The search also led me to a group called Vets For Freedom, an organization of about 5000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who think that we should be talking about victory - not withdrawal - in the halls of Congress, and whose experience overseas (along with men like, oh, Petraeus) I think lends pretty good credence to their perspective that defeating the insurgency is possible. Perhaps Harry Reid should avail himself of the wealth of such experience that exists, or go to Iraq and sniff around for himself (that is, if he can find any soldiers or Marines willing to place their bodies between him and the jihadists. I guessing any such list, if it even existed, would be pretty small). Anyway, an article beside Mr. Gallo's featuring the group's leader, 1stLt Pete Hegseth, makes several good points particularly applicable to the all-night grandstanding we saw on the Hill yesterday. Among my favorites:
- On Guantanamo - "We bend over backwards to conform ourselves to the detainees’ way of life,” . . . “I think their food is better than what my guys got.”
- On "redeploying" and leaving only forces behind for "counterterrorism" - in a nutshell, it's “an abandonment of the Petraeus doctrine and a return to the Rumsfeld doctrine.” And “That’s what we did for three years . . . We sat on big bases. We sent out strike units to go hit what we thought were pockets of al Qaeda and just hoped things would get better. So now we’re supposed to push out further into the desert and do counterterrorism? How are we going to know who we’re striking?”
- On how fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq has caused us to take our eye off al Qaeda elsewhere - "At this point, al Qaeda has declared that Iraq is the central front in the War on Terror . . . and if we leave, they’re going to spin that p.r. ‘til the cows come home." On that same note, today we learn that coalition forces captured the most senior Iraqi in the AQI chain of command who, apparently, is also the "conduit" between AQI and al Qaeda at large. I submit that a) this is fairly good proof, on top of the already huge existing body of evidence, that AQI is part of the larger al Qaeda network Democrats claim to want to destroy, b) as such, we should fight and kill AQI members where they are right now, in Iraq, and c) that this capture was brought to you by General Petraeus' current strategy of putting troops on the streets, thereby grabbing AQI by the nose, kicking them in the ass, and shooting them in the head; and would be virtually impossible, or at least much harder, to achieve by pulling back to FOBs as we did in the past.
Both he and Gallo also touch on Congress' complete silence on what will happen if we simply leave (detailed here as well).
Well, all in all Google helped turned this into a much more interesting morning than I'd anticipated when I woke up. Thank you Google, now how's about you give China the same access the rest of the world enjoys. But I digress. As the argument on Capitol Hill gets louder and more venomous, the prospect of withdrawal more frighteningly real, and my own deployment gets closer, I find myself turning more and more to primary sources i.e. those who've actually been there. While there are any number of good columnists who, I think, present valid facts and sound thinking, it becomes clear that, apart from fighting AQI, we're also fighting over which conception of Iraq is the right one. Congress has one, while those deployed have one that seems quite different. So from now on, I will try to dig deeper and present more of those primary sources, adding their links where applicable and ultimately my own first-hand perspective (which, from the cockpit of a helicopter, will be admittedly limited) once I get in theater. In the debate between who's holding on to facts, and who to fantasy, I'm afraid the experience of those who have front row seats to the battle is being shamefully overlooked.