by Gary North
In my final act of citizenship as a now-former resident of the Natural State — Arkansas — I sent a letter to my two senators and my representative, recommending that they vote to bring our troops home from Iraq. Two of them refused to reply. Senator Blanche Lincoln (Dem.) did reply.
Senator Lincoln is forthrightly behind our troops. She is there forthrightly, screaming at the top of her lungs, "You'll stay there until George W. Bush is good and ready to bring you home!"
Which is, approximately, never.
She assured me that for as long as there is a war on terrorism — and that, it appears clear, will be for as long as President Bush remains President and any successor Republican remains President — our brave boys and girls in uniform have an obligation to remain in harm's way . . . over there. That's because U.S. credibility is on the line — not George W. Bush's credibility, you understand: U.S. credibility. As she writes:
In addition, U.S. credibility is on the line in Iraq and Afghanistan and the time for leadership is now. As our Commander in Chief, it is the responsibility of the President to work with our allies in the rebuilding of coalitions to help share the burdens of a war currently being shouldered almost entirely by our nation. In addition, it is more important than ever that President Bush and his administration work within the international community to forge a stronger international effort in the global fight against terrorism. The American people and the troops placing themselves in harm's way deserve nothing less.
I conclude that Senator Lincoln asked her voter correspondence assistant to draft this letter, and he did so, using a campaign speech by John Kerry as the model.
Why is U.S. credibility on the line? Because, she speculates, President Bush successfully hoodwinked Congress in 2002.
The decision to initiate a war to remove Saddam Hussein from power was a high-risk strategy devised by the President and his national security team. We know today there were many false assumptions by the Administration before the war and if the truth were known in November, 2002, Congress might not have endorsed the President's plan so readily or, at best, would have asked for more strict conditions.
"At best," Congress might have asked for "more strict conditions." But that was then, and this is now. Now that Congress knows all about these "many false assumptions," Congress and Senator Lincoln remain firmly committed to keeping our troops over there without any additional "strict conditions." In other words, "Fool me once; shame on me; fool me twice, shame on me again. Fool me a third time, and . . . doggone . . . shame on me again! I sure wish that man would stop fooling me."
We can also reflect on management errors that have occurred in Iraq since the invasion that have left our troops more vulnerable to attack and created new obstacles to their mission of capturing the hearts and minds of most Iraqis.
I see. Their mission is to capture the hearts and minds of most Iraqis. Faintly, ever so faintly, I recall a similar phrase during the Vietnam War. It had something to do with the correct anatomical pressure points to win people's hearts and minds.
However, when we have more than 130,000 American troops in Iraq today willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice, I believe we must look ahead to ensure the success of this mission and bring our soldiers home safely and as soon as possible.
The question is: How far ahead? As far ahead as George W. Bush looks ahead, it seems.
While we have seen recent signs of hope in Iraq, American troops still have a job to do if the world is to become a safer place because of this war.
A job to do. Yes, sir, a big job to do. And Senator Lincoln is fully committed to providing them with the equipment they can use to do that job . . . over there.
Thousands of young men and women from our great state have served in this war and they have shown courage and perseverance through difficult times that have undoubtedly tested their resolve. I am forever grateful for their service and stand proudly behind them and will do everything I can to improve their well-being and provide them with the equipment, resources, and benefits they rightfully deserve.
The solution to their problems in completing their mission is better equipment. In other words, the problem is not geography, or religion, or a multi-headed national resistance movement armed to the teeth with low-tech weapons. The problem is that the Pentagon isn't getting enough funding.
While I will always place a priority on ensuring our military has what it needs to adequately defend our nation, I will remain committed to ensuring that funding goes where it is needed most; to the troops who are placing themselves in harm's way. I am troubled that U.S. soldiers fighting to defend our freedom still do not have the protective equipment they need as they operate in increasingly hostile areas within Iraq. In response to concerns that have been raised by soldiers and their loved ones, I have contacted Army officials to express my concern and frustration regarding the shortage of proper equipment for our troops on the battlefield and have continually worked with my colleagues to pass measures to provide direct funding for force protection requirements and armor.
I have no doubt of her concern when she contacted "Army officials." They assured her that they also share her concerns, and that they fully support her in her valiant effort to raise Defense Department funding as soon as possible.
Then, after she hung up the phone, they started laughing.
She says that it all rests now on the Iraqis. Congress is apparently out of the loop.
I am hopeful that the courage and determination displayed by the Iraqis during their national elections will enhance the ability of the Iraqi people to stand up and fight for their liberty. After all, America's freedom was not given to us, we had to fight for it. For all of our work and sacrifice, we cannot force the Iraqis to succeed at freedom.
We can't? Then why are we still there? The elections are over. The new government is formed, in a joint Iraqi/American sort of way. If we are still there, using force, with more equipment on the way, aren't we trying to force the Iraqis to succeed at freedom? Because, if that's not our mission — hearts and minds — then it must have to do with the imposition of anatomical motivation for other purposes.
The newly elected Iraqi government, and the citizens they represent, will ultimately have to determine the future of their nation and bring the much-needed stability that is vital to their nation's reconstruction.
Yes, they will. But when? On whose timetable? By whose definition of stability?
She assured me that she remains committed to bring our troops home . . . one of these days, Real Soon Now.
I share your concerns about the war and you can be certain that I will remain resolute in my commitment to protect our security and do all that is within my power to ensure the safe return of our men and women in uniform. Please do not hesitate to let me know whenever I may be of assistance to you in the future.
As she said, "Please do not hesitate to let me know whenever I may be of assistance to you in the future."
I did not hesitate. I received her letter on April 11. Check the date of this posting.
April 12, 2005
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