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Answering Carl Levin’s points
Posted by: McQ on Monday, June 25, 2007

An Iraqi war veteran takes on three of Sen. Carl Levin's points in a June 21 op-ed in the Washington Post entitled "Lincoln's example for Iraq". Pete Hegseth's (of Vets for Freedom) answer is carried on page A19.

Said Levin:
A deadline for withdrawal is an incentive for Iraqi political compromise.
Hegseth considers such a statement as tantamount to saying, "You better fix the situation before we leave and your country descends into chaos." As he points out, that's not an incentive, it's a threat. And it goes directly against his experience:
My experience in Iraq bore this out. Only after my unit established a meaningful relationship with the president of the Samarra city council — built on tangible security improvements and a commitment to cooperation — did political progress occur. Our relationship fostered unforeseen political opportunities and encouraged leaders, even ones from rival tribes, to side with American and Iraqi forces against local insurgents and foreign fighters.
This is one of the goals of Operation Phantom Thunder, this time on a much wider and ambitious scale. The intent is provide "tangible security improvements and a commitment to cooperation" which will finally blossom into full reconciliation. However, that's not going to happen if our commitment to such a process is based on an arbitrary timeline which ignores the reality of the situation and tells our enemies what the limit of their patience must be.

Obviously I'm not arguing for an open-ended process which sees little or no progress. But I am arguing that arbitrary timelines work to our disadvantage when attempting this sort of a policy. Unless we commit to seeing the process through, those who we're fighting for today, the Iraqi population, will make the choice which they see as best for them, and that will be to support those who have said unequivocally they're not leaving. That would be al Qaeda and associated minions.

One other point for the naysayers. This is the situation we have today. As Bill Roggio said last night in an interview "we don't have a time machine" in which we can go back and do this differently. So yes, many mistakes were made and that should be acknowledged. But regardless, you don't throw the baby out with the bath water.

Point two from Levin to which Hegseth objects:
We can bring the war to a "responsible end" but still conduct counterterrorism operations.
Nice sounding sound bite, but it makes absolutely no real sense. Says Hegseth:
The problem with this argument is what a "responsible end" would mean. What is "responsible" about the large-scale bloodshed that would surely occur if we left the Iraqis behind with insufficient security forces? What is "responsible" about proving al-Qaeda's thesis that America can be defeated anywhere with enough suicide bombings?

The senator also seems to believe that America will have success fighting terrorists in Iraq with a minimal troop presence, despite the fact that 150,000 troops have their hands full right now doing precisely that.
More succinctly, what is a 'responsible end'? And, if as everyone understands the intent of the statement, how does one still conduct counterterrorism operations with vastly reduced troop levels? And, as Hegseth points out, how is providing al Qaeda a propaganda victory a 'responsible end'?

Third point by Levin:
We are "supporting the troops" by demanding an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.
This is probably the most irritating and disingenuous slogan the anti-war left continually offers.

Hesgeth nails the problems with that specious argument:
Levin says that "our troops should hear an unequivocal message from Congress that we support them." He explains his vote to fund and "support" the troops while simultaneously trying to legislate the war's end. But what kind of "support" and "unequivocal message" do the troops hear from leaders in Congress who call their commanders "incompetent" or declare the war "lost"?

Such statements provide nearly instant enemy propaganda to every mud hut with a satellite dish in Iraq and throughout the Arab world. These messages do not spell support, no matter how you spin them. And they could inspire insurgents, making the situation more dangerous for our soldiers and Marines.
Now, for those of you inclined to use that argument, there's a little ground truth.

What we have recently begun militarily in Iraq with the surge operations that kicked off on June 15th, are obviously critical. The most encouraging part is the general we have running the show is the general who can make it work. I see it as tantamount to Lincoln finding and elevating Grant.

As Hesgeth says:
We face an important choice in the coming months: provide Gen. David Petraeus the time and troops he needs to execute his counterinsurgency campaign, or declare defeat and withdraw from Iraq. It seems that Democrats in Congress have already made their decision.
Of course those of us who support a positive outcome for both the US and Iraq want to see Petraeus given the time and troops necessary to execute the campaign. But as Hesgeth points out, declaring it "lost" and taking cowardly pot-shots at our military leaders (and yes, I mean cowardly because Harry Reid knows they can't defend themselves) isn't helping the situation, giving the operation a chance or 'supporting the troops'. And it certainly isn't working toward a positive end to the war for the US and Iraq.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Vets for Freedom is a front organization run by a GOP PR firm dedicated to defeating candidates who want to end the war in Iraq.

1st Lt Pete Hegseth’s real day job is as a conservative think tanker at the very conservative Manhattan Institute

Every view should be heard, but you should have revealed his real day job and his professional political ties should have been made known to your listeners. Pete is only a very part-time soldier who fools around a little bit in the Army NG. I honor his service. I even honor his opinion, but this organization Lt. Hegseth fronts is really kind of a GOP Swift Boating in reverse.

Please check the credentials of people who present that "just folks" facade while fronting causes.
Written By: rick kennerly
Well first, we have readers, not listeners.

Secondly, his link to Vets for Freedom was pointed out (with a link) in the first sentence of the post. So he was never presented as "just folks".

Lastly, I noticed you never once addressed his points. Not one.
Written By: McQ
We are supporting the troops by demanding an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.
Possibly the "our troops" Levin refers to aren’t the Americans and their allies? Or at least it can make more sense if you take it that way. I think it would be funny for someone to interview him as if he were "D, Al-Qaeda" and see how long it took before he noticed.
Written By: Larry Knerr
URL: http://

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