Monday, January 29, 2007

Jane, You're Playing a Game You Never Can Win, Girl...*

© 2007 APIt's amazing how time changes everything, how a new year, a new Congress invigorates one into thinking that perhaps they were right all along. Or, at least it must seem that way to Jane Fonda.

In a reprise of her antiwar youth, Jane Fonda finally came out and spoke to an antiwar rally in Washington DC last weekend. "I haven't spoken at an antiwar rally in 34 years," she said. But, "Silence is no longer an option."

Oh, yes it is! Hasn't this woman learned anything? After all, she apologized at least twice for her actions supporting the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War, acts which she acknowledged caused harm to other Americans and which gave aid and comfort to the enemy. In other words, treasonous acts that at any other time would have seen her prosecuted. Haven't you learned to keep your ignorant mouth shut yet?

Maybe Jane and her Fellow Travelers should reminisce a little further back, and ponder the words of an American president who was himself attacked for leading the country into an unpopular war, who was savaged by his Democratic opponents, and yet whom, unlike Jane Fonda, was proven to have been on the right side of history:
“If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.” -- Abraham Lincoln
Jane, we know your game. Silence is no longer an option... it's mandatory. Shut the hell up and let the President win the war.

Read this for more on Hanoi Jane and her avowed appetite for her own foot.

*apologies to Jefferson Starship

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

...And the Democratic (Non-) Response

After stewing on James Webb's response to the SOTU overnight, I felt compelled to write about what was said, and as important, what wasn't. I'm going to focus on Iraq because that is the primary subject in front of the country.

Many people who identify as Democrats think that Webb really put the wood to Bush last night. Yes, he was very eager to blame, but was anything really accomplished. I don't see it. Come on! What did Webb really say?

Whether or not you believe invading Iraq was necessary back in 2003 (I do), the fact remains that we did. All of the finger-pointing, blame-gaming, insulting, etc., is irrelevant. Yeah, I know it's red meat for the Democratic base, but it's basically just so much BS. The question is, what do we do now?

Some are urging that we leave Iraq as quickly as possible. They say that achieving our objectives is impossible, that those objectives aren't worth another American's life, or both. Some, e.g. Michael Moore, say that, because we shouldn't have invaded in the first place we deserve to fail and we should give up, retreat, and accept the consequences as our just desserts. What I haven't heard these types fully explain is their understanding and acceptance of what will happen should we heed their urge and abandon Iraq immediately.

Others realize that, as Hillary said (unfortunately not about Iraq), we must be "in it to win it." Whether or not we were right to invade Iraq, whether or not we've made mistakes, we have to deal with reality as it is, not as we wish it would be. And, the reality is that abandoning Iraq would be disastrous for the US and for the rest of the civilized world.

Abandoning Iraq would leave it to be controlled by Iran or by Al Qaeda after a fierce and bloody war and the deaths of hundreds of thousands. Abandoning Iraq would mean we'd leave the sanctuary of a nation-state with hundreds of billions of dollars worth of oil to be used as a resource by those who have repeatedly sworn to destroy us by any available means. Abandoning Iraq would give our sworn enemies a new, and much better base than Afghanistan ever was. Abandoning Iraq means the War on Terror (the war against Islamic extremists of both Sunni and Shia persuasion) would come to our shores, as it did on 9/11.

Webb held up the Korean War and the way it was ended as a desirable solution. The Korean peninsula is a mess today because we didn't finish what they started back in 1950. More than 50,000 Americans died and hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent in Korea over the past half-century. Now, North Korea is frantically working to develop nuclear weapons to go on top of their ballistic missiles, even though they can't feed their population. So, offering the way we handled Korea as being a good way to settle Iraq is woefully ignorant at best, and dishonestly disingeneous at worst.

When I hear Webb mention that the Dems will "show [us] the way" I think about how they showed us the way out of Vietnam... and that way led over killing fields strewn with millions upon millions of bodies. Or, how they showed us the way out of Somalia... and that way led to an emboldened Al Qaeda and increasingly effective terrorist attacks against us culminating on 9/11. We've seen the Democratic way, and it doesn't lead to peace and stability. It leads to war and instability because the Democratic way tells our enemies that we can be attacked with impunity.

Here's the problem in a nutshell: the "cut-and-runners" believe that there's no way we can win in Iraq, there's no way we could win, and that we've already lost so we might as well cut our losses and get out now. This begs the question of why is it that the US can never win a war anymore while the our dilapidated and rag-tag enemies are inevitably victorious? Why is it that the most powerful nation in the history of the world can't win a war, while the weakest and most disorganized states can never lose? Why is it that Ethiopia can completely rout the Islamists in Somalia in a couple of weeks but we can't rout them in Iraq in three years? The answer is obvious... different rules of engagements. We can't win, these people believe, because they can't bring themselves to do what it takes to win.

I used to think James Webb was a smart man. Now, I wonder if he really did learn anything from Vietnam, or is he just embittered and angry and looking for someone or something to, as we rednecks say, whup up on. That's not what the country needs now. Why don't people realize this?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The State of the Union

George Bush gave one of the best speeches of his presidency tonight. It was cogent, coherent, and well-delivered. The question is, was it well-received? Only the pollsters know... maybe.

Watching his speech tonight via a live Internet video stream, I was struck by the reactions of the various members of the audience in the House chamber, especially to Bush's statement of "Whatever the people voted for, they didn't vote for failure [in Iraq]." Unfortunately, the Democrats seem to be circling like sharks smelling blood in the water, Bush's blood. They think he's fatally wounded (and he may be), but Bush isn't giving up yet. "Lame duck" status is a matter of perception, and Bush has the advantage of strength of character; he really doesn't care what people think of him as long as he believes he is on the right path. So... regardless of whether Bush's positions on the issues have merit, too many of his opponents will seek to act in whatever manner gains them the most political advantage whether or not the country is helped or hurt.

I also watched the Democratic response, given by Senator James Webb. Now, I have been a Jim Webb fan ever since I read "Fields of Fire" and especially "A Sense of Honor" while I was an NROTC midshipman. I thought George Allen's attack on Webb based upon the father/son scene in "Lost Soldiers" was pathetic; it cost Allen the election as it should have. However, James Webb the Senator is not as impressive as James Webb the author, or James Webb the Vietnam-era Marine war hero. In many ways it seems he has become the type of politician he reviled in "Something To Die For" when he pontificates on the mistakes that were made as "reckless" instead of acknowledging that mistakes are the "friction of war" as von Clausewitz noted.

Hindsight is 20/20, as the saying goes. Two years later, it's blindingly obvious what should have been done in the aftermath of the Iraq War; declare martial law, clamp down on Iraq as we did in post-WWII Germany and Japan, set up the country as a US protectorate and get the civil institutions up and running before we turned Iraq back over to its citizens. However, at the time, there was little popular support for a long occupation just as after the Clinton Administration there were insufficient numbers of troops to successfully fully occupy Iraq while meeting our commitments across the globe. More important, what is accomplished by continually harping on our mistakes and publicly threatening the Administration with a Congressional fight over the war? Yes, I know it's good for partisan political advantage, but is it good for the country? Imagine how much harder it would have been for FDR to fight World War II if the Republicans had continually pointed out the mistakes that were made, from failing to reinforce Wake Island, to letting the Philippines fall, to the disasters in the Solomon Islands, Anzio, etc. We would not have won that war in this political climate.

Do I think the surge in Iraq will work? Evidently both Al Qaeda and al Sadr do; the former has evacuated Baghdad knowing that to stand and fight means losing, the latter is desperately trying anything and everything to avoid the coming smackdown. The problem I have with the Democrats and their views on the surge is, as John Kerry so aptly put it, they were for it until they were against it. There is no reason to the Democratic opposition to Bush's plans, unless one considers it acceptable to seek partisan advantage by any means necessary regardless of the troops it endangers and the harm it does to the country.

The Republicans lost the Congress because they failed to live up to their campaign promises and took their constituencies for granted. "Where else are they going to go?" was the attitude. The Republican leadership knew that most conservatives wouldn't vote for liberal Democrats. What they forgot is that their base might not go anywhere and choose to stay home and not vote at all. This is what happened in 2006; the Republican turnout was very light while the Democratic base showed up at the polls and voted. The same thing happened in 1992, with the same results (the GOP lost everything). However, I don't think 2006 portends a continuance of Democratic Congressional rule after 2008. Just as they did in 1992, the Democrats are well on their way of reminding the voters why they were kicked out in the first place, and we all know what happened in 1994.

Despite their missteps and blunders, the Republicans have brought the country a long way from where it was in 2000, from the start of a recession with an administration that refused to face the oncoming economic and terrorist storms. We weathered the recession and 9/11, and the country is stronger with more jobs, a better economy, and reduced deficits. The terrorists who were gaining strength in 2000 have been largely obliterated and the few that are left are hiding in holes in remote regions of the world. Most of us no longer worry about terrorist attacks on our country, and that goes a long way to explain why Democrats won (we don't se the threat). But our troubles and travails aren't over yet, despite wishful thinking on the part of the majority of Americans.

So, the State of the Union is that we are both stronger, and blinder, than we have been in a long time. We have a president who still believes we are threatened, and not only does the opposition disagree but many from his own party are starting to distance themselves as well.

Who's right? Unfortunately, I think we'll find out sooner rather than later.