic charges apart in today's Washington Times:

· A deadline for withdrawal is an incentive for Iraqi political compromise. Levin thinks we ought to pressure Iraq's government with a warning tantamount to saying: "You better fix the situation before we leave and your country descends into chaos." He should consider the more likely result: an American exit date crushing any incentive for Iraqi leaders to cooperate and instead prompting rival factions to position themselves to capitalize on the looming power void. ...

· We can bring the war to a "responsible end" but still conduct counterterrorism operations. ... What is "responsible" about the large-scale bloodshed that would surely occur if we left the Iraqis behind with insufficient security forces? What is "responsible" about proving al-Qaeda's thesis that America can be defeated anywhere with enough suicide bombings? ...

· We are "supporting the troops" by demanding an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. ... But what kind of "support" and "unequivocal message" do the troops hear from leaders in Congress who call their commanders "incompetent" or declare the war "lost"?

Such statements provide nearly instant enemy propaganda to every mud hut with a satellite dish in Iraq and throughout the Arab world. These messages do not spell support, no matter how you spin them. And they could inspire insurgents, making the situation more dangerous for our soldiers and Marines.

Hegseth has fought back against these efforts to undermine support for the war since his return. He launched Vets for Freedom, an organization dedicated to supporting the war effort and to convince Congress to keep the military deployment fully funded. He began his effort before he set foot back in the US, starting with e-mails to Power Line from Samarra last June. He's dedicated himself to the mission.

As that e-mail shows, he's seen the issues on the ground. Samarra has been one of the tough neighborhoods for the Iraqi government and the Coalition, but it has steadily improved. It was the center of sectarian violence in February 2006, when the bombing of the Golden Mosque set off a low-grade civil war between Sunnis and Shi'ites. Hegseth saw improvement in the situation last summer, and his analysis has been confirmed in the repeat of the bombing last week, when reaction was limited to a couple of revenge attacks and a peace march through the town.

Levin chose to quote Abraham Lincoln in his op-ed piece in arguing that the war is just too tough to win. Hegseth found this odd, as Lincoln faced a much more difficult, grueling, and incompence-laden war, one that many urged him to negotiate as a draw. Lincoln knew that the war had to be fought to some sort of conclusion, if for no other reason than that a draw would encourage more rebellion and more bloodshed later. He found a general who grasped the correct, if bloody, strategy and had the courage to apply it unceasingly against the Confederacy, and Lincoln ended the war.

Hegseth argues that Bush has done much the same with his appointment of General Petraeus. He has found the right strategy and the right general to apply it. With America's enemies claiming Iraq as the central front of their war against us, and with a withdrawal doing nothing but guaranteeing further war on their terms rather than ours, the correct choice is to fight and beat the terrorists facing off against our military right now, rather than wait for them to attack American civilians later.


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Comments (12)

Posted by Scott Malensek | June 25, 2007 7:00 AM

It's been said that an insurgency needs the support of the locals to survive, and that's correct, but it's a cherry-picked sort of half truth where the other half of the insurgency/population relationship is ignored. A more truthful statement is that, "an insurgency needs the support of a certain portion of the local population in order to survive, and it seeks to convince the controlling element of the opposing population in order to succeed."

I point this out because while a military officer goes through years of college, often decades of field experience, and many more years of command schools, during that entire time they are only taught how to wage war-never taught how to win it for a military's job is only to wage war, and it is the role of the civilian leadership to win a war....or lose it.

Pete Hegseth has waged the war, now, by addressing the sympathetic voices of American divide over the war (rather than unity), he is working to win it. Put simply, there is simply no way to oppose the war politically, and seek to win it because by only a united nation can win a war. A nation divided and misled into opposing it cannot win. It can only seek a draw or excuse a defeat.

Posted by NoDonkey | June 25, 2007 8:12 AM

Agree with the previous post. The Democrat Party only voted to approve the war in 2002, to take the issue off of the table prior to the elections.

After they approved it and once it was clear that it would not end quickly, the Democrat Party saw it as a golden opportunity to use it as a political weapon against a popular President and the Republican Party.

The Democrat Party has used their media mouthpieces to encourage the terrorists and Iranian proxies and to discourage real Democrats in Iraq.

The Democrat Party has committed treason against the United States by undermining the Commander in Chief and the military.

If we really wanted to win this war, every Democrat member of Congress would have long ago been locked in Leavenworth and on trial for their lives.

Posted by brooklyn | June 25, 2007 8:44 AM

This is excellent.

One of things we take for granted however, is the ability to fight halfway around the globe.

As if it is easier in a sand filled desert, in the heart of the troubled Arab Region, so very far from the USA.

This is a very difficult challenge, and many pundits who advocated for Saddam's removal with force created unrealistic expectations, not considering the sincere complex nature of the task.

Of course the unethical opposition of the Democrat Party and the MSM, have added even more problems with endless undermining.

It is an extremely worthy mission, and can change the ME and the World for the best.

The terrorists can only win if we give up.

Hoping we remain steadfast, but some even on the Conservative side, have shown an incredible desire to abandon the fight.

Everyone likes a winner, and perhaps with the changing of the tide in Iraq, things will be different at home.

Posted by Brian H | June 25, 2007 9:03 AM

I won't insult the Dems by suggesting they're too stupid to know what they're doing and what the real effect will be.

So it must be deliberate.


'Nuff said.

Posted by Scott Malensek | June 25, 2007 9:53 AM

An American victory in Iraq is a defeat for the Democratic Party and all those who oppose the war (oppose it violently or non-violently).

It's just



Posted by biwah [TypeKey Profile Page] | June 25, 2007 10:34 AM

only a united nation can win a war. A nation divided and misled into opposing it cannot win.

Agreed, mostly. The admin completely ignored this facet of war by democracies. They contemptuouslly treated the people and congress like stupid prols when victory absolutely depended on getting them on board. Yes, there would always be an anti-war faction, but the manner of starting the Iraq war has made a majority of that contingent. You are now asking people to forget all about that and focus on the current task. Though I agree that takes priority, it is a tall order for those who are justifiably seething at the admin. Much of the American populace is saying "fool me once...", but it is directed at the admin.

That is not treason, it is a domestic conflict regarding our allocation of power that could have been avoided or at least mitigated many times, but was not. Cf. GOP vs. Clinton on Mogadishu.

The point is sound, but the rhetoric remains counterproductive and designed to undercut the point. It seems that the admin may be seeking a truce with Congress on this, and doubtless any concessions they make will be for appearance's sake. But it will avoid defunding the war etc. That's known as domestic politics, critical and entirely distinguishable from military portion of the war.

Posted by Russ | June 25, 2007 11:47 AM

I've been saying this stuff since I got back. It's about time a soldier finally got a voice to say it so loudly.

Posted by Chris | June 25, 2007 12:28 PM

Sen. Levin was using Lincolns vote when he was in congress on funding for the Mexican/American War - not talking about the civil war.

As an OIF vet myself, I think that Sen. Levin is one of the few senators who has exercised his votes responsibly for the past five years. He opposed the initial war (and I think it has proven to be a strategic mistake) authorization, but has since argued that we need to change our strategy while funding the troops on the ground.

I don't see were Sen. Levin is asking for an immediate withdrawal. CPT Hegseth needs to pick his political battles a little more intelligently. Sen. Levin, Sen. Reed, Sen. Biden - these are allies on the Democratic side of the Senate - standing up to the radical left and doing the right thing. Now they have advocates for doing the responsible thing in Iraq trying to beat them up as well?

Does CPT Hegseth plan on alienating everyone within the Democratic caucus of congress? Way to win over the American people.

Posted by Fred | June 25, 2007 12:38 PM

Lt. Hegseth deserves our thanks for his courage and his service, but I wonder how long he thinks we will need to keep troops in Iraq. After years of training and tens of billions of dollars in equipment, the Iraqi Army is still unable to fight insurgents on its own. The reason seems to be a combination of two factors: gross corruption, which has diverted equipment and resources, and sectarian/tribal loyalties trumping any loyalty to Iraq's federal government. What can America do to fix these problems?

The majority of Iraqis want American troops to leave their country, and our presence draws Al Qaeda terrorists into Iraq. It's time for the Iraqi government to negotiate a timetable with us for the withdrawal of Coalition troops.

Posted by davod | June 25, 2007 1:00 PM

Any poll which comes up with a majority of the Iraqis wanrting the US to leave is questionable. I bet they don't want the US to leave until the place is stable.

Posted by Russ | June 25, 2007 8:17 PM


I too am an OIF vet, and believe me that most of us still in uniform think you are wildly off the mark.

Unless you think stopping a genocidal madman from beating people into submission was a strategic mistake. Did you see any of the graves in Karbala? Or talk to the parents of those raped in Sadr City?

To your main point, we have changed strategy. Yes, we should have done what General Patraeus is doing now four years ago, but we can't change that. What we can do is give him time to accomplish the mission. History has shown it takes about 13 years to successfully quell an insurgency, so we need more time.

Levin hasn't stood up to anybody. He has laid down to everything the surrender caucus has asked. You want to know if he should alienate the dems. Maybe they should be more concerned with alienating the military vote that they are in the process of betraying for the second time in less than 40 years.

Posted by Project Vote Smart | June 26, 2007 9:00 AM

Senator Carl Levin’s voting record on military issues can be found at: http://www.votesmart.org/voting_category.php?can_id=53307&type=category&category=47&go.x=6&go.y=14

Senator Carl Levin’s history of speeches on the Iraq war can be found at: http://www.votesmart.org/speech.php?keyword=Iraq+War&daterange=&begin=&end=&phrase=&contain=&without=&type=search&can_id=53307&go2.x=0&go2.y=0#Results

Senator Carl Levin’s ratings from special interest groups on military issues can be found at: http://www.votesmart.org/issue_rating_category.php?can_id=53307

For more information on Senator Carl Levin’s position on military issues please visit http://www.vote-smart.org or call our hotline at 1-888-VOTE-SMART.