I Know a Marine, and He Knows the Stakes

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Dec 09, 2006 12:09 PM

This is my take on the ISG report. I got ticked this week when a bunch of preening politicians and pundits tried to project honor and bravery on the plan for losing-- losing slowly, "responsibly," diplomatically, but losing-- in Iraq.

There's nothing to smile about. There's nothing "passionate" and "bold" about running away from a job before it is finished, and in doing so leading the men and women of the armed services, who did not volunteer to lose, into failure. If you're gonna back that plan, fine, but don't pretend it's tough and brave. Doing so does a disservice to those who have actually been tough and brave in fighting the enemy without backing down.

My column this week is a nod to a couple of my friends who also happen to be those tough, brave men, and Tim Russert's got nothing on them.

Only in a Washington TV studio, perfumed with hairspray and haughtiness, could running away before the job is done be considered tough and resolved.

I know a Marine. He is packing his stuff this week. On Saturday, he will bend down, kiss his wife good-bye, and deploy again for Iraq. He will not leave with a mind to allowing the collapse of Iraq’s government, a humanitarian catastrophe, a propaganda victory for al Qaeda, the diminishing of America’s global standing, or negotiations with the enemy, just because it means we can get out of Iraq quickly.

He’ll go with a mind to win, and he will not find boldness, passion, toughness, glee, or honor in anything less. That is a practice for Washingtonians, not Marines.

Update: I also know a soldier, now. Got this today from a soldier serving his second voluntary tour in Iraq:

For the public, the consequences of cut-and-running are more disastrous than a weakened foreign image or a generation of disgruntled veterans. Because the Iraqi Army and Police are not yet ready to “stand up,” we cannot “step down.” Although many feel that host-nation forces would be obliged to take the place of American troops upon our mass exodus, their assumption is merely that – and their vision is more optimistic than even the most war-supporting neo-con. We have seen the Iraqis fail to secure their towns in Baghdad, ar Ramadi, al Fallujah, and sections of the al Anbar Province following the Coalition Forces’ mobilization to other hostile areas of Iraq. The sober realization that the Iraqis will not fight for their nation on a hasty timeline is not a reason to give up on them. Withdrawing combat troops from Iraq would send the already chaotic country into a vicious downward spiral.

Read the whole thing.