09 December 2007

Right-Wing Punditsphere Misses the Point on the Batiste/Hegseth WaPo Op-Ed

There was an excellent 12/8 WaPo Op-Ed from General (ret.) Batiste and Vets for Freedom's Pete Hegseth. In it they discuss that we need to move-on from the partisan bickering surrounding our conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and employ strategies that work, which in Iraq that has proven to be the General Petraeus counter-insurgency strategy. From the editorial:

Our military men and women deserve better than partisan politics; they deserve honest assessments of our nation's performance in fighting the Long War.

The Long War is obviously referring to the war against Islamic extremism. This war includes military operations, diplomatic operations, as well as humanitarian operations to convince regions plagued by terrorism that it is an unviable tenet and to squash those who practice terrorism. Certainly, much work remains to be done, and it requires commitment and sacrifice from our own nation. I found this quote from the editorial to be pretty inspiring as well:

Our perspectives were different, yet not as stark as the "outspoken general" and "stay-the-course supporter" labels we received. Such labels are oversimplified and inaccurate, and we are united behind a greater purpose. It's time to discuss the way forward rather than prosecute the past. Congress must do the same, for our nation and the troops.

This debunks the paradigm that has gripped politics recently across the blogosphere and MSM. People view Iraq as a "victory" being good for the right, while being bad for the left. This concept is ridiculous as a war should not be used as a political talking point, and I will always criticize anyone who promotes this view on both sides of the punditsphere. Instead of blind rhetoric, we need to critically look at events that have taken place and come up with a strategy which is good for the countries we've invaded as well as our own national interests. That's why I support both Vets for Freedom and VoteVets, since both take a critical look at the situation and try to come up with a solution, which is essential in a democracy. I also believe that people with military experience in Iraq and Afghanistan are in the unique position of understanding complexities to support politicians in Washington that have the best strategies and policies towards an effective war against extremism.

Instead of this editorial being a wake-up call for both right and left pundits alike, many on the right have chosen the security improvements on the ground in Iraq as a way to say "I told you so, Bush was right". The Weekly Standard chimes in with "Another Surge Convert" (and thanks for H/T from Badgers Forward):

There are two stories here: 1) A formerly anti-war general flips on supporting the war, and now believes Petraeus has the right strategy; and 2) Batiste has left VoteVets.org, and the antiwar movement, and joined up with the pro-troop, pro-surge, pro-victory Vets for Freedom. The antiwar movement has lost one of its most powerful voices today, and it will be interesting to see whether they turn on one of their own, or come around to the view, supported by a preponderance of evidence, that the surge is working.

The "antiwar" label is way too simplistic and seeks to marginalize vets who are seeking for a better strategy than the one Bush and Rumsfield envisioned. I, myself, didn't agree with the reasons we came to Iraq or Rumsfield's vision of fighting wars by asking nothing from the American people, outsourcing everything to private contractors, and downsizing our military which is already at the breaking point. Of course, I would hardly call myself "antiwar". But according to a comment on this Hot Air post, it kinda sorta implies that I'm supporting terrorism if I don't agree with the administration.

Although, as Allahpundit points out, this was in the works for a while, I think that Gen Batiste's defection from VoteVets to Vets for Freedom is a VERY big deal. Just as important as the military surge in Iraq working is a surge here at home in support for our war efforts, if we ever want to see a lasting victory. The pendulum has begun to swing back in favor of support for our troops, contempt for our enemies, and victory against Islamic extremism. I pray the progress continues.

Likewise, I pray the progress continues, hope terrorism is defeated worldwide, and as a lowly staff officer in Iraq, I guess that counts as "supporting the troops". But there is much to be done in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban still lurk, Iraq has a monstrous refugee crisis, and infrastructure in both countries is shoddy at best. So I suggest we put aside the right vs. left arguments and understand that we are a nation at war. We need well thought-out foreign policy to deal with the worldwide threat of terrorism. I think that's what the editorial was trying to get at, not "Vote Republican in '08".

General Petraeus sez "It's not time for the victory dance"


Bag Blog said...

When the BSA got ousted from a voter area for trying to support the troops, it was a perfect example that many people think this war is a political issue. Yet, I think you are right - most people are tired of this partisan way of thinking and are ready for congress to work together for real solutions. Unfortunately, I don't think the political dogs are ready to let go of their bone. Political groups like Move On put lots of pressure on the Dems to not break rank. Now with Oprah throwing her money around, things could get out of whack pretty quick.

LT Nixon said...

Bag Blog,

Thanks for bringing up that point. I myself was pretty pissed about the moveon betrayus fiasco. I think we need grassroots effort to focus on a strategy that works and realize mistakes of the past and our current situation. The first step is to put aside the partisan rhetoric for something as serious as war.

Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Historically, bi-partisan support for American wars only lasts until things begin to go wrong, unless the "Loyal Opposition" rolls over, forsaking political advantage for the sake of national unity. The counterinsurgent democracy must tolerate internal oppositional elements, the most radical of which plainly share many common objectives with the insurgents, especially withdrawal and regime change

Some ideologies are more sympathetic than others to your profession and your mission.

LT Nixon said...

Cannoneer #4,

I agree with your blog post, and I'm no fan of marxism myself. I was just slamming the Bush Uber Alles crowd because they were exploiting some progress in Iraq to declare Republican victory. Iraq has a ways to go.