Publish Exit Plan? Nonsense!

The constant drumbeat by democrats as a whole and not a few republicans regarding the alleged absence of an exit strategy from Iraq approaches treason, described as “the betrayal of a trust: TREACHERY”. No, the purveyors of this mind-deadening mantra are not consciously treasonous, just perhaps well-intended hand-wringers who have never come to grips with the uncertainties, the unexpected, and the un-cooperating elements connected with war, whether declared or some sort of otherwise but necessary action involving deadly conflict. Whereas leaders and ordinary citizens of other generations have understood these things to be an integral part of violent conflict, the current leaders and other citizens, many, if not most, of whom have never had any military experience or any historical connection with the exactions demanded by armed conflict and who are part of the warm-fuzzy, “short attention span” generation are lost balls in the tall weeds. Their constant whining, as was the case in the Vietnam conflict, gives aid and comfort to the enemy, which interprets their caterwauling as indicative of a nation that will sooner rather than later desert its cause.

The pundits have made much of the fact that the administration, while its military surprisingly quickly defeated the Iraqi military, apparently had no clue with regard to the handling of post-battle Iraq. Their barbs have not been without some justification, particularly since both the intelligence and military planners at least seemed to think the Iraqis would welcome their liberators with open arms and high-fives (or manly kisses, a la Arab-style) and join them in speedy reconstruction efforts at self-government and constructive efforts regarding physical infrastructure. However, quite a lot has been accomplished, including an overwhelmingly successful election.

There was an initial modicum of welcome by probably the vast majority of Iraqis, especially Shi'ites and Kurds, but that welcome grew thin in short order, not least because of the almost genetic hatred that Muslims have for everyone else, as well as for each other often (accruing to what Baptists in this country might call doctrinal differences). As has been the case in Iraq, Muslims count killing the infidel, especially an American, as the only act of murder more gratifying than killing each other (making them at least a bit different from the Baptists).

The notion that calculations regarding armed conflict, both during and after its waging, can be determined with specificity is foolish, as found in the lessons of history. In the Civil War, Lincoln went through generals like a knife though hot butter before finding one, U.S. Grant, who had both the will and the skill to fight. Southern General Lee might have done better at Gettysburg, except that his eyes and ears, the cavalry of Jeb Stuart, was unavailable and could not tell him where the Union army was. The bloody battle of Perryville, Ky., was sort of accidental as each army was searching for water. These facts, among a plethora of others, are examples of unintended consequences, notwithstanding all efforts at making accurate calculations.

Perhaps the worst miscalculation of World War II was simply that no one expected the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor on a Sunday morning, especially since Japanese representatives were in Washington that day dealing with an agreement/ultimatum or whatever. In the fall of 1944, American troops in Europe talked of being home by Christmas, but then came the "Battle of the Bulge," the Germans mounting a magnificent offensive that caught the Allies completely by surprise and eventuated in a horrible loss of lives and extending the war deep into 1945. Despite a ferocious bombardment designed to wreck Japanese forces on the island of Iwo Jima, American troops suffered 6,821 deaths in the 36-day battle in February 1945. The Japs, surprisingly, were totally dug in, hardly fazed by the incessant shelling, and nearly all the more than 20,000 of them were killed in the deadly fight to the finish. Who would have thought it?

In 1950, most commanders in Korea shared General MacArthur's confidence during the fall that the Korean Conflict would be over by Christmas. Then came the hordes of Chinese, who MacArthur thought would be used for defense only. He miscalculated and the war dragged on until August 1953, with great loss of American lives. With members of Congress predicting American deaths in the thousands in 1991 in the fight to free Kuwait, the ground war was over in 100 hours, with few casualties. Who would have thought it?

Perhaps the most amazing (at least possible) miscalculation with regard to war was made by President Roosevelt in the late 30s and early 40s when he categorically stated to the nation that Americans would never fight in Europe. The lessons of 1917-18 were instructive at that time, memories of the some 117,000 Americans who were killed in a matter of months in Europe in WWI still indelibly stamped in the national consciousness. By 1942, Americans were fighting overseas virtually all over the world. Either Roosevelt was dead wrong or he misled the nation intentionally, something I refuse to believe. By the time WWII was over in 1945, another 405,000 Americans were dead.

The pundits can afford to be extremist and given to intensive criticism in the overwhelmingly liberal media because they are not required to take responsibility for anything they say. With members of Congress, things are different. In the first place, they should have sense enough to understand that detailing for all the world to see a plan/timetable for the withdrawal of American troops is so foolhardy as to be insane. If they actually believe such a published timetable is necessary, they are in the same league as the proverbial professor who lacks enough common sense to get in out of the rain and enough mechanical skill to open an umbrella. In the second place, they should have a greater sense of loyalty in supporting the effort in Iraq, never mind the shocking but inevitable twists and turns it has taken. The loss of one life is one too many, but they should understand that an average of some 320-330 Americans died every day during both WWI and WWII. The average in Iraq is less than three a day. In other words, both pundits and legislators have no conception of the amazing abilities and technical achievements of the current military establishment…but they should. In short, the legislators should shut up. The pundits have little or no credibility, anyway, so they can rattle on.

This is probably the only armed conflict this country has experienced in which an entrenched political party has engaged in a rancorous partisanship that undermines the military effort, masquerading its rationale for same as some sort of lack by the administration of a PLAN. The nadir in this propaganda barrage perhaps was reached last year when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi declared that (paraphrased) Bush is inexperienced and as dumb as a gourd. Besides making herself look foolish, she discredited her party and the House…and, of course, furnished no details, calculations, or predictions of Iraqi behavior, computerized or otherwise. Even worse, she trivialized the work of those who, unlike her, are voluntarily in harm's way. Disgusting! Most recently, Senator Kennedy, sitting like a bloated bullfrog in a public hearing suggested that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, who knows more in a minute than Kennedy will know in a lifetime, should resign. Imagine that from a loyal senator with the baggage that Kennedy carries. Disgusting!