Lefty embed to Dems: Troops want to fight on; Update: House passes Iraq spending bill, sans timetable; Update: Senate passes bill

posted at 6:37 pm on May 24, 2007 by Allahpundit

It’s Spencer Ackerman, formerly a war supporter and contributor to TNR, now a war opponent and embed in Iraq for The American Prospect. Sectarian killings are on the rise again, the public has further soured on the mission, and according to Ackerman, “nothing in Iraq worth fighting for remains achievable, and nothing achievable in Iraq remains worth fighting for.” (Not even preventing ethnic cleansing?) So he agrees with the Dems that it’s time to stop the war. He just wants them to stop pretending that they’re doing what they’re doing to help the troops, because as it turns out, most of the troops don’t want that kind of “help.”

Haunted by Vietnam, Democrats are determined to express support for the troops. This is admirable. The truth of the matter, however, is this: many troops in Iraq, perhaps even most of them, want to stay and fight. That doesn’t mean that we should stay in Iraq any longer. It does mean, however, that if Democrats want to bridge the divide between themselves and the military—an effort further complicated by their opposition to the war—they’re going to have to recognize that arguing in the name of the troops isn’t going to work…

[F]or many troops in Baghdad, the surge had brought a significant boost in morale. When I rode along with the 57th on patrol, they were experiencing the strange comfort of “boring” days without any enemy attacks—so much so that one gunner even admitted to mixed feelings about the lack of combat. After a period of prolonged catastrophe, the sense that events had shifted in favor of the U.S. came as a great relief. “Having momentum on your side, that’s so important,” explained the company commander, Captain Robert McNellis. “And that’s what we feel right now.” For this company, the surge wasn’t merely an augmentation of troops. It was an augmentation of hope…

Democrats would do much better to speak honestly: to acknowledge that many fighting men and women want to stay in the battle and would be willing to do so for years longer. There’s nothing wrong with saying that, nor in emphasizing that this is part of what makes us so proud of our military. We wouldn’t want soldiers who were unwilling to fight to the bitter end. Elected officials, however, have to judge what they believe to be in the national interest, and that means calling an end to the occupation of Iraq. Soldiers like Wellman won’t agree, but if Democrats can at least signal that they acknowledge and respect his point of view, they’ll have a better chance at getting Wellman to respect their own. And meeting partway is a lot better than not meeting at all.

There’s more at the link, including an argument about why the troops’ assessment should be given due regard but only as one piece of the puzzle and only then after we’ve discounted for the “never say die” can-do attitude that would skew the view of any honorable professional soldier. The shining irony, of course, is that until now the left has invested veterans with absolute moral authority when it comes to opining on the war (but only if they’re against it): that’s the root of the chickenhawk slur, that’s what forces the media to take vets-by-proxy like Cindy Sheehan seriously, that’s why Murtha emerged as a leading anti-war spokesman — he served in the Corps, and was thus possessed of a battle-hardened second sight to which the Chimperor wasn’t privy — and that’s why the Kossacks were so bubbly about the crop of Iraq war vets who ran for Congress last year as Democrats. I take Ackerman’s piece to be a tacit warning to all of them that the chickens have come home to roost and it might be time once again to see the virtues in civilian supervision of the military.

Peter Pace said today that the Pentagon’s already looking into transitioning the mission from combat to advisory, so the whole thing may be moot before too long. Do read this open letter to the media by an Iowa Guardsman, too; it’s a good illustration of the type of opinion Ackerman seems to have been getting over there.

Exit question: Is Ackerman’s chief worry the distaste the troops might have for the Democrats’ pandering or the distaste the public might have for it?

Update: Nancy and company bit the bullet tonight, passing the new Iraq spending bill after having split it in two so that the Democrats could vote en masse for the domestic spending provisions and then the Republicans and Blue Dogs could pass the actual troop funding. The thinking:

“It will be demonstrated tomorrow, when they support the supplemental overwhelmingly, [that] it continues to be their war,” said Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.). “I don’t think anyone is awkward about having a vote like that.”

Nutroots groups are irate. The next spending battle may come in July or in September at the very latest, after Petraeus gives his progress report.

Update: The Senate passed it, 80-14, but CNN’s article pointedly doesn’t say how the presidential candidates voted. Stay tuned for the roll.


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The rest of the lefty scum in the media have known this since the start. They have chosen sides with our enemies and will not back down in their suppression of good news and morale in Iraq. The taste of crow is something they dread and fear.

roninacreage on May 24, 2007 at 6:55 PM

From the Letter to the Media:

“You are the enemy’s greatest weapon.”

Amen, brother.

Tony737 on May 24, 2007 at 6:55 PM

Elected officials, however, have to judge what they believe to be in the national interest, and that means calling an end to the occupation of Iraq.

Allah,

I would like to know why Ackerman thinks a withdrawal of troops will be in America’s interest, both short term and long term.

With troops there, we can at least appear to have some semblance of control over events. With a pull out, everything is left up to chance.

As a war opponent initially, I think the liberals haven’t learned the main lesson we should have learned from the Iraq invasion: “Better the Devil you know.”

bert169 on May 24, 2007 at 6:57 PM

There’s more at the link, including an argument about why the troops’ assessment should be given due regard but only as one piece of the puzzle and only then after we’ve discounted for the “never say die” can-do attitude that would skew the view of an honorable professional soldier. The shining irony, of course, is that until now the left has invested veterans with absolute moral authority when it comes to opining on the war (but only if they’re against it)….

Nothing that Ackerman said changes the modus operandi of the Left in that regard because “due regard” still equals “no regard for those that support the war”.

Exit question: Is Ackerman’s chief worry the distaste the troops might have for the Democrats’ pandering or the distaste the public might have for it?

The latter because the portion of the public that backs both the troops and the war is larger than the number of troops we have.

steveegg on May 24, 2007 at 6:58 PM

With troops there, we can at least appear to have some semblance of control over events. With a pull out, everything is left up to chance.

As a war opponent initially, I think the liberals haven’t learned the main lesson we should have learned from the Iraq invasion: “Better the Devil you know.”

bert169 on May 24, 2007 at 6:57 PM

That lack of control over events is precisely why the Left wants a pull-out. They’re hoping that Iraq suffers the same fate that South Vietnam did.

For many of the liberals, an entirely-different maxim applies, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” and their main enemy is not in the Middle East.

steveegg on May 24, 2007 at 7:02 PM

Exit question: I believe that Ackerman’s agenda is split.

Since he has become pro-withdrawal, he finds kinship with the libs in Washington who are trying to force us out. So he’s offering advice on how the libs might gain some traction by seeing things ‘through the eyes of the troops’, as it were.

On the plus side, he is telling it like it is from the vet’s perspective, honoring the troops’ willingness to fight on, even if he does somewhat discount it as just being the way soldiers are wired.

Freelancer on May 24, 2007 at 7:10 PM

Why would the military take a liking to a national political party that calls them “baby killers” and terrorists?

SouthernGent on May 24, 2007 at 7:14 PM

I find it unconsionable for the traitorous dems to keep saying they want to end the war. They can’t end the war. The only way to end the war is for us to kill every last rat bastard terrorist or for the terrorists to stop making war upon us.

All the stupid liberals can do is quit the war and wait for the terrorists to bring the ongoing war back to us. AGAIN!

csdeven on May 24, 2007 at 7:16 PM

But you know, of course, that the troops are too stupid to make their own decisions, right? Otherwise, why would they choose to join up in the first place? That why we have to protect them by bringing them home! /leftist

My mom told me today that one of my nephews–a fourteen-year-old–says that if the war is still going on when he becomes of age, he will enlist and expressed very adult reasoning for the decision. Young Julian has occasionally had discipline problems, but is very intelligent.

There is hope for the younger generation.

baldilocks on May 24, 2007 at 7:18 PM

For many of the liberals, an entirely-different maxim applies, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” and their main enemy is not in the Middle East.

Well, that does explain why the journalist from CNN (Ware, I think) said this whole debate about Iraq seems surreal knowing the consequences of a withdrawal.

bert169 on May 24, 2007 at 7:19 PM

AREthey haunted by Vietnam? If so, how so? I swear I can’t get a liberal to discuss Vietnam other than the “it was a bad war” mentality. Nothing about how the behavior of the antiwar crowd prolonged and ultimately ended the war and certainly nothing ever about what happened when we withdrew. I really don’t know a liberal who is haunted by Vietnam, but I know a lot of Vietnam veterans who are.

Glynn on May 24, 2007 at 7:27 PM

Here’s another good quote from the article:

For soldiers like Lieutenant Wellman, [withdrawing from Iraq] will be hard to accept. As he told me of war doubters back home, “I don’t want them to just support the troops. I want them to support the mission.” This matters, because pretending that in ending the war they’re doing the troops a favor hurts Democrats politically. They risk looking condescending, and, worse, oblivious—which has the broader effect of undermining public trust in the Democrats to handle national security. More basically, it does a disservice to those who serve. For soldiers who are optimistic, being told that the war can’t be won is bad enough. But to be told that politicians are doing them a favor by extricating them from a mission they believe in is downright insulting.

But the Dems don’t care about insulting their “inferiors.” After all, someone who takes that “duty, honor, country” nonsense cannot be anything but mentally handicapped. We must protect the retards troops! /leftist

baldilocks on May 24, 2007 at 7:34 PM

“After all, someone who takes that “duty, honor, country” nonsense seriously cannot be anything but mentally handicapped.”

(Heck. I have trouble with moonbat-ese.)

baldilocks on May 24, 2007 at 7:37 PM

Anyone monitoring Kos and the DU ? They might have to take away their knives at the democratic dinner tables for a while.

William Amos on May 24, 2007 at 8:08 PM

TThe mission is what the troops do. You cannot support the troops without supporting the mission. That is all there is to it.

Phil Byler on May 24, 2007 at 8:15 PM

What if the Dems demanded an immediate withdrawal and the troops refused? I would love to see the spin masters then. Well that and I would love to have several million shares of stock in a company that makes duct tape.

LakeRuins on May 24, 2007 at 8:25 PM

I hate to say it, but this guy seems pretty on. I spent two tours in Iraq and I am for only one thing… winning. But the question becomes, what is “winning”? It makes me sick to leave some of the good people in Iraq. I think I had it when, in the midsts of us sending 30,000 more Soldiers to fight for their security… the Iraqi parliment goes on a two month vacation.

Iran and Al Qaeda are using this to bleed us dry. Soon we will be at that point where even if we win, we lose.

If the Democrats could show me realistically how withdrawling from Iraq would be part of a “shift” of assets to allow us to “counterattack” and take the fight to the enemy elsewhere (Iran, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Somalia, Dearborn Michigan) then I’d consider supporting the idea. Instead they just whine about how “we lost” and things are hopeless…

BadBrad on May 24, 2007 at 9:20 PM

The next spending battle may come in July or in September at the very latest, after Petraeus gives his progress report.

It’s all a moot point. Pelosi may not even attend the meetings, and the drive-by’s will NOT report anything good from Iraq, no matter what Petraeus says. They just won’t…the democrat party will not allow it.

You can bet your house on it!!

SouthernGent on May 24, 2007 at 9:59 PM

ABC News says Clinton and Obama voted against it

William Amos on May 24, 2007 at 10:24 PM

Opps add Dodd to the no votes.

And this

“Though I loathe this decision to fund the war, I will not take out my feelings against the troops in the field,” said Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who voted against authorizing use of force in Iraq in October 2002. “Our soldiers should never be bargaining chips in this debate.”

Durbin was joined by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chair of the Armed Services Committee, who also voted against going to war nearly five years ago.

“I cannot vote to stop funding our troops who are in harm’s way,” Levin said. “It is not the proper way that we can bring this was to an end. It is not the proper way that we can put pressure on Iraqi leaders.”

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Story?id=3210851&page=3

William Amos on May 24, 2007 at 10:26 PM

Hmm DU got the full list they call them the “Freedom 14)

I think the republicans who voted no were because of pork in the bill

NAYs —14
Boxer (D-CA)
Burr (R-NC)
Clinton (D-NY)
Coburn (R-OK)
Dodd (D-CT)
Enzi (R-WY)
Feingold (D-WI)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Leahy (D-VT)
Obama (D-IL)
Sanders (I-VT)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)

William Amos on May 24, 2007 at 10:33 PM

However you get in a fight, you don’t want to appear to lose it. It only encourages the unstable and violent and despotic.

Meaning: you have to kill as many jihadists as possible before you hand the mess back to the mostly useless, sectarian-poisoned, anti-democratic Iraqis, then move most of the Coalition Forces to the Kurdish area, protect the oilfields, and prepare to take out the Iranian nuke program.

Merely “leaving” (redeploy to Okinawa, etc.) would give the enemy (jihadists of all stripes) irrational encouragement.

We need to be killing our way out of this war zone.

And preparing for the next battlefront.

Since the Jihad will come at us from other members of this violent “faith”.

Because recruiting new militant suckers of Allah, via “Muslim Warrior” web sites, goes on everywhere, daily.

The propaganda war against the homicidal dogmas of Islam hasn’t even begun yet.

Which is the more important part of this conflict.

We need to know two things:

Paper Tigers get burned.

And the Jihad is the heart of Islam.

profitsbeard on May 25, 2007 at 1:07 AM

Time for the lefties to load the Birkenstocks into the Subaru and drive to France.

Sven on May 25, 2007 at 2:07 AM

According to the WaPo, sectarian killings are rising again and the rise in sectarian violence has followed a recent increase in mass-casualty suicide attacks and car bombings.

That’s not the trendline you get from the Associated Press, however.

The WaPo is picking different time periods for each — as well as mixing Baghdad numbers with Baghdad+selected provinces numbers with nationwide numbers — to get maximum antiwar spin.

Karl on May 25, 2007 at 2:16 AM

Time for the lefties to load the Birkenstocks into the Subaru and drive to France.

Sven on May 25, 2007 at 2:07 AM

I’ll drink to that: once they arrive in Fwance, it’ll be a matter of days before their Subaru gets torched by nondescript “youths” that just happen to be adherents of Islam.

Chirac’s legacy (average of 100 cars every night torched by Islamic radicals, OFF scandal, and pandering to Ahmadinejad and Saddam) almost rivals Bill “sorry, missed that, was too busy with Monica” Clinton.

As for the rest of it, I remain convinced that the multinational political Left hates the West so deeply that it will whore off to anyone that will make the West – and in particular, the United States – crumble. The only problem for them is, I suspect they have no idea that when Stalin referred to “useful idiots”, he was looking right at them.

By sheer dint of numbers and resources, though, the only winner in their madness, in the long term, is China.

Wanderlust on May 25, 2007 at 5:37 AM