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Friday, November 18, 2005

"It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion."
-- Rep. John Murtha, yesterday

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The president himself has said it's "ok to debate the conduct of the war," so let's do that. The mess they have created is so big it's almost impossible to know where to begin. Simply put, it's been an absolute disaster on all fronts. We'll let Rep. John Murtha take it from there. I encourage you to read the full text of Murtha's bombshell (or watch it at C&L), but here are some of the more salient passages:

The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We can not continue on the present course...

The war in Iraq has caused huge shortfalls at our bases in the U.S. Much of our ground equipment is worn out and in need of either serious overhaul or replacement. George Washington said, "To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace." We must rebuild our Army. Our deficit is growing out of control. The Director of the Congressional Budget Office recently admitted to being "terrified" about the budget deficit in the coming decades. This is the first prolonged war we have fought with three years of tax cuts, without full mobilization of American industry and without a draft. The burden of this war has not been shared equally; the military and their families are shouldering this burden.

Our military has been fighting a war in Iraq for over two and a half years. Our military has accomplished its mission and done its duty. Our military captured Saddam Hussein, and captured or killed his closest associates. But the war continues to intensify. Deaths and injuries are growing, with over 2,079 confirmed American deaths. Over 15,500 have been seriously injured and it is estimated that over 50,000 will suffer from battle fatigue. There have been reports of at least 30,000 Iraqi civilian deaths...

I am disturbed by the findings in key indicator areas. Oil production and energy production are below pre-war levels. Our reconstruction efforts have been crippled by the security situation. Only $9 billion of the $18 billion appropriated for reconstruction has been spent. Unemployment remains at about 60 percent. Clean water is scarce. Only $500 million of the $2.2 billion appropriated for water projects has been spent. And most importantly, insurgent incidents have increased from about 150 per week to over 700 in the last year. Instead of attacks going down over time and with the addition of more troops, attacks have grown dramatically. Since the revelations at Abu Ghraib, American casualties have doubled. An annual State Department report in 2004 indicated a sharp increase in global terrorism...

Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our OBLIGATION to speak out for them. That's why I am speaking out. Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.
Thank you Mr. Murtha. Thank you for speaking out. Would've liked to have seen this speech 13 months ago, but still, thank you.

While I’m not entirely convinced that an immediate withdrawal is the best solution (my heart says it is, but my pragmatic side still wavers), it’s important we stop glossing over just how royally f’ed up the Bush/Cheney policy has been. What the president and his supporters fail to realize when firing back at the opposition is that, in most cases, it's the management of the war, the conduct, that concerns us most. Sure, the rationale for the war itself is of more-than-questionable merit, and it's important to figure out just how we got there, but now that we're in it, ending the mismanagement and firing the people responsible for putting us there is step #1 toward a better solution.

The people responsible for this mess need to be immediately removed so that we don't make a horrible situation worse. This administration failed to understand the repercussions of what it was about to do. They cherry-picked intelligence and seized on post-9/11 fear and anger to manipulate the masses into supporting them. They shortchanged the effort by trying to do it ‘on the cheap’. They failed massively to properly prepare for the aftermath. They’ve set the ‘hearts and minds’ effort back a decade by turning a blind eye and allowing policies of torture to fester throughout the rank and file. And they have rigidly refused to change course despite the obvious failures and miscalculations inherent in their original policy. They shouldn’t be allowed to make any more decisions. They have to go. Now.

Once we get even semi-competent, realistic, non-ideological people in charge, we can have a real discussion about how to proceed and responsibly pull out without sinking ourselves (and Iraq) further into the swamp. And the key cog to this entire group of dangerous Neocons is, say it with me, Big Dick Cheney. He’s the ideological crazy glue holding the entire cabal together. Get rid of him, and we can start moving in a better direction.

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C&L: Murtha Video
Cole: Blowin' in the Wind
RS: The Man Who Sold the War
WaPO: Iraq Critics Meet Familiar Reply
Catch: The Sliming of Murtha has begun

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