Slime & defend hits John Murtha

In Republican fantasyland, calling for more troops to win the war in Iraq is a nearly treasonous call to “cut and run.”

John Murtha of Pennsylvania, the prototype conservative Democratic hawk, says the war in Iraq can’t be won using current resources and tactics:

“The direction has got be changed or it is unwinnable.”

He adds that since losing would be bad, we need to add more troops so we can win.

This view isn’t actually very different from the view expressed by Robert Kagan and William Kristol in the neocons’ bible, The Weekly Standard:

Iraq could be lost if the Bush administration holds to the view that it can press ahead with its political and military strategy without any dramatic change of course, without taking bold and visible action to reverse the current downward trajectory.

However, Murtha’s Republican colleagues unhesitatingly went into slime & defend mode:

Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, the majority leader, accused Murtha of participating in a “calculated and craven political stunt.”

“The Democrats are quitting, calling the war unwinnable while we have our men and women and their families sacrificing every day” charged Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

Democrats are “basically giving aid and comfort to the enemy,” echoed Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas.

Delay wasn’t finished:

Those remarks incensed House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, who accused Democrats of using the abuse case to “surrender in the war on terror.”

“To say this morning, while our troops are under enemy fire, while American blood is flowing on the battlefield, that this war is unwinnable is an insult to every man and woman who has ever fought and sacrificed under the flag of this nation,” DeLay said.

And there’s more:

[Delay] said Democrats “want to win the White House more than they want to win the war, and our enemies know it.

I’d say it’s pretty noble of DeLay, who (unlike Murtha) never actually “fought and sacrificed under the flag of this nation,” to be so concerned about the feelings of those who did.

No shame? No shame, at long last?

Murtha isn’t alone in thinking things aren’t going well:

Army Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, who spent much of the year in western Iraq, said he believes that at the tactical level at which fighting occurs, the U.S. military is still winning. But when asked whether he believes the United States is losing, he said, “I think strategically, we are.”

Army Col. Paul Hughes, who last year was the first director of strategic planning for the U.S. occupation authority in Baghdad, said he agrees with that view and noted that a pattern of winning battles while losing a war characterized the U.S. failure in Vietnam. “Unless we ensure that we have coherency in our policy, we will lose strategically,” he said in an interview Friday.

“I lost my brother in Vietnam,” added Hughes, a veteran Army strategist who is involved in formulating Iraq policy. “I promised myself, when I came on active duty, that I would do everything in my power to prevent that [sort of strategic loss] from happening again. Here I am, 30 years later, thinking we will win every fight and lose the war, because we don’t understand the war we’re in.”

I guess Gen. Swannack and Col. Hughes must be more of those partisan Democrats who are making so much trouble these days.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

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