November 17, 2005

America, Do Not Lose Heart Again

I will not question the patriotism nor the sincerity of Congressman John Murtha (D-PA). He is a former Marine who served in Vietnam, and I thank him for his service to our nation at that time. I cannot however, support his call to turn tail and run from Iraq.

Jim Geraghty's reponse to Murtha's speech is close to my own, but this post is not really about my feelings. Instead, I turn to another veteran comments about this war that I had agreed to publish several days ago.

You might recognize him by his handle, Old Soldier. These are his words on this war, unedited.

America, Do Not Lose Heart…, Again
A Plea from an Old Soldier

Make no mistake; we are at war with an enemy motivated by a radical theology diametrically opposed to our foundational religious underpinnings as well as our national ideology of divinely bestowed individual freedom and liberty. We can ill afford political polarization emulating our Vietnam War conclusion; political defeat snatched from the jaws of military victory. For the sake of generations to come, this war against radical Islamic terrorists must be prosecuted to a victorious conclusion… there must be no capitulation or appeasement.

In 1969, as a young man, I went off to war in Vietnam. With the anti-war movement's gain in momentum and the incessant pounding by politicians and the news media that the war was “unwinnable”, public opinion turned against the effort. America lost heart; ultimately, we dishonorably withdrew. Militarily, we had actually won1 the war, but the politicians and news media turned that victory into what is now referred to as a defeat for the U.S armed forces. That defeat was not a military defeat; it was decidedly a mutinous political surrender – laid at the feet of a lack of fortitude to see the conflict to victory. With our withdrawal came the purgings and the rise to power of Pol Pot; unnecessarily costing millions of lives. Fortunately (or unfortunately is more realistic) we suffered no adverse repercussions as a nation.

In 1990, as an older man, I went off to war in Southwest Asia. Saddam's army had invaded Kuwait. Saudi Arabia asked the United Nations for protection, fearing invasion of their state as well. Resolutions were passed; a coalition formed around the U.S. military and Desert Shield/Desert Storm ensued. This time the political leaders held their tongues; the military commanders prosecuted the war. Victory was accomplished with a minimum loss of coalition lives and done so in very short order.

Since 1968 there have been approximately 150 acts of violence directly attributed to radical Islamic terrorists. On September 11, 2001 they openly declared war on the United States proper. They have shown their absolute willingness to die to prosecute their theological agenda. With our feathers ruffled and our national ego assaulted, we responded with unified determination in Afghanistan and Iraq. But we did not kill just to kill or strike a blow at a despised enemy; we purposely resolved to displace an oppressive theocracy and a despotic dictatorship with freedom producing democratic governances for each nation. With both popular and political unity we resolutely set about to build Free states that would no longer sponsor terror; but would in fact become allies against the oppressive radicals, and become shining free beacons to oppressed nations around them. This was not an easy undertaking; desired results could not reasonably be expected to occur overnight.

In both Afghanistan and Iraq, operational control was initially given to the military commanders and resounding successes ensued. However, since the initial military successes, politicians have become involved, constraining both resources and operations; now “quagmire” becomes the description most often coined by the MSM. Political polarization is being fueled by increasingly noisy anti-war groups. One political party has come to disavow their initial support for the actions taken. Elite liberalism is crying out that this war is “unwinnable”, that, “this country isn't worth dying for.” Their twisted distortion has erroneously caused the enemy to become… us.

Militarily, to be victorious it is imperative to know the enemy; i.e., know his tactics, know his doctrine, know his motivation. Do not confuse “knowing the enemy” with “understanding” his psyche. “Understanding” is a liberalistic warm and fuzzy emotion that contributes nothing to the fight. Our military leaders know our enemy and he can be defeat with the tools we possess. The first tool is actually a toolbox consisting of law enforcement (FBI), intelligence gathering (CIA) and the armed forces. We must mount offensive operations to definitively deny his ability to freely operate. The second tool is our ideology – freedom, liberty, democratic representative governance. We cannot build a free nation where none previously existed if we lose heart and withdraw too soon; abject lesson – Vietnam.

The current polarizing movement is reminiscent of the Vietnam era; only the flames are being fanned by a tremendously biased and self-flagellating MSM fueled by elitist liberalism. Individually, journalists may be opposed to war and that truly is fine. What are not acceptable are their incessant impositions: “peace at any cost” and the “war is unwinnable.” This irresponsible behavior provides the enemy with hope; hope born of our own boisterous and impatient critics; the very same hope given to North Vietnam. Actions bear consequences; some good, some bad. An unbearable consequence is the unwarranted loss of another soldier because our enemy was fortified by America's loss of heart. Our brave Soldiers will maintain the fight to victory, provided they know we remain committed to they purpose.

Afghanistan and Iraq are but two fronts of the war. Once victory is concluded there, we must nurture the fledgling nations to maturity. How many years did we “occupy” Germany and Japan after WWII; patiently developing democratic governments? We are not an occupational army in either Afghanistan or Iraq, but each must be given time to emerge and capably assume responsibility for their own security. Both are firmly on that path. However, once each is secure, you can count on another front opening up; the radical Islamic terrorists will undoubtedly move to another terror sponsoring state. We must have concrete national resolve to engage them until they become totally ineffectual. It may require many years to accomplish the required victories one at a time; but, if we are not committed to victory, this may become the 100-Years War of the 21st Century. Failure, God forbid, would rest squarely on the shoulders of elite liberalism; the same elite liberalism that historically would categorically deny any responsibility.

For reasons involving our national security, ideology, and the safety of your grandchildren, we cannot afford to lose this war – and we will not lose if we resource the first toolbox and let the commanders prosecute the war to victory. If we do not stay the course to stabilize Afghanistan and Iraq (and beyond), we will empower our enemy beyond measure. We will unequivocally demonstrate to the radical Islamic terrorists – to that theocracy – that we are not willing to share freedom and our commitment has an expiration date. We will embolden the enemy to initiate more and more attacks against our homeland and most sadly we will no longer be able to nationally lay claim to the phrase, “These colors don't run.”

America, please do not lose heart…, again. Our freedom to exist as a nation is at stake.

I leave you with words spoken almost 45 years ago; words with probably far greater application today than when they were spoken.

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

“In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.” John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1961.

1 According to General Giap, the commander of the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces, had we continued to prosecute the war – Hanoi would have fallen. Our anti-war movement and political opposition gave the North Vietnamese government the hope they needed to hang on just long enough to finally watch us withdraw.

About the author:
Old Soldier was born and raised on the southeastern Connecticut coast. In 1967 he joined the U.S. Army to become a Warrant Officer and helicopter pilot. In 1970 he returned from Vietnam to the rabid zealot cries of “baby killer” and experienced his uniform being spat upon because he did not denounce his war duty. Other tours include: Korea, Italy, a covert intelligence mission in Central America, the First Gulf War (and by contrast returned to a tearfully humbling red carpet heroes welcome), and several other stateside assignments.

He retired after 31 years active U.S. Army service, achieving: the rank of Chief Warrant Officer Five, and the status of Master Army Aviator. His decorations include: the Legion of Merit Medal, 3 Bronze Star Medals, 3 Meritorious Service Medals, 11 Air Medals, 3 Army Commendation Medals and many more awards and decorations. He currently continues supporting U.S. Army Aviation programs as a defense contractor analyst working in South Alabama.

Update It seems Murtha's speech isn't exactly news... he said roughly the same thing last year.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at November 17, 2005 07:32 PM | TrackBack

OS, your bio sounds familiar. You weren't a chief physicians assistant were you?. I worked with a guy in Germany right before the Gulf War who was a former Vietnam helicopter pilot.

Posted by: Ray Robison at November 17, 2005 08:14 PM

Ray, No, Sir... I attended rotary wing flight training directly after boot camp and stayed in aviation my entire career. I did however support the UH PMO from Mar 2001 thru Aug 2004.

Posted by: Old Soldier at November 17, 2005 08:35 PM

okay, know chief cedarquist? That is the guy I was thinking of. Great letter!! thanks for your service.

Posted by: Ray Robison at November 17, 2005 08:38 PM

This is exactly why we can't and, hopefully, won't pull-out:

Because, and as I have argued back in 2003, by invading Iraq on a democratization platform, the cause has been hijacked in a sense and the fate of American interventionism in the region and that of democratization has been intimately linked. Should the US efforts fail, or should a perception of failure even prevail, the outcome will be catastrophic for all of us, as dozens of petty dictators claim victory and begin to crackdown, more impudently than ever - with popular sympathy and approval to boot.

Make the Dem's vote on it, put the SOB's on record. They want a blood bath, toss it to them. No discussions...nothing. Hands up vote. Pull-out or no, Bush runs the operation and they shut-the-&^$@-up till his term is over or they take it

I want to see those hands and write down the names.

I'm frankly tired of this bullshit.

Posted by: Eg at November 17, 2005 08:50 PM

Ammar's, Ammar...take it or leave it but read the whole thing: Ends & Beginnings, Fears & Hopes!

Posted by: Eg at November 17, 2005 08:52 PM

Old Soldier hits the nail on the head as usual. He really should do a brief blog with his bio and experience.

I have to disagree with just one point: that "we suffered no adverse repercussions" after our disgraceful Democrat led pullout and defeat in Vietnam.

I can recall every difficult national security question we faced during those long years of the cold war with the ghost of Vietnam haunting us in the background.

Worse yet, Osama bin Laden knows very well how badly our nation was damaged from that disaster. His stooges mention it frequently as a model for how they expect to win in Iraq.

And yet, our liberal friends seem almost eager to have history repeat itself as a tool to regain power.

Our defeat in Vietnam was partly to blame for the election of Jimmy Carter. Does anyone think repeating that history would be a good idea?

Posted by: Mike's America at November 17, 2005 09:52 PM

Thank you Old Soldier. I needed a morale boost. I have been getting so discouraged with the negative talk and the whining of even our own GOP. Someone needs to kick these people in the butt and tell them, "You will lose this war as surely as if you waved a white flag in surrender, so get your act together!"

Posted by: Anna at November 18, 2005 12:08 AM

Thanks, Mike for stopping by. You are quite right; we did face a national security issue post Vietnam. I lived it from within the ranks expected to defend our nation and national interests against the Red Hordes believed to be postured to mount a massive attack through the Fulda gap in Germany or breeching the DMZ in Korea. The Vietnam loss was credited to the military; the politicians got away clean.

In the interest of trying to keep a long-winded article from being too long (and failing miserably), I made that comment from the perspective of an impact on the average American’s way of life. Unfortunately (from my perspective) the anti-war crowd suffered nothing because of their subversive activities. They hurt our national image within the world aspect and did embolden the old USSR somewhat. However, their way of life wasn’t significantly impacted.

That will not be the case, should we lose this war against the radical Islamic terrorists. Their way of life will be impacted just like your's and mine. For all our sakes, we cannot let that happen.

For the record, from a military perspective, Jimmy Carter was the absolutely worst president this country ever placed in the position of Commander In Chief. I thank God for men like Ronald Reagan and George Bush; men willing to stand up against the great world oppressors whether they are nations or radical ideologists.

Posted by: Old Soldier at November 18, 2005 07:32 AM

Amen Brother!

Posted by: SquidGrunt at November 18, 2005 10:29 AM