11.22.2004

Friedman Lays An Egg

In his Sunday NYT column, Thomas Friedman -- always hell-bent to make sure he never, ever, ever writes anything that anyone might be able to disagree with, ever -- suggests that troop morale is just ducky in Iraq, and that that alone is reason to have hope that our mission there will succeed. "They'll tell us if it's time to go or stay," he says.

This is the foulest kind of pussyfooted hawk-pandering, and an afront to reason and truth. Why?

Firstly, Friedman bases his sunny opinion on troop morale on two personal encounters, both of which were staged for him. Ample evidence to the contrary, both anecdotal and statistical, exists in both mainstream and alternative sources. One conflicting data point to consider: is it righteous optimism that causes a soldier to blow a wounded combatant's brains out, or is it nihilistic terror and exhaustion?

Secondly, it's one thing to assume that our forces will "tell us" the best course of action; it is another altogether to assume that we will listen. It is certain that we didn't listen on November 2nd.

Thirdly, if they tell us and we listen, what then? What if they tell us it's time to cut and run, and we as a nation agree? Can we trust this administration to heed public opinion?

Finally, consider the words of America's most respected retired military leaders, who offered their own opinions about our so-called "mission" in Iraq, and our likelihood of achieving it (taken from this month's feature by Paul Alexander in Rolling Stone):

- "We have a force in Iraq that's much too small to stabilize the situation." (Gen. Tony McPeak, Air Force Chief of Staff 1990-94)

- "Iraq is a diversion from the war on terror the same way Vietnam was a diversion from the Cold War." (McPeak)

- "It's a huge strategic disaster and it will only get worse." (Lt. Gen William Odom, Director of the NSA, 1985-88)

- "Did we have to do this? I saw the intelligence right up to the day of the war, and I did not see any imminent threat there. If anything, Saddam was coming apart... we had him by the throat." (Gen. Anthony Zinni, CINCOM 1997-2000)

- "Have you seen an American strategic blunder this large? The answer is: not in fifty years." (Gen. Wesley Clark, NATO Supreme Allied Commander, 1997-2000).

- "They thought that once Iraq fell we'd have a similar effect throughout the Middle East and terrorism would evaporate, blah, blah, blah. All of these were terrible assumptions. A State Department study advising otherwise was sent to Rumsfeld, but he threw it in the wastebasket... There is not a very good answer for what to do next." (Adm. William Crowe, 1985-89).

Unless you believe Thomas Friedman, I guess.

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