Green Room

What Happened to the “War of Necessity”?

posted at 10:20 am on September 22, 2009 by

“Our bill calls for the redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq so that we can focus more fully on the real war on terror, which is in Afghanistan.”

So said Nancy Pelosi on March 8 of 2007. Soon after, both houses of Congress passed a bill for ending the war in Iraq, arguing that it was a distraction from the “real fight.”

The opinion implicit in that resolution — that Iraq was a war of choice and, hence, the “wrong” war, while Afghanistan was a war of necessity, thus the “right” war — was echoed by the three leading Democrat candidates for the presidency at the time, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. Howard Dean, leader of the Democrat Party, argued that “we don’t have enough troops in Afghanistan. That’s where the real war on terror is.”

The mainstream media echoed the theme, ratcheting up both the volume and fervor once Barack Obama became the presidential candidate and made this part of his platform. The din became so loud that it drowned out the most reasoned voices on the right, such as that of Charles Krauthammer, who pointed out that Afghanistan was “a geographically marginal backwater with no resources, no industrial and no technological infrastructure,” as compared with Iraq which was

one of the three principal Arab states, with untold oil wealth, an educated population, an advanced military and technological infrastructure which, though suffering decay in the later Saddam years, could easily be revived if it falls into the right (i.e. wrong) hands. Add to that the fact that its strategic location would give its rulers inordinate influence over the entire Persian Gulf region, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Gulf states.

Krauthammer’s view that an Iraq victory was critical was shared by two individuals with a heavy stake in the outcome of that battle. One of those men said “the most serious issue today for the whole world is this Third World War that is raging in Iraq.” The speaker was Osama bin Laden. The other, his chief henchman Ayman al-Zawahiri, said that Iraq “is now the place for the greatest battle of Islam in this era.”

But the Dems knew better. They always know better. So they stuck to their guns (so to speak), which is why after Barack Obama was elected president there was general agreement in Congress with his decision to add 21,000 U.S. troops to the combat forces in Afghanistan. He also spoke at the time, as Leslie Gelb writes in today’s Wall Street Journal, of “Afghanistan’s strategic centrality to prevent Muslim extremism from taking over Pakistan—an even more vital nation because of its nuclear weapons” and promised to “fully resource” the war.

That was eight months ago. Flash forward to today, when the general Obama handpicked to run the operation in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, has called for yet more troops. What is Obama’s response? “There is no immediate decision pending on resources, because one of the things that I’m absolutely clear about is you have to get the strategy right and then make a determination about resources.”

So, General Obama is of a mind that you fight a war for a while and then decide on a strategy? Interesting.

More interesting, though, is that all the strong talk about the “right war” and “war of necessity” that must be “waged and won at all costs” has suddenly vanished along with Congress’s and the left’s appetite for this war or for any war.

When a young child asks for more food than he can possibly eat, a wise parent will tell him that his “eyes are bigger than his stomach” and exercise portion control. A weak parent will give in and ending up wasting perfectly good food (or, worse, eating it himself). The Democrats have already bitten off more than they can chew. What do those of us who understand and understood all along that war is not just a political football tell our elected officials now? What do we American citizens say now about all the lives and treasure that have been expended to date in Afghanistan? Do we simply agree to “cut our losses,” as the Democrats and liberal voices are so crudely urging now? What about the ongoing threat from Islamofascists, which is sure to grow more virulent if we pull up stakes, thereby seeming to betray weakness? Finally, what do we tell the brave men and women currently in harm’s way, who may not get the combat forces they need to see this war through?

Cross-posted at Zombie Contentions

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Comments

Great job! Great writing. You do a tremendous service to this country!

Cinday Blackburn on September 22, 2009 at 10:42 AM

What Happened to the “War of Necessity”?

It became the overseas contingency operation of political convenience.

Daggett on September 22, 2009 at 11:23 AM

Thank you, Cinday. Very kind of you to say.

Howard Portnoy on September 22, 2009 at 12:15 PM

Great piece, HP. And Daggett — spot-on.

J.E. Dyer on September 22, 2009 at 2:20 PM

The strongest thread ever present in American foreign policy, from the Monroe Doctrine through to the Bush Doctrine, has historically been the advancement of liberty worldwide (a fact not contradicted by the essential caution of the Founding Fathers in international relations, nor deliberate hiccups such as the Carter years).

Until now.

Contemporary Democratic weakness and appeasement is pushing us towards a world where we fight not to extend freedom across the globe but merely to protect that which exists here. Previous Democratic presidents led the US into World War I, World War II and the Cold War (among other conflicts) but expect no more of that.

Barry and his militant defeatists, in their wisdom, know better than to be fooled by peace through strength.

Track-A-'Crat on September 22, 2009 at 2:43 PM

Obama:
See no enemies,
Hear no enemies,
Speak about no enemies.

(Except those in the U.S. or our allies…)

albill on September 22, 2009 at 4:34 PM

More interesting, though, is that all the strong talk about the “right war” and “war of necessity” that must be “waged and won at all costs” has suddenly vanished along with Congress’s and the left’s appetite for this war or for any war.

Is that surprising? Democrats/communists only do what’s politically expedient.

Look at Cindy Sheehan … the left and the media discarded her as soon as Obama was declared the winner.

darwin on September 22, 2009 at 4:42 PM

What Happened to the “War of Necessity”?

It’ll be micromanaged from the White House.

You thought LBJ was bad? Wait till Obama gets the predator control programs installed directly into his blackberry.

Khorum on September 22, 2009 at 4:52 PM

The real war of necessity has been won. They got in.

OldEnglish on September 22, 2009 at 4:55 PM

Obama’s big way out:

Bush took his eye off the ball and spent WAY too much time and ‘treasure’ in Iraq, neglecting Afghanistan. Now it’s a lost cause.

Time to Cut. And. Run.

And the enemy will be emboldened as never before.

marybel on September 22, 2009 at 5:07 PM

Maybe someone out there can enlighten me, for I am truly ignorant of this, but how does one determine whether or not a war is winnable? I wasn’t there but I don’t think the founding fathers sat there as they contemplated war with a much more powerful England and said,”Okay does anyone think this war is winnable?” Of course not. The numbers would have told them it WASN’T winnable. Only fighting a winnable war….Whether or not a war is correct seems to be based on one’s personal opinion nowadays instead of desired outcome. It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with treaties, humane measures, freedom…

Driefromseattle on September 22, 2009 at 5:33 PM

Do we simply agree to “cut our losses,” as the Democrats and liberal voices are so crudely urging now? What about the ongoing threat from Islamofascists, which is sure to grow more virulent if we pull up stakes, thereby seeming to betray weakness? Finally, what do we tell the brave men and women currently in harm’s way, who may not get the combat forces they need to see this war through?

Combat forces they need! Hell, they can’t even get rules of engagement they can use to keep our own Marines alive. On 8-9 SEP, 4 US Marines were killed during an ambush near Ganjgal, AF in the Konar Province (eastern AF). TWO were killed after getting rocketed after one man had gone down from an injury and the other was tending to him strongly suggesting they could not return effective cover fire, nor move their wounded to an area needed to care for the injured Marine. Repeated, I say again, REPEATED calls for artillery and air support were denied based upon new rules of engagement designed to protect civilians (and harm our soldiers).

Can anyone say Mogadishu? Our forces there had requested tanks, yes TANKS for support. What did Clinton send them? Well, it wasn’t M1A1 Abrams variety, it was probably TANK TOPS, because that’s about all they had between them and 3,000 khat chewing Somalis who killed and drug our men through the filthy streets of that toilet.

We are in a fight. We should fight to win, or place a leader in the White House with that mentality. If they can’t fight to win something other than an election, then we as a nation have no use for them. None.

ted c on September 22, 2009 at 5:57 PM

Maybe someone out there can enlighten me, for I am truly ignorant of this, but how does one determine whether or not a war is winnable? I wasn’t there but I don’t think the founding fathers sat there as they contemplated war with a much more powerful England and said,”Okay does anyone think this war is winnable?” Of course not. The numbers would have told them it WASN’T winnable. Only fighting a winnable war….Whether or not a war is correct seems to be based on one’s personal opinion nowadays instead of desired outcome. It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with treaties, humane measures, freedom…

Driefromseattle on September 22, 2009 at 5:33 PM

Determine the end state–ie, No taliban existing, operating, training in AFpak and secure government in place capable of securing peace, preserving democracy = win

If we do not possess the collective political, national and military will to see a conflict through to the agreed upon end state, then “win” becomes a moving target.

ted c on September 22, 2009 at 6:00 PM

It bears repeating that there is no anti-war movement in the United States, not really. There is an anti-defense movement.

Cylor on September 22, 2009 at 8:06 PM