Monday, November 21, 2005

The Third Camp

The Moose defines his camp in the debate over the war.

A confrontation with Saddam was inevitable in the aftermath of 9/11. No President would have tolerated the behavior of a madman who had initiated two wars, possessed WMD and was the primary source of instability in the region which was the home of Jihadism. Indeed, President Clinton was forced to take military action against Iraq even before the terrorist attack.

Having stipulated this, the Bush Administration executed the occupation of Iraq in the worst possible manner. The President rushed to war without a plan for the post war period and with insufficient troops and resources. And time and time again, the President failed to heed the concerns of supporters of his decision to topple Saddam that a course change was necessary.Despite these errors, it would be both an illusion and folly to abandon Iraq.

Whatever one's views of decision to invade, to withdraw now would constitute a moral travesty and a national security disaster. Do the supporters of withdrawal honesty believe that if we left now we wouldn't have to re-invade at some point in the future? No President would allow Iraq to become a terrorist playground for Zarqawi and his buddies.

Joe Klein makes the salient point,

"Murtha did not talk about the consequences of a precipitous withdrawal. No one really has. The most passionate discussions in Washington last week were about the past—whether the President intentionally misled the country into war—not the future. They are a waste of time. Two questions need to be addressed: Will an American withdrawal from Iraq create more or less stability in the Middle East? Will a withdrawal increase or decrease the threat of another terrorist attack at home? It does not matter whether you believe the war was right or wrong. If the answers to those questions are less stability and an empowered al-Qaeda, we'd better think twice about slipping down this dangerous path."

Democrats should not be deceived by current polls which show the public is increasingly in support of withdrawal. It would be an entirely different matter if America actually left Iraq resulting in a national security disaster. The Democrats would then be branded for many years as the party of defeat and retreat.

While Murtha's position is unwise, his frustrations over the Administration's manifold failures and blunders are completely justified. Moreover, the White House "Michael Moore" and "Josephine McCarthy" Schmidt's (R-OH) attacks on the Congressman are obscene. And the GOP House resolution attempting to undermine Murtha was a puerile stunt unworthy of the institution.

The Third Camp stands between the Administration "stay the course" and the "withdrawal now" forces. It includes both supporters of the decision to go to war and critics. Its leaders include John McCain, Joe Biden and Wes Clark.

While they have different victory strategies, all of these men believe that it would be a disaster to leave Iraq in chaos.This camp is highly critical of the President's failures in the post-war period and argues for a new strategy. This force believes that the White House is losing the moral high ground by failing to take a strong stand against torture and the inhumane treatment of prisoners.

However, the Third Camp is united in the belief that America can only leave when Iraq is relatively stable and a government is in place that can defend itself against the terrorist forces. Some favor more troops, at least temporarily. Others believe that current levels are adequate. Most of all, the Third Camp seeks a bi-partisan national unity that rejects the increasingly bitter polarization over the war. This is not the time to suggest that the President lied or that patriotic critics of the war are treasonous. To paraphrase Congressman Rahm Emanuel, the debate should not be over how we got in but rather how we get out leaving behind a stabilized Iraq.

The difficulty for the Third Campists is that America suffers from a leadership vacuum. For the next three years, we have a President that is incapable of the political imagination and depth. Along with his allies in the Abramoff House of Representatives, W. has successfully polarized the debate and he and the Admnistration are part of a growing minority.Because of the failure of our leadership, we are approaching a national security crisis.

The public has lost faith in this war. Senator Warner and Lugar should immediately call for thorough hearings on this war - President Bush should take the unprecedented step and testify along with the on-the-ground military leaders. At a time of collapsing confidence in this Administration, the President should be explaining and not arguing. Americans deserve a full and complete assessment of the situation. The country has paid too much in both blood and treasure to accept anything less.

What is needed is a bi-partisan coalition to emerge to seize control of this bleak situation - a "coalition of the adults."
-- Posted at 8:15 AM | Link to this post | Email this post