Clear, Hold and Build- UPDATED!
The original content of this post begins below. Several kind readers managed to find the article which inspired this piece (I promptly mis-filed it after reading it the first time) and so I can now call this post complete. Thank you to those who posted or sent me the link. The article is entitled America-haters turn a blind eye to the killers in Iraq- you'll find another updated reference to it below. Note this post has been cross-blogged at The Intelligence Summit and is included in the Open Posts: Weekend Edition at The California Conservative
Secretary of State Rice once again today reinforced my belief that she is the right person, in the right place, at the right tome, for the job. Questioned by the Senate today on an "exit strategy" for Iraq, Dr. Rice put forth the idea that the goal of our strategy in Iraq is to “Clear areas from insurgent control, to hold them securely, and to build durable, national Iraqi institutions." She then stood her ground, and gave excellent answers to ridiculous questions. Case in point
:"I'm not looking for a date to get out of Iraq," Senator Joseph Biden, the top Democrat on the panel, said. "But at what point, assuming the strategy works, do you think we'll be able to see some sign of bringing some American forces home?"
Said Dr. Rice "When the job is done, and the Iraqi people have a land cleared of terrorists, held free, and with strongly built Iraqi institutions."
OK, she didn't say that- what she said was "I don't want to hazard what I think would be a guess, even if it were an assessment, of when that might be possible."
Why would she give an answer like that? Because it is the truth, she can not see into the future any more than Biden or anyone else can.
In something approaching the court room scene in A Few Good Men
Senator Barbara Boxer tossed out this gem
:"Our country is sick at heart at the spin and false expectations," Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., told Rice. "They want the truth and they deserve it."
Dr. Rice then gave them the truth:Rice said Iraq's police and Army forces are becoming better able to handle the country's security without U.S. help, and she repeated President Bush's warning that setting a timetable for withdrawal plays into terrorists' hands."The terrorists want us to get discouraged and quit," Rice said. "They believe we do not have the will to see this through."
The question is: can they handle it? Even Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind) got into the act
:"We should recognize that most Americans are focused on an exit strategy in Iraq," said Lugar, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman. "Even if withdrawal timelines are deemed unwise because they might provide a strategic advantage to the insurgency, the American people need to more fully understand the basis upon which our troops are likely to come home."
I never thought I would hear a United Sates Senator say something as asinine as this- we should set timelines EVEN IF THEY MIGHT PROVIDE A STRATEGIC ADVANTAGE TO OUR ENEMY
? For shame, Sen. Lugar.
I understand that people, not the American people, or the Iraqi people, but just people
want peace. I also understand that politicians want to be re-elected. It is what they live for. So here is my compromise: when the politicians want to ask stupid questions and make ridiculous remarks, Madam Secretary, let them. Help them, even- provide them with the facts and the truth, and even the opinions of a Nobel Peace Prize winner- namely Jose Ramos-Horta
:...I oppose wars as a matter of personal conviction. But because of my own experience, I also say that sometimes the use of force is necessary to put an end to tyranny and genocide. Can anyone condemn the U.S. for having intervened during World War II, to save the Jews from total annihilation? Can we condemn the NATO countries for intervening against Milosevic in 1998? For saving the Kosovars from annihilation? And moving to Afghanistan, it is often far too simplistic for blaming the U.S. But people forget that the U.S. gave an ultimatum to the Taliban regime to turn over Osama bin Laden. Pakistani diplomats traveled to Kabul twice, to persuade the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden. Here you have a state, Afghanistan, ruled by a regime that hosted a network and boasted about it, and defied the rest of the world about it. So, what should you do? The pacifists say "bring them to justice." Sure. Tell me how to bring them to justice without using force. From 2002
:...Iraq has waged two wars of aggression against its neighbours, first against Iran causing the death of more than 8 million people, then a war of aggression against Kuwait, causing the destruction the death of tens of thousands of people and hundreds of millions of dollars in destruction. Sadaam Hussein was the very first leader in the modern world to have launched an environmental war in blowing up the oilfields when he was defeated over Kuwait. The first environmental war in humanity's history. He was also the first leader to use chemical and biological weapons in the 1980s against Iranian soldiers. Again in the 1990s, biological chemical weapons were used against civilian Kurdish. 20,000 people perished under biological chemical weapons. In the 21st century, are we going to accept that there is a leader like that? Are we going to debate whether he has chemical weapons or not? Whether he has nuclear capability or not, the question we should focus on is should such an individual with such a record in this day and age be in office at all? From 2003
:Ramos-Horta knows from terrible experience that the trouble with tyrants is that you can't vote them out. Like the leaders of the Iraqi opposition today, the East Timorese 'begged a foreign power to free us from oppression, by force if necessary,' he wrote in the New York Times last week. 'Saddam Hussein has dragged his people into at least two wars. He has used chemical weapons on them. He has killed hundreds of thousands of people and tortured and oppressed countless others. So why, in all of these demonstrations, did I not see one single banner or hear one speech calling for the end of human rights abuses in Iraq, the removal of the dictator and freedom for the Iraqis and the Kurdish people?'From 2004
:In almost 30 years of political life, I have supported the use of force on several occasions and sometimes wonder whether I am a worthy recipient of the Nobel Peace prize. Certainly I am not in the same category as Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu or Nelson Mandela. But Mr. Mandela, too, recognized the need to resort to violence in the struggle against white oppression. The consequences of doing nothing in the face of evil were demonstrated when the world did not stop the Rwandan genocide that killed almost a million people in 1994. Where were the peace protesters then? They were just as silent as they are today in the face of the barbaric behavior of religious fanatics. Some may accuse me of being more of a warmonger than a Nobel laureate, but I stand ready to face my critics. It is always easier to say no to war, even at the price of appeasement. But being politically correct means leaving the innocent to suffer the world over, from Phnom Penh to Baghdad. And that is what those who would cut and run from Iraq risk doing. (BEGIN UPDATE)From 2005
-...those who hate the US seem to believe that every wrong committed by an American serviceman must not only be loudly condemned but portrayed as a deliberate act by the US Government, while the systematic and daily barbarities perpetrated predominantly by Sunni Muslims upon their fellow Muslims pass without comment. Such hypocrisy and unwarranted attacks increase the pressure on the US to cut and run from Iraq... For all the present violence, in a few years Iraq could easily evolve into a peaceful and democratic country. Whether that transpires ultimately rests in the hands of the millions of Iraqis. But they cannot succeed if they are abandoned. And the brave, young American soldiers whom we today see cruising the treacherous streets of Iraq, sometimes battling the terrorists, sometimes conversing with ordinary Iraqis, will be remembered as the heroes who made this possible.
Ramos-Horta has is exactly right. It is up to the Iraqi's, but they need a little help from their friends. And right now the best friend they ahve is the American soldier (meaning all our forces). And those soldiers and their Iraqi friends and their mission need our support, for America's young men and women in Iraq represent all of us. Many too be sure are from the lower or middle class. Few are members of the "American Aristocracy"- it has been a long time since a Kennedy went to war, and is likely to be longer yet. Some went to "State" universities and some went to West Point or the other service academies- elite educational institutions of the highest caliber. They are America- they are us. But they are something more than us- they are us distilled. Ramos-Horta closes with the following:For all the present violence, in a few years Iraq could easily evolve into a peaceful and democratic country. Whether that transpires ultimately rests in the hands of the millions of Iraqis. But they cannot succeed if they are abandoned. And the brave, young American soldiers whom we today see cruising the treacherous streets of Iraq, sometimes battling the terrorists, sometimes conversing with ordinary Iraqis, will be remembered as the heroes who made this possible. (END UPDATE)
And so we will continue to clear, hold and build. Because just like our Nobel Prize winning friend, we too understand that there are worse things than war. Iraqis want to be free, and they want peace. Our troops want to come home, and we want them to come home, alive and well. But the people of Iraq and indeed the world, depend on their mission being accomplished. The people of Iraq also want justice- perhaps justice more than anything else- and here I'll repeat Ramos-Horta's challenge to the anti-war left: tell me how to bring those who are need of being brought to justice to that justice without using force. We'd all love to see it happen.
(End of post.)