Historical Perspective on Iraq and Afghanistan
Date Published: 27 January 2007
Like most of the media, my local paper tends to have a pretty strong bias against the conflict in Iraq (and, generally, any conflict) in its own editorials and those it chooses to print from national syndication, along with most Letters to the Editor. However, last week there was a letter that made me want to just stand up and cheer "Yes! Somebody actually gets it!" and write in to the paper myself to say "Me Too! +1! What He Said!" in the hopes that they might realize that this is somebody who actually knows what they're talking about, unlike most of the things that are published.
Since I'm not sure how permanent the links are at the Record Courier, or whether they might some day require logins or something, I'm archiving the entire letter below. Some of the references made won't make sense out of context, but most the letter speaks for itself, and more than that, speaks for me.
January 19, 2007
It is my opinion that the editorials in the Record-Courier editorial pages of late have been biased and one-sided and need to be balanced. The Jan. 14 Oliphant cartoon suggested that President Bush has no plan for Iraq and that he is sending new troops into a meat grinder. I have no problem with anyone expressing the opinion that they do not agree with the president's plan, but to say he has no plan is simply ignorant.
For those of you who do not think we have a new plan, follow closely. First, the new plan changes the rules of engagement and finally turns our military loose to do what needs to be done, which is to kill the enemy and destroy their ability to fight. Which is how wars are won. That's right, kill the enemy even if they are hiding in mosques. Second, it "puts boots on the ground," which many of you have been calling for — until it actually has to be done — and it puts them right where they are needed most. Third, it forces the Iraqi government to stop playing politics and focus on stopping the violence, with the clear understanding that if they do not come through, their political power will most likely end. Finally, it includes a new diplomatic and military effort to stop the support of terrorists in Iraq by Iran and Syria.
It is a measured, well-thought-out plan. A plan that the people who need to carry it out agree with — like the new generals and commanders who are now in charge in Iraq and pitched the plan to the President. Guess what? Their opinions are the only ones that count. Not some columnist's or politician's opinion.
Get some historical perspective. In the history of warfare, no country has ever achieved so much success with so few casualties. The United States has lost 3,017 dead in Iraq and another 356 in Afghanistan. In less than two years we freed 26,074,906 people in Iraq and 29,928,987 people in Afghanistan. That is 56 million people freed from torture and tyranny with less than 3,400 casualties on our side. That is unbelievable, yet it is never mentioned by the press or put into the proper perspective. We are just constantly beaten over the head with the "terrible cost of this war."
We can choose to fight today or fight a larger war in the future, but we will have to fight because they are willing to bring the fight to us. Leaving is just not an option — yet all of your columnists continue selling this delusion.
Which brings me to David Broder, who claims that President Bush has "written off any prospect of regaining broad support at home … in the slender hope of finding a key to military success and political agreement in Bahgdad." Guess what, David Broder? The majority of people elected President Bush in 2004 and his job is to do what he thinks is right — not what we think is right. It's called representative democracy. It saves us from ourselves and people like you who have no idea what the facts are but think they have all the answers.I, and many other Americans, want President Bush to find any key to military success he can, slender or not. Regardless of what we think.
This leads me to the insane ramblings of Caroline Arnold. What is this woman doing in your newspaper? After reading her first paragraph on Sunday the only one who is "mad" is she. It is not "mad" to be driven to win when you are in the right. Is it mad to quit when you can help so many people at so little cost to a country as wealthy in so many ways as ours? I ask how much has each of us sacrificed personally to fight this war? We don't know what it means to sacrifice for our country.
Finally, there is columnist Ann McFeatters, she of the "no-win war" beliefs. We can't lose this war if we just choose to win it, so how can it be a "no-win" war? How many times does Bush have to explain that establishing a strong democratic Iraqi government, that can protect its people and its borders, is the definition of "winning"?
Today the media and politicians criticize when anything goes wrong in any war as if nothing should ever go wrong in war. Read some history, please. Hardly anything ever goes right in war — that's a fact.
Your columnists, and those who think like them, are wrong about this war, just as they were wrong about Vietnam. Our lack of resolve in Vietnam, to do what was necessary to win, led directly to the needless murder of millions of people in Southeast Asia after we left. Your "peace movement" saved thousands and killed millions. Hopefully, our country will not repeat the mistakes of the past and give up on what is right, simply because we do not have the resolve to live up to our responsibilities. Today we need the courage to kill the few to save the lives of millions — perhaps millions in one of our own major cities.
The Record-Courier could do us all a favor by simply giving us the facts and letting us form our own opinions in the future. Giving us an overdose of opinions of those who have so little to say and so little knowledge of history is a waste of newsprint and a disservice to your readers.
Thomas R. Zawistowski
Steve is an experienced software architect and trainer, focusing on code quality and Domain-Driven Design with .NET.