Thursday, November 17, 2005

Murtha speaks out on Iraq: Is it time to withdraw?

A big story from CNN (even if most people don't even know who Murtha is):

Warning that other global threats "cannot be ignored," Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, a leading adviser on defense issues, called Thursday for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

"U.S. and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq," the senior lawmaker said. "It's time for a change in direction."

Prominent Republicans like Speaker Dennis Hastert and Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Duncan Hunter came out swinging. Hastert: "They would prefer that the United States surrender to the terrorists who would harm innocent Americans." Which, of course, misses the point and spins Murtha's intent beyond recognition, but that's the Congressional Republican leadership for you.

Murtha: "I resent the fact that on Veterans Day, they criticized Democrats for criticizing them. This is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public knows it, and lashing out at critics doesn't help a bit. You've got to change the policy. That's what's going to help the American people. You need to change direction."

I may not agree entirely with Murtha -- I think that the situation in Iraq needs to stabilized to the point where sovereign self-government is feasible in the long-term -- but at least he had the courage to speak out.

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As some of you may know, Vice President Cheney has recently rushed not only to the defence of torture but to the defence of the mess for which he himself is particularly responsible as one of its chief architects. Indeed, he has called the Democrats' suggestion of pre-war intelligence manipulation "one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city". (How you do spell hyperbole? Methinks he doth protest too much.)

Well here's Murtha, "a decorated Korean War and Vietnam combat veteran" on Cheney et al. (from the AP): "I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

As Roger Waters put it in his highly underrated album Amused to Death, a brilliant anti-war protest, people like Cheney possess "the bravery of being out of range".

There is still a need for debate and discussion on what to do in Iraq. But let's listen to people who have been there, to the McCains, the Hagels, the Murthas, not to those who have no clue, the Cheneys, the Rumsfelds, and, yes, the Bushes.

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