Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I'm a columnist. Sorta.

A turd in the academic punch bowl

Among other things, I am now a contributor to the University of South Alabama Vanguard. I offered up a piece vis-a-vis the House's recent Non-Binding resolution over Iraq:

It is unwise of Congress to tie up legislative time and effort voting on a "non-binding" resolution while hostilities continue in Iraq. The middle of a protracted armed conflict is no place for talk and half-measures, but for solutions.

This sort of legislation does nothing to alleviate the burdens that are already carried by 137,000 American service members currently serving in Iraq. The non-binding resolution also casts doubt among service members of Congress' good will and support for them, discourages potential allies and proclaims to our enemies that America lacks the political will to finish what it starts.

A non-binding resolution is just that. It does not obligate the current administration to act. CBS Congressional correspondent Sharyl Atkisson once likened a non-binding resolution to "a political dare." If Congress is going to spend time on the issue, they should engage in serious debate by offering legislation that requires action. Congress should offer their own alternatives to end hostilities without leaving Iraq in greater chaos than it faces now.

So far, nobody in the House has proposed an alternative other than gradually de-funding the war effort - Rep. Murtha has reportedly called this travesty of a proposal a "slow-bleed" plan - and leaving Iraq to fend for itself. Nobody seems to be willing to consider a credible military presence that will last long enough to see Iraq fully stabilized and able to function on its own.

There is inherent hypocrisy in opposition to an increase in the armed presence in Iraq. From the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003 until former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's resignation last November, the Bush Administration faced constant criticism that it had not deployed enough troops to successfully stabilize Iraq.

Recently, an increase in the troop presence in Iraq was ordered. The administration's opponents promptly began falling over one another condemning the decision. This stance ignores the fact that the proposed "surge" tallies with advice that Bush's critics have offered repeatedly over the last four years.

More alarming is the potential effect the resolution has on morale in the ranks by conveying to the services that Congress is unwilling to ensure complete success in Iraq. To the uniformed mind, that can be interpreted as official lack of confidence in the abilities of our Armed Forces. Is that a message we should convey to men and women under fire? "Hey, we want the political benefits of saying we support you, but when push comes to shove, we'll sacrifice you for our own convenience."

Finally, what does this tell the world? Potential allies can be discouraged from aiding us by witnessing our lack of will to finish what we start. Enemies witness this same shortage and perceive weaknesses that they can exploit. Osama Bin Laden is on record stating that he was convinced of American weakness when the United States withdrew in disarray from Somalia in 1993. Operation Iraqi Freedom is far larger in scale and importance than 1993's Operation Restore Hope. If we permit a larger operation to fail, our enemies may believe the weakness to be greater. Will this convince our enemies that we are weak enough to be attacked again?

It is pernicious to authorize the assignment of men and women to service under fire, only to pass legislation that has a negative impact on already strained morale. Moreover, it is a waste of Congressional time and resources to offer no useful alternatives to the problem. Possible allies may reconsider the wisdom of helping an America that fails to live up to promises of support. Current and future enemies can only be encouraged by America's lack of stomach for protracted struggles.

1 comment:

steve said...

Sometimes I think it is pure folly to continue down a road you should never have gotten on and then I read something like this- very well stated Citizen and Bravo-the whole deal is indeed a turd in the Punchbowl- not your excellent words.