Dear President Bush:
As we sit today at a crossroads in our War on Terror, I felt it was my civic duty to provide to you some of my own perspective on our path forward. I am honored to have this opportunity and I hope that what I have to say will have some impact on your decisions in the coming weeks.
In January 2003, I was tasked with commanding Task Force 2-7 Infantry, one of the key units in the initial phase of the Iraq component of the War on Terror. At that time, public sentiment for military action was very high and I can recall clearly enormously positive news reports on our soldiers and their brave and honorable sacrifice.
As a nation, we sensed a feeling of unification and power. As one of the greatest nations on the face of the earth, our military prowess was clear and present. Now, almost 4 years later, while the American public respects and generally supports our troops, that sense of pride and nationalism has waned. We are mired in a discussion about “go big, go long….go home” – pathetically simplistic terms for a complex situation. The world watches as we make our next moves, impacting not only our fellow Iraqis but the future action of other rogue leaders for decades to come. Your decisions are of maximum import and the tidal effect will be felt for years.
I want to bring us back to our own democracy, an experiment – at best. No one holds the cards for the future, yet we know today that millions sit waiting at America’s doorstep. But our democracy evolved in a way that laid the foundation for over two centuries of human freedom and dignity. The founders of our democracy could see the Big Picture. In Iraq, we have lost sight.
Having said that, all is not lost. But we must look to how democracies are formed to find the answer. We must remember that the first President of the United States was not George Washington – it was General George Washington. His power at that time was fundamental to creating stability and structure at the close of one of America’s bloodiest wars. The first step in any democracy, or to any form of government, is structure. That structure can only come from the power of the Commander in Chief. Even with our segregation of military and legislative powers, the President of the United States is the Commander in Chief.
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