Five-term Congressman Brian Baird, D-Washington:
"One, I think we're making real progress."
"Secondly, I think the consequences of pulling back precipitously would be potentially catastrophic for the Iraqi people themselves, to whom we have a tremendous responsibility … and in the long run chaotic for the region as a whole and for our own security."
And this, despite the fact that our soldiers are following rules of engagement that have gotten them killed. Diane West:
On a treeless mountainside far from home, four of our bravest patriots came to the ghastly conclusion that the only way to save themselves was forbidden by the ROE. Such an action would set off a media firestorm, and lead to murder charges for all.
It is agonizing to read their tense debate as recounted by Marcus Luttrell, the "lone survivor" of the disastrous mission. Each of the SEALs was aware of "the strictly correct military decision" -- namely, that it would be suicide to let the goatherds live. But they were also aware that their own country, for which they were fighting, would ultimately turn on them if they made that decision. It was as if committing suicide had become the only politically correct option. For fighting men ordered behind enemy lines, such rules are not only insane, they're immoral.
The SEALs sent the goatherds on their way. One hour later, a sizeable Taliban force attacked, beginning a horrendous battle that resulted not only in the deaths of Mr. Luttrell's three SEAL teammates, but also the deaths of 16 would-be rescuers -- eight additional SEALs and eight Army special operations soldiers whose helicopter was shot down by a Taliban RPG.
Reading this, the daily military victories by our armed forces in the middle east seem an ever greater feat. But as Michael Yon notes, we're not winning through force alone:
Large numbers of Iraqis detested us after the prisoner abuse stories, and some over-the-top attacks on Fallujah, for example. But through time, somehow the American military has managed to establish a moral authority in Iraq. It’s not the only authority, but the military has serious and increasing moral clout. In the beginning, our influence flowed from guns, or dropped from the wings of jets. Later it was the money. Today, the clout still is partially from the gun, and definitely the money is key, but there is an intangible and growing moral clout and it flows from an increasing respect among Iraqis for our military. Washington has no moral clout in Iraq. Washington looks like a circus act. The authority is coming from our military. The importance of this fact would be difficult to overstate.
But that's not to say force will not work: “Quick Strikes” Planned To Decimate Al Qaeda In Iraq
“If we can, we want to finish them off,” Lt. General Odierno said of al-Qaida.
Until the millennium arrives and countries cease trying to enslave others, it will be necessary to accept one’s responsibilities and to be willing to make sacrifices for one’s country — as my comrades did. As the troops used to say, “If the country is good enough to live in, it’s good enough to fight for.” With privilege goes responsibility.
~ E.B. Sledge