RTFR has posted a lengthy rebuttal to my earlier comment on his blog regarding his posting about Cindy Sheehan. My comment got larger and went after the reasons (or lack thereof) given for the war in Iraq.
This is my reply to his response.
OK. So you claim that you regret the loss of every casualty in this war. But then you turn and state that, since Cindy Sheehan previously objected to the lack of justification and objectives for this war, her loss of her son in Sadr City gives her no special standing to demand an explanation for his death from the man who sent him there.
Really? Who cares what her previous position on the war was? She paid the highest price any mother can pay for this war which, as nearly as I can determine, was nothing more than an attempt by Bush and Cheney to intimidate the Iranians, overawe the Muslims in the Middle East with out unsurpassed military power, and remove an irritating but non-threatening dictator. The latter goal seems to me to justify us going after Robert Mugabe, too. But those goals are mere supposition on my part because Bush/Cheney has never presented a serious and believable case for the war since their WMD lies fell apart under the light of truth.
What sacrifice have you made for this war? Do you have any real reason to care if we are fighting in Iraq? Nothing, and no. No matter what Cindy Sheehan's previous view of the war was, she has paid as high a price as a mother can pay. She has a right to demand a justification from the people who wanted this war so badly that they lied, cheated, and who knows? Even stole? to start it and invade Iraq.
We all have that right, but she has paid more than most of us to ask that question. And what answer do any of us get? Pure political pablum. Our soldiers and Marines are dying for truth, justice and American way of life. They are dying to take freedom to the Iraqis. [Hey? What about Zimbabwe? Don't they deserve freedom too?]
Why should I give her a megaphone? [You overrate my traffic on my web magazine, I fear.] Because I want the people who started this abortion of a war to explain why and to take responsibility for what they did.
You undermine your entire case when you state "If it hasn't been honestly explained, then who are you to judge whether or not it's worthwhile? Wouldn't you need to know the explanation in order to make that determination?" You are admitting the war has NOT been adequately explained, and that without that explanation the public cannot make a reasonable cost/benefit judgment that supports the lives and treasure we are wasting in the sands of Iraq.
Cindy Sheehan and her son Casey have paid the cost. What is the benefit that offsets it? "Freedom in Iraq?" That hasn't been enough justification for us to invade Zimbabwe, Cuba, or the rather nasty dictatorships north of Afghanistan whose names contain too many consonants and "Z's" to be pronounceable.
Your argument that we cannot now unilaterally withdraw because Iraq will collapse if we do ignores the fact that it was our initial invasion that caused the instability there in the first place. Essentially it is an argument that as long as we are fighting there, we have not lost. That is the same argument that kept the U.S. in an unwinnable war in Southeast Asia for way too long. It is no better as an argument now. Essentially your argument is that we are fighting because we are fighting.
Bush still needs to stand accountable for the invasion that set all of this mess into play, and at least honestly explain why he decided to destroy Iraq, spend $5 billion per month and an cause increasing number and rate of both American and Iraqi deaths and casualties in the process. I think Cindy Sheehan has the right to demand that Bush stand accountable for his failure. So far he and the entire right have been remarkably capable of avoiding accountability for the actions of this President.
Your attempt to blame Casey Sheehan for his own death because he volunteered to join the marines is disgusting. I don't care what the source of a soldier or marine is, volunteer, draft or what. You don't waste their lives and then try to blame them for their own deaths. You don't waste their lives - period!
As a commissioned officer I was taught to accomplish the mission and to protect my troops. When there is no mission, then troops protection is the top priority.
We have NO MISSION in Iraq! We are just THERE! Our presence is bringing out the insurents and causing a large number of the population to at least passively support the insurgents. We don't have enough reliable troops on the ground to pacify the place, and we don't have a strategy for using our inadequate forces to win - we don't even have a decent set of objectives that define winning.
Instead we have a hope. We hope the Iraqi government we have installed [to replace the one we unnecessarily destroyed] can get together to agree on the structure of a new government. They just missed the deadline for agreeing on a Constitution because the Iraqi powers cannot agree on a single think that was to go into the Constitution. There is no reasonable indication that will change. There will be a document produced, but it will be dead-on-arrival. But that doesn't really matter. There is a deadline, and it is next Summer.
Regarding the proposal that we unilaterally withdraw from Iraq, I don't propose that. I predict it.
We will be effectively out of Iraq by September 2006 regardless of the cost to Iraq or anyone else. One reason is that the U.S. military is now on the edge of destruction because of the war in Iraq and because of the refusal of the Bush administration to make a case for focusing American resources on winning the war there. See Politics Plus Stuff for one significant reason (and to give me more traffic!) If you want to see what I think will happen in Iraq, go Here.
The biggest casualty of our unilateral withdrawal is not going to be in Iraq. It will be here when the Bush administration is blamed for the failure of their actions.
Your accusation that failure to support this abortion of a war will benefit terrorists ignores the fact that it is the very existence of this war that has provided the greatest support for the terrorists. Had the U.S. not invaded Iraq, Osama bin Laden would have faded into the mountains of Pakistan and into obscurity. [I supported and still support the war in Afghanistan.]With more resources and greater international cooperation focused on him, Osama might even have been captured by now. Bush, Cheney and the invasion of Iraq have been his biggest promoters.
The battle against terrorists will progress no more badly once we are out of Iraq than it is now. Any allegation to the contrary from you is mere political rhetoric which you cannot support.
Yours is a very weak justification for our continuing to fight a war we didn't need to fight in the first place, at very high cost to both America and Iraq, and with little or no prospect of gain as an outcome. Cindy Sheehan's presence in Crawford is an effort to get Bush to take responsibility for his screw-up. She puts a face on the effort, and your objection to her is based in her effectivness at personalizing the general disgust at the failed voluntary Bush War and the public demand that he take responsiblity for his clear failure in Iraq.
My comment regarding Rumsfeld's attitude on the capabilities of airpower to win wars was, as you suggest, a reflection of my bias against a long-term attitude that I have seen held by military aviators since WW II. My bias, however, results from recognition that the promises of airpower have never panned out strategically. That is not to say that strategic and tactical bombing is not highly successful. It just does not win ground wars. [It is, however, the key to surface naval combat since WW II.]
The aviators oversold strategic bombing in WW II, they oversold the potential of strategic and tactical bombing in the 50's, and the invention of smart bombs has brought the same argument back again. Rumsfeld's history as a naval aviator from the 50's and 60's makes it very reasonable to associate him with this on-going argument.
As powerful as military bombing has been and continues to be, there is no historical evidence that it ever won a war without boots on the ground to follow it up. Efficient airpower has been oversold, and I suspect that it contributed to Rumsfeld's failure to adequately plan for the post-combat occupation in Iraq.
Speculation regarding Rumsfeld's attitude on my part? Of course.
Everything about this administration is speculation. They have brought secrecy to a high art, and many of the things they do tell the public have been shown to have little connection with fact. They tell us very little and their history of omissions and lies make it unreasonable to ever believe the little they do tell us unless we can get independent corroboration.
We Americans are the new Kremlin watchers, except that instead of the Kremlin we are applying the same techniques to the White House.