Thursday, February 15, 2007

Support the Troops, Oppose the Mission? Democrats Need New Tactic.

The Wall Street Journal blasts Congress for the non-binding resolution opposing the Iraq troop surge. The Journal’s opinion is pretty straight-forward:

1) The resolution emboldens the enemy by signaling that the U.S. Congress expects defeat.

2) It’s a cowardly move to rhetorically oppose the mission but effectively do nothing to stop the surge.

The most convincing argument:

[I]f Congress feels so strongly about the troops, it arguably has the power to start removing them from harm's way by voting to cut off the funds they need to operate in Iraq. But that would make Congress responsible for what followed--whether those consequences are Americans killed in retreat, or ethnic cleansing in Baghdad, or the toppling of the elected Maliki government by radical Shiite or military forces. The one result Congress fears above all is being accountable.

We aren't prone to quoting the young John Kerry, but this week's vote reminds us of the comment the antiwar veteran told another cut-and-run Congress in the early 1970s: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" The difference this time is that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and John Murtha expect men and women to keep dying for something they say is a mistake but also don't have the political courage to help end.

This is where the Democrat’s “support the troops, not the war” position reveals its true emptiness. It’s always been impossible to support the troops without also supporting their mission. You may fervently pray for the troops’ safety and wish for their speedy return but that is not support. That is compassion. Support requires a commitment to the mission and an expectation of success.

It’s ok to be compassionate but not offer support, but Democrats won’t say as much because they’re afraid of being labeled weak on defense. So now, when the moment has come to make a real impact on this war, the Dems are paralyzed. Withdrawing funds certainly indicates a lack of support for the troops. But saying nothing about the surge indicates a lack of opposition to the mission.

The result is the impotent non-binding resolution … an official scolding that does nothing to deter Bush. Does it also embolden the enemy? That sounds to me like political posturing, a tired accusation pro-war sides always fling at the anti-war side. In reality, our failure to effectively combat the insurgents/terrorists/sectarian evildoers has done far more to embolden the enemy than will this resolution.

But that doesn’t make the resolution any less of a bad idea. If Democrats believe we are destined for failure, they need to pull the plug and take responsibility for the fallout. If they think we can still secure some form of victory, they need to allow the military and the Commander-in-Chief to do what they think is necessary to win – or, at the very least, if Democrats “support the troops,” they need to propose alternatives that don’t involve a total retreat and abandonment of all facets of the mission.

Personally, I think the surge is the wrong tactic. But I’m not resigned to defeat so I support this last attempt to secure some form of victory. I wish the President had chosen a different path but I am not yet prepared to move into the anti-war camp.

The question now is, when will the Democrats be ready to be anti-war? Their support the troops, oppose the mission philosophy is just an excuse for refusing to take responsibility. They’re trying to split the middle on an issue that has no middle. Now’s the time to either cut off funds or stop declaring American defeat.

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