J.F. Kelly, Jr. - Contributor
Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who
writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident
of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]
of Wartime Conduct
[J. F. Kelly, Jr.] 6/15/04
we winning the war in Iraq? Or, to put it more precisely, are
our objectives there? For answers, we can rely
on the liberal media with the daily commentaries on how badly
things are going, reinforced by the administration’s political
opponents who tell us how misguided our foreign policies are
and what a disaster “Bush’s war” has been.
Or we can
listen to our military commanders and read the emails from
from which a totally different picture emerges.
From them we hear not only of the setbacks, disappointments and
casualties, but also of the accomplishments and steady, if unspectacular,
progress. Is it all worth the cost in lives and treasure? That’s
for historians to answer, not journalists or political candidates
whose motives are to discredit their opponents and win elections.
Sadly, however, the latter seem already to have passed judgment
and pronounced the war a failure. Setbacks in Fallujah and other
areas in the Sunni triangle, home to many of the Saddam loyalists,
have been extrapolated to project a picture of disaster for coalition
forces throughout Iraq. But this picture is simply not accurate.
progress in Iraq, one has to consider the whole of the California-sized
country. The Kurds, in the relatively peaceful
and prosperous north, welcomed our intervention and welcome us
still, fearing mainly that we will leave too soon, as we did
after the first gulf war, before some degree of security can
be counted on in the wake of our departure. Other large parts
of the country are relatively peaceful as well and most Shia
acknowledge that they are infinitely better off than they were
under Saddam’s tyrannical rule.
constructive accomplishments in the country are not being reported
news media far more interested in fueling
controversy by keeping a contentious debate over Bush’s
foreign policy alive throughout the election campaign. And Bush’s
political opponents, determined to regain the presidency at any
cost, seem incapable of restraint even if it harms our war effort
by demoralizing our soldiers and encouraging the terrorists.
and political opposition exploited the Abu Ghraib prisoner
to the point where it clearly became
a distraction to the military leadership at a critical juncture,
just prior to the scheduled June 30th handover of sovereignty
to the Iraqis. Demands for Secretary Rumsfeld’s resignation
have weakened his influence, though hopefully not critically.
to undercut the president appears to be working, judging from
that show approval of the president’s
conduct of the war declining. It is, of course, part of the greater
campaign to defeat his reelection bid. But what happens if his
political opponents gain the presidency but lose the war? Are
we reliving Vietnam?
This is surely
what the terrorists are hoping for. Don’t
expect a major terrorist attack on the United States prior to
the election. Another major terrorist attack on American soil
would so inflame Americans that they would unite behind Bush
in the war on terrorism and we would witness a political shift
to the right. The terrorists may be ruthless but they are not
stupid. Whom do you think they’d prefer to see in the White
House, John Kerry or George Bush?
of getting an independent, democratic (sort of) Iraq up and
as an example to other Arab nations is
a commendable and attainable goal, in pursuit of which, we have
invested much blood and treasure. It is urgent that we succeed.
Success is rendered most difficult, however, when the commander-in-chief
of the armed forces is under constant attack in the press, not
for his performance as the nation’s chief executive, but
for his conduct of a war to which thousands of our troops have
been committed. It seems to me that war, if this is truly a war,
demands certain standards of conduct for journalists and politicians
that permits them to do their jobs honorably without impeding
the war effort as it were, especially since most of them are
clueless as to what they would do differently, considering the
situation we are in.
to those who loudly proclaim themselves to be against the war,
that troops are on the ground, fighting and
dying to accomplish what they were sent to do by our duly elected
leaders. Since we elect people to govern for us, we are bound
by their decisions. Therefore, this cannot be pawned off as Bush’s
war. It is our war and these troops are fighting on our behalf,
whether we like it or not. They deserve our support.
also, that they believe in their cause and their mission whether
do or not. Otherwise, they wouldn’t
be there, this being an all-volunteer force. So if you exercise
your constitutional right to disagree publicly with the war or
the correctness of their mission, please don’t insist that
you support the troops but oppose their mission. Since they put
their mission above their own lives, that sort of hypocrisy doesn’t
play well with them. We simply can’t have it both ways.
If we support the troops, we support their mission. We are either
for them or we are not. CRO
2004 J. F. Kelly, Jr.