Sunday, November 20, 2005

The War Goes On Forever -- A Response to The Weekly Standard

Dear Mr. Kristol:

Like Representative Murtha, I am a Democrat and a supporter of the War. Unlike Mr. Murtha, I have no military background. I am just another lawyer.

Although I am a supporter of the War, I have to take great issue with the following sentence in your recent posting:

"Victory is in fact possible, though it will require a longer war than anyone would like, but not so long a war as to be intolerable."

It seems to me that the United States cannot leave Iraq until (i) Iraq is a functioning "free" state, however loosely that gets defined and (ii) Iraq can stand on its own militarily, which means, at least, that Iraq can stand on its own against Iran.

Those conditions were forseeable when the overthrow of Saddam was just a gleam in the eye of your magazine. It was also reasonably foreseeable, even then, that meeting those conditions would take forever. How long is forever? Forever is longer than the lifetime of anyone currently talking about the war in Iraq.

Is forever intolerable? Probably not to you and me, but it is most definitely intolerable to most of the citizens of the United States.

It is the obligation of people who support the war, and take the war seriously, to clearly explain -- every single day -- what is meant by the aims of the war, and why, given the enormous amount of work that needs to be done, the war effort has had a measure of success.

The war will take forever, and if we are not willing to stay forever, then there is a strong argument to be made that we might as well leave this afternoon. This is a situation where half measures will avail us less than nothing, and the longer we apply half-measures, the larger the hole we dig for ourselves.

P.S. -- Contrary to the behavior of the Republicans on the floor of the House today, and contrary to some of the implications of your article, do you really believe that someone like John Murtha would call for troop withdrawals without the blessing of at least some critical mass of the Generals?