Play It Again Sam! (A Look Back on loosing support for the War in Iraq: June 30, 2005)
Last week, Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) introduced long overdue bi-partisan legislation that requires the President to declare a plan that begins withdrawing our troops by October 1, 2006. It has been encouraging to see that some conservative Republican Congressmen in the House led by Rep. Jones are finally supporting a timetable for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. His bill was immediately condemned by the Bush administration spokesmen and some House Republican leaders which is under increasing fire from a growing minority of congressman who are feeling empowered by recent polls showing public support for a near-term withdrawal from the seemingly never-ending counterinsurgency war we are fighting in Iraq. It is unfortunate, that these latest attempts to force the neocon-led Bush administration to comply with the Reagan doctrine which calls for the use of overwhelming force to win our wars followed by a swift withdrawal of our forces have mostly originated from the Democrat side of the aisle.
The Reagan-Weinburger-Powell doctrine also calls for U.S. troops to never be committed to war without an exit strategy and that a war should never be fought without the overwhelming support of the American people. More than two years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the Bush administration continues to refuse to come up with an exit strategy or even a ‘strategy of success’ as the bill sponsored by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is requesting from it. As a result, the U.S. is presently experiencing its second no-win war in Asia in the last four decades with 1,730 U.S. soldiers dead as the price of President Bush’s departure from Ronald Reagan’s time-honored victory strategy for winning wars.
One wonders how many more American soldiers will have to die before Bush decides upon a strategy for success and a realistic and most importantly an achievable definition of victory? Given the President’s obstinacy and refusal to consider even a limited strategic withdrawal from Iraq, the answer is probably thousands more. Based on the latest casualty rates, we are presently losing about eighty troops a month or nearly a thousand dead a year with no end in sight. Unlike the administration forecasted, the election of a democratically-elected Islamist Shiite regime has done nothing to stem the violence which the Pentagon reports is just as intense as it was one year ago if not more so. In fact, the ascension of the new Islamist-led regime to power in Baghdad may have actually exacerbated the situation by encouraging the Sunni resistance to intensify their fight against a regime which appears to be connected to Shiite militia assassinations of Sunni clerics.
With President Bush’s approval rating having sunk to all-time lows for his Presidency in the low-40’s and with support for his Iraq policy down to 39% in the latest Zogby poll, it is time for the administration to consider a badly-needed course correction in Iraq which is designed to shore up their popular support with the American people. Such a strategy must include both an achievable and realistic strategy of success and an exit strategy so the American people have a good idea for when the troops will be coming home and whether in fact the war can be won as many congressman are now beginning to insist on.
The latest Gallup poll found that 59 percent of those surveyed said some or all U.S. forces should be withdrawn and 56 percent say the war was not worth fighting in the first place. Of those who say the war wasn’t worth it, the top reasons cited are fraudulent claims and no weapons of mass destruction found; the number of people killed and wounded; and the belief that Iraq posed no threat to the United States. The Gallup poll is consistent with other recent surveys that show growing concern about the war. In a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press in mid-June, 46 percent of those surveyed supported an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. In an ABC News-Washington Post poll last week, two-thirds said the U.S. military was bogged down in Iraq, and nearly three-quarters called the casualty level unacceptable.
In the same poll, four out of ten Americans said they saw parallels between the war in Iraq and the war in Vietnam, the last no-win counterinsurgency war which the U.S. fought in Asia which became the pre-eminent example of how not to fight a war and which served as a scathing defeat which damaged the American psyche for nearly two decades to come. Fifty-two percent of Americans believe that the Iraq war has not served to increase U.S. national security. It may be remembered that we lost the Vietnam War following a loss of popular support for the war although that was not the cause of our defeat, but rather a symptom of the fact that we were losing the counterinsurgency war there just as we are losing the counterinsurgency war in Iraq today.
According to respected conservative journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave, recently retired U.S. generals, speaking off the record with journalists they have known since they were junior officers in Vietnam 35 years ago, have concluded that the war in Iraq has broken the back of the U.S. military. Last month, the US Army fell 44 percent short of its recruiting goals, an all-time low since the post-Vietnam all volunteer military was instituted a few decades ago, while procurement of new weapons and overall readiness are also at their lowest level during the past quarter century. Fully on-third of the United States Army is currently bogged down fighting a counterinsurgency war in Iraq. As a result, if Communist China or North Korea were to take advantage of the U.S. being bogged down in the no-win war in Iraq to invade their neighbors, the U.S. would be militarily unprepared to meet their aggression.
Richard A. Clarke, former top counterterrorist official at the White House, wrote in last week’s New York Times magazine, “One victim of this slow bleeding in Iraq,” says Mr. Clarke, “is the American military as an institution. Across America, the National Guard, designed to assist civil authorities in domestic crises is in tatters. … Now the rot is beginning to spread into the regular Army. Recruiters are coming up dry, and some, under pressure to produce new troops, have reportedly been complicit in suspect applications.” By the end of President Bush’s term, Mr. Clarke writes, “the war in Iraq could end up costing $600 billion, more than six times what some key Pentagon officials had projected.” Of course, the cost in the lives of American soldiers could reach several thousand young men and women during the next three and one-half years. Ironically, while the neocons in the Bush administration as well as many Republicans in Congress continue to blindly condemn sensible calls by House conservatives for a U.S. withdrawal as ‘cutting and running’, more reasonable analysts have concluded that a withdrawal of U.S. occupation troops from Iraq is one of the best things that we could do to take the wind out of the insurgency.
“Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.”
David T Pyne currently serves as DUV-PAC Chairman, President of the Utah Republican Assembly, and as Vice President for the Association of the United States Army’s Utah Chapter. A former national security expert, he has served as President of the Center for the National Security Interest, worked as a defense contractor and International Programs Manager, as an International Analyst for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Department of the Navy, and as a Research Assistant for the Center for Security Policy.