Wednesday, January 24, 2007
If you saw the Democratic rebuttal to the SOTU last night, you heard Jim Webb say this:
As I look at Iraq, I recall the words of former general and soon-to-be President Dwight Eisenhower during the dark days of the Korean War, which had fallen into a bloody stalemate. "When comes the end?" asked the General who had commanded our forces in Europe during World War Two. And as soon as he became President, he brought the Korean War to an end.
[Eisenhower] took the right kind of action ... for the health of our relations around the world. Tonight we are calling on this President to take similar action.... If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way.
Read this very interesting comment to my short SOTU post last night. Jim Webb's evocation of Eisenhower's resolution of the Korean War might plausibly be read as a demand that the United States significantly increase its threats against the various client states supporting the insurgency in Iraq.
Webb, being something of a student of military history, probably knew that Eisenhower threatened the use of atomic weapons to force a settlement of the Korean conflict. He also probably knew that virtually none of his Democratic colleagues or the reporters and editors covering the speech would know that, so he is at very little risk that anyone will ask him precisely what he meant when he promised to show Bush "the way."
"...the United States significantly increase its threats against the various client states supporting the insurgency in Iraq..."
I don't have a problem with an increase in threats. I have a problem with any strategy that significantly reduces America's ability to maneuver globally for an extended period of time. As Sun Tzu said, "Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain."
Memo to extreme leftists: Don't bother telling me again how much you hate Sun Tzu. I could care less about your opinion on the matter (unless you are a veteran of a war in either Asia or the Middle East).
might plausibly be read as a demand that the United States significantly increase its threats against the various client states supporting the insurgency in Iraq.
Only if you ignore the content and tenor of the entire speech. Which you have to do in order to avoid engaging his analysis honestly:
"With respect to foreign policy, this country has patiently endured a mismanaged war for nearly four years. Many, including myself, warned even before the war began that it was unnecessary, that it would take our energy and attention away from the larger war against terrorism, and that invading and occupying Iraq would leave us strategically vulnerable in the most violent and turbulent corner of the world.....
The President took us into this war recklessly. He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs. We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable - and predicted - disarray that has followed.
The war's costs to our nation have been staggering.....
We need a new direction. Not one step back from the war against international terrorism. Not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos. But an immediate shift toward strong regionally-based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq's cities, and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq.
WaPo has the text online if you want to consider, you know, reading it. But it's probably easier to talk about what he did not say (threaten nukes) than to talk about what he did say (the Decider screwed the pooch).
The Eisenhower speech Webb cited, moreover, makes no reference to the policy of threatening nukes. Indeed, this is the famous "I shall go to Korea" speech. Scholars don't refer to it as the "I shall nuke China or Russia speech," because Ike didn't say that.
As TH said, I think few in the press know this history or want to make this point. Webb is their man du jour, so to speak. A few years ago it was McCain. Who knows who it will be next year?
I think it would be a mistake to threaten nukular weapons on the Syrians, Iranians, et.al. as a matter of policy; privately, covertly or whatever.
In 1953, there was just us and the Soviets with nukes. The Cuban missile crisis, in a roundabout way, was a response to those kinds of threats against clients and policies of the USSR. Now, there are many more nations, and more soon to come, as nukular powers.
We have to get away from using the threat of maximum military force (i.e., nukes) whenever we come to a difficult problem that begs for politcal/military coercion with a mis-behaving nation, such as North Korea or the Islamic Republic of Iran.
This just encourages the "thinkability" of using nukes, and makes them attractive to other nations to do the same, and acquire them.
If we are going to threaten, we should threaten with massive conventional airpower (which only the US has, quite frankly), to reduce their industrial capacity to zero, while trying to leave their civilians/cities alone.
And we should not threaten unless "the resources of the State" are equal to the test.
Bro robin: "I wonder if anyone has brought this point up to Webb yet."
I can't speak for Webb. But many people in his generation don't tremble in fear over nuclear weapons. They lived with the threat of nuclear war every day during childhood.
At the height of the Cuban missile crisis, almost every American simply went about his or her daily business. (A few more teenage girls than usual had sex because they didn't want to die a virgin.)
In the same paragraph, Webb says:
"Not a precipitous withdrawal" and "a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq."
Can someone smarter than me explain how these two statements are different??
"...explain how these two statements are different?"
My interpretation: Don't sneak off in the middle of the night. Do a little cleanup work and give the landlord 60 days notice before you vacate the premises.
Meta-4: "masquerading as a war hero"
Sorry, Meta-4. Unlike Kerry, Webb is the real thing. Deal with it.
Webb received the Navy Cross for actions on July 10, 1969. The citation reads:
“The Navy Cross is presented to James H. Webb, Jr., First Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while serving as a Platoon Commander with Company D, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), Fleet Marine Force, in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On 10 July 1969, while participating in a company-sized search and destroy operation deep in hostile territory, First Lieutenant Webb's platoon discovered a well-camouflaged bunker complex which appeared to be unoccupied. Deploying his men into defensive positions, First Lieutenant Webb was advancing to the first bunker when three enemy soldiers armed with hand grenades jumped out. Reacting instantly, he grabbed the closest man and, brandishing his .45 caliber pistol at the others, apprehended all three of the soldiers. Accompanied by one of his men, he then approached the second bunker and called for the enemy to surrender. When the hostile soldiers failed to answer him and threw a grenade which detonated dangerously close to him, First Lieutenant Webb detonated a claymore mine in the bunker aperture, accounting for two enemy casualties and disclosing the entrance to a tunnel. Despite the smoke and debris from the explosion and the possibility of enemy soldiers hiding in the tunnel, he then conducted a thorough search which yielded several items of equipment and numerous documents containing valuable intelligence data. Continuing the assault, he approached a third bunker and was preparing to fire into it when the enemy threw another grenade. Observing the grenade land dangerously close to his companion, First Lieutenant Webb simultaneously fired his weapon at the enemy, pushed the Marine away from the grenade, and shielded him from the explosion with his own body. Although sustaining painful fragmentation wounds from the explosion, he managed to throw a grenade into the aperture and completely destroy the remaining bunker. By his courage, aggressive leadership, and selfless devotion to duty, First Lieutenant Webb upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service."
I was actually filled with dismay when Webb invoked the Korean example to the current situation.
Putting aside for a moment the nuclear status of North Korea and the resulting tensions related to that, havent we had troops stationed in Korea since the hot war ended? Is Webb suggesting that part of the solution here is the permanent presence of US ground troops as a deterrent to regional aggression? If not, what exactly is he proposing.
Now, back to North Korea. How many time have we hear from the left that North Korea is the real threat and that our war in Iraq was a mistake in part because it diverted us from dealing with NK and its nukes? And Webb is holding the state of things in Korea as a model for how the Iraq situation might be resolved? Mind boggling.
I do hope someone can come up with a plan that will help us meet our objectives in the Middle East and maybe it will turn out that Webb may be part of a solution someday, but I don't think Webb actually knows what it was he was suggesting last night.
For years, Webb would have nothing to do with John Kerry because of many of the things that Kerry did after his "tour of duty" in Viet Nam (eg. Winter Soldier). Webb would not shake his hand or even deign to notice him on many occasions. Jim Webb's son is presently serving with the Marines in Iraq, and I believe he is in Ramadi; he is not some REMF. And from what I have read, he has a different attitude about Iraq than his father (at this point in time).
And this attitude toward Kerry was a conscious point of honor with Mr. Webb, too.
In 2006, Webb did all kinds of grips and grins with John Kerry, during Webb's run for the Senate.
Make of that what you will. Although Sun Tzu didn't say, it bear repeating: politics makes strange bedfellows.
Sun Tzu had a major influence on Mao. In "On Guerrilla Warfare," Mao wrote in 1937: "When guerrillas engage a stronger enemy, they withdraw when he advances; harass him when he stops; strike him when he is weary; pursue him when he withdraws."
Muslim fighters are using that strategy around the world.
DEC: Maybe he WAS a war hero.......but that doesn't excuse him from criticism for advocating cut and run now. He also suffers from BDS to the point he said he wanted to slug W. That is NOT the behavior of an honorable man, war hero or not....
A couple of things. I've never met Webb, but he was a serious Marine and still is. The guy is certainly a Patriot, and should be listened to. I suspect the Korea example is, as TH alluded, way beyond the capacity of the liberal press and most liberals from really understanding. Ike did not immediately end the war, threatened to expand it dramatically and found a solution which ultimately has worked out brilliantly for the US -- not just viz. South Korea, but for the entire Far East (think Japan, the Dragons, the Tigers, and China post-Deng). Ike's willingness and threat to expand gave us the credibility to defend the region from Maoist expansion. The US willingness to go again in Vietnam reaffirmed our credibility and eventually helped open China.
What Webb specifically has in mind is less clear. Would he threaten Iran with a direct expansion? Would he begin bombing Syria? What is the message which he would advocate sending which would not be a bluff?
Clearly, the US is sending a message by positioning 2 carrier battle groups in the Gulf. That signals our willingness to bomob the piss out of somebody.
This is a long game, for this president and the next. And the next.
The war's measurable costs -- dollars and lives -- have been incredibly low by virtually any historical measure. Total defense spending including the war remains a far smaller share of national income than even during the 1980s, when we were not really fighting hot wars. It is still under 4% of GDP, compared to 7%+ in the Reagan years. We can pay this much forever without breaking a sweat (I'm not saying that the rest of the government's fiscal situation is acceptable, but that is analytically separate from the war). As for casualties, they are low even compared to other American "small" wars.
Yes TH that is precisely right. Solving the Middle East puzzle via the use of force as necessary is very achievable and not economically perilous, as the antis would try to argue. It requires will, patience and an understanding of the complexities of the region. But as compared to defeating European tyranny, or Soviet tyranny, Middle Eastern tyranny will be inexpensively defeated in terms of lives lost and money. Then the region can get on with its modernization and entry into the community of free nations. We just can't let Iran continue as it is...or the costs will spiral in both lives and treasure...
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