Rep. John Murtha
(Photo: The Hill)
I caught Congressman John Murtha on Today this morning railing against the war. The trouble is that I have terrible trouble not agreeing (or at least sympathizing) with the point of view of this normally-hawkish former Marine. I was one of the few conservatives within my personal circle to have warned of the possible endless futility of the conflict. The trouble, I said at the time, was not that our forces could not win in the field, the problem is that their fighting would not see an end, because the enemy would not acknowledge or accept defeat.
In this sense, the Iraq insurgents are not terribly different from some former enemies of ours, the Viet Cong. Everyone forgets that the VC's surprise 1968 offensive during the Vietnamese New Year (Tet) actually ended in victory for U.S. and South Vietnamese forces. A lot of people blame the press because many say that the press did not accurately portray the fact that the Tet Offensive was an allied win. However, the reality was that American casualties were high during Tet, and despite the costly loss for the Viet Cong, the Communists carried on as if Tet had never happened. The difficulty in Iraq is that our enemies there are carrying things on as if the American march on Baghdad and the fantasic early victories of the war had never even occured at all.
The issue now is that our forces cannot afford to merely withdraw. The enemy expects this, in fact, and they admit that this is what they are fighting towards. If we withdraw, we send the message that America will cut and run when the business gets nasty. So one way or another, we are stuck...Round and round we go, and where we stop nobody knows.