The Trouble With Murtha

It has been sad to see how hastily the antiwar movement gets excited about the utterly unexcitable Democrats. From John Kerry to John Murtha, we’ve been jobbed by the best of u2018em this past year and a half.

Many who oppose this war have latched onto Rep. Murtha’s call to change the course in Iraq. It sounds nice to be sure. Changing the course is absolutely desired by the antiwar movement. Bush and the rest of the hawks in Washington have done nothing but chant a nauseous "stay the course" mantra, so not surprisingly Murtha’s sudden entrance into the debate has been greeted with open arms and wet smooches.

Rep. Murtha may be calling for something a bit different than the neo-con’s Iraq plan, but that doesn’t mean it’s all that.

Murtha, a respected war veteran who championed the Iraq invasion from its inception, is calling for an exit of troops from Iraq. But don’t be fooled, he won’t be bringing them home any time soon. Rather, what Rep. Murtha is really calling for is a "redeployment" of US armed forces.

Murtha’s stance is not withdrawal as it should be. What he is calling for is not immediate, either. To put it bluntly: Murtha’s proposal is not in the least bit worthy of the “antiwar" movements’ hearty embrace.

If you’ve had the misfortune of tuning into Murtha’s latest press conferences or TV showcases these past few weeks, you would not have heard him utter the word "withdrawal" — not a once did the word turn off his seasoned political tongue. Instead what you would have heard was "redeployment" over and again.

As the antiwar movement calls for the troops to come home now, Murtha has quite a different suggestion of what to do with them, and redeployment is just a cover word for a greater war agenda.

According to a policy report titled “Strategic Redeployment: A Progressive Plan for Iraq and the Struggle Against Violent Extremists,” put out by the Center for American Progress, which Rep. Murtha supports, redeployment isn’t all that better than staying the course:

"As redeployments begin, the remaining forces in Iraq would focus on our core missions: completing the training of Iraqi forces; improving border security; providing logistical and air support to Iraqi security forces engaged in battles against terrorists and insurgents; serving as advisors to Iraqi units; and tracking down terrorists and insurgent leaders with smaller, more nimble Special Forces units operating jointly with Iraqi units…

"By the end of 2007, the only US military forces in Iraq would be a small Marine contingent to protect the US embassy, a small group of military advisors to the Iraqi Government, and counterterrorist units that works closely with Iraqi security forces. This presence, along with the forces in Kuwait and at sea in the Persian Gulf area will be sufficient to conduct strikes coordinated with Iraqi forces against any terrorist camps and enclaves that may emerge and deal with any major external threats to Iraq … 14,000 troops would be positioned nearby in Kuwait and as part of a Marine expeditionary force located offshore in the Persian Gulf to strike at any terrorist camps and enclaves and guard against any major acts that risk further destabilizing the region."

It is just more of the same and the antiwar movement should in no way get excited about Murtha’s offering. He still wants US bases in Iraq and still believes the US — or rather Halliburton — should lead the way of reconstruction efforts in the battered land. And nope, the troops won’t come home; they’ll just be transferred from one imperialist venture to the next.

Rep. Murtha may be a war veteran, but that doesn’t mean he ought to be the antiwar movement’s knight in shining armor.