If you haven't read any posts by Michael Yon, I would gently yet firmly push you to his site:
This guy is a wonderfully talented writer. He is a military veteran so he sees the war in Iraq through different eyes than other journalists without that life experience. He was in Iraq for most of 2005 and now is back to devote 2007 to being on the ground there again. What I respect the most of his writing is that he is out with the troops and writing the unvarnished accounting of the missions.
"But I don't do this work to espouse a point of view, or rally people to the right or left. Some people might find that statement disingenuous. I've been criticized for using terms like terrorist and enemy in my dispatches. Most critics are a safe distance from the background. Up close, its more than a matter of taking sides. There's no value in using imprecise language in a futile attempt to appear objective." Yon writes as a professional. Fair and balanced, just as I like it. I try to look at both sides of an argument and make up my own mind, thank you very much.
A poll taken earlier in the week shows 45% of those responding agree that Iraq is our most important national issue. A significent portion of the population is not in favor of the plan for a troop surge in Baghdad. Yet, 63% want the new plan to succeed and 61% agree it is Iraq's last chance. Iraqis must find it in themselves to rise to the occassion and take over their own country. Make their own destiny.
I think the poll shows the absolute complexity of the battle for Baghdad. I think it is easy to sit in our comfy chairs and spout all kinds of opinions. It is far wiser to listen to what those there and those recently home have to say. I am heartened to learn the new Secretary of Defense, Bob Gates, is again in country, this time in Basra. I hope this will give him a clearer vision of what is going on and lead to sound advice to the president and his people.
Bumper sticker mentality is easy. Thinking a little deeper into issues and the big picture, the implications of the future, requires an open mind and the desire to look at all options.
We can argue over whether or not it was prudent to go into Iraq and dispose of Saddam. I didn't think it was the way to go, going in with troops and all. I thought it would be far better for special ops or a similiar team to go in and take him out. But I also know, from my husband's accounts of his trip to Iraq in 2003, just before the war, that the country was a completely closed society with nothing but suspicion of foreigners. Americans. The buzz in the hotel in Baghdad where my husband stayed as a base for moving around to different regions was all about the fact that there was an American guest there. Was he a spy? Was he friend or foe?
Some argue that Iran and North Korea pose a greater threat and should have been dealt with first. Well, that has proven to be true. Now. Not then. Remember the State of the Union speech naming the Axis of Evil, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea? All the hubbub from those more interested in politically correct speech than the truth? At the time, with the intelligence available to the U.S. and countries around the world, Iraq was thought to be the greater danger. The intelligence was flawed and Saddam certainly had time to move everything out of his country and bury the rest. He continued to not abide by the 17 U.N. resolutions and he continued to shoot at our fighter jets patrolling the no-fly zone.
So, prudent or not, the war in Iraq was set into play. Mistakes were made and that is how it is in all war. Some decisions proved wrong.... And that is how it is in all war. We are there. The people of Iraq are scared we will stay and scared we will leave. And now we have Democrat politicians, emboldened by the president's poll numbers, bringing forth legislation to cut funding to the military. Some want to cut funds so that the policy of the surge will not be able to go forth. Some want to cut funds so that the military must leave now.
From Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe: "Edward Kennedy likes to label Iraq "George Bush's Vietnam", as he did last week when he introduced legislation to give Congress the final say on troop levels in Iraq.
Bush played no role in the fall of South Vietnam and Cambodia to the Communists in 1975, of course. But Kennedy did. He helped lead the congressional drive to cut off financial aid to the pro-American governments in Saigon and Phnom Penh, brushing aside President Gerald Ford's warning that "the horror and the tragedy that we see on television" would only grow worse if America deserted its allies.
But Kennedy and the Democrats spurned Ford, and the result was unspeakable agony -- Cambodia's killing fields, Vietnam's re-education camps, waves of "boat people" hurling themselves into the sea. Having seen the results of U.S. abandonment in Indochina, how can Kennedy advocate the same policy in Iraq" "If we cease to help our friends in Indochina, Ford said, we will ... have been false to ourselves, to our word, and to our friends. No one should think for a moment that we can walk away from that without a deep sense of shame." Ford, a decent man, couldn't imagine deliberately abandoning a friend in dire straits. Kennedy, it seems, isn't so inhibited."
Kennedy to Iraqis : Sink or swim.
Go read Michael Yon.