Skip to comments.Jack Murtha and the Lessons of Vietnam
Posted on 12/09/2005 2:26:14 PM PST by mdittmar
Three years ago, the Iraqi people suffered under one of the most brutal dictatorships on the planet. Within the past year, the Iraqi people have voted for an interim government, written a constitution, and approved that constitution in a popular referendum. On December 15, they will continue the process of creating democracy by choosing a permanent government in a free election. Congressman Jack Murtha, ranking member of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, is not impressed. On the November 20 broadcast of NBC's Meet the Press, Murtha characterized the events of the last two years in Iraq as "an illusionary process." Murtha is "absolutely convinced that we're making no progress at all." In his most recent press conference on December 7, Rep. Murtha stated that "I can only measure progress by what I see and the things that I can actually measure," yet chose to ignore the tangible, history-making events associated with Iraq's progress towards democracy.
Congressman Murtha wants to withdraw troops from Iraq as soon as possible after the December 15 election. Murtha's withdrawal resolution claims that "the American people have not been shown clear, measurable progress towards a stable and improving economy in Iraq". The International Monetary Fund disagrees. An August IMF report on Iraqi progress projects that Iraq's 2007 per-capita gross domestic product will be nearly double its pre-war value. More importantly, the idea of per-capita in Saddam's Iraq was statistical fiction. Products and profits went to Saddam and his ruling clan. In a democratic Iraq, there will be a more equitable distribution of economic benefits. But to Jack Murtha, more resources more equally distributed to more Iraqis is no progress.
Congressman Murtha claims a certain authority to speak on the Iraq war because he is a Vietnam veteran. But his refusal to acknowledge Iraqi progress towards creation of a civil society out of the remains of a totalitarian police state shows that Rep. Murtha either forgot or never learned the most important lesson of Vietnam. As Naval War College faculty member Mackubin Thomas Owens has explained, the ultimate success of the North Vietnamese was based on their understanding that modern warfare consists of two distinct components, armed struggle and political struggle. American leaders in the early stages of Vietnam focused solely on armed struggle, believing that the political struggle could be resolved after North Vietnamese conventional military forces had been smashed. But America fell so far behind in the political struggle -- domestically, as well as abroad -- no amount of success in the armed struggle could compensate.
Rep. Murtha repeats America's key error of the Vietnam era when assessing the Iraqi front of the global war on terror; he focuses only on the armed struggle and ignores the political struggle. The only difference between Rep. Murtha and his Vietnam-era predecessors is that Murtha has replaced a quest for a decisive military victory with an offer of appeasement. The Murtha withdrawal plan is a call to end the armed struggle by giving the Iraqi insurgency what it wants. Rep. Murtha then expects the political struggle to somehow resolve itself in America's interest.
It is doubtful that violent insurgents -- already regularly targeting other Muslims and Arabs -- will lay down their arms after US forces withdraw from Iraq. Worse still, pacification following an American withdrawal has been made even less likely by Murtha's high-visibility refusal to acknowledge Iraqi progress towards constitutional democracy and a more equitable distribution of wealth. Iraqi insurgents will conclude that American leadership unwilling to talk about political progress in Iraq does not care about political progress in Iraq. The isolation of voters and poll workers and elected representatives and police recruits and municipal officials from visible support will energize the insurgents.
If Congressman Jack Murtha's silence on the hard-fought successes in Iraq's political struggle is an accident of sloppy communication, then Rep. Murtha should correct the mistake and end the impression that he and his party have disengaged from political struggle against terrorism -- an impression that can only boost enemy morale. If, on the other hand, Rep. Murtha and his party are not acknowledging Iraq's successes because they really are willing to sacrifice Iraqi democracy for a little short-term political advantage at home, then Rep. Murtha's "redeployment" plan should be dismissed as code for surrender.
The author is a TCS contributing writer.
Murtha characterized the events of the last two years in Iraq as "an illusionary process." Murtha is "absolutely convinced that we're making no progress at all."
I wonder what we would Call Murtha if he had said this during our own American revolution?
Benedict Arnold was also a war hero, the Battle of Saratoga. But apparently Arnold thought the progress to independence was an illusion also, so we went over to the enemy. Sound familiar?
And what he sees and hears is spoon fed to him by the liberal media.
He is a tool.
If he hasn't seen the successes in Iraq, he must be intentionally avoiding the truth.
We almost went down this road again. Thank God that the Administration woke up and, I think, in time, to prevent this from happening again. The tipping point was way too close.
But the most damning thing he can be called is an ex-Marine by a Marine.As such, he can not bring dishonor to the Corps.This is what some of my old Marine buddies have told me.
That being the case, he can only dishonor himself, as he most certainly has done.
Like the self-made hero John Kerry, Murtha was a drill sergeant which obviously provides him with the military expertise of a Napoleon Bonaparte. Almost all of his military time was spent in the reserve.
Disagree. The US withdrew its military forces from Vietnam on March 29, 1973. The last American soldier to die in combat in Vietnam, Lt. Col. William B. Nolde, is killed on January 27, 1973. The South Vietnamese managed to defend their own country until we withdrew financial support starting in September 1974. The U.S. Congress appropriates only $700 million for South Vietnam. This leaves the South Vietnamese Army under-funded and results in a decline of military readiness and morale. January 8, 1975 - NVA general staff plan for the invasion of South Vietnam by 20 divisions is approved by North Vietnam's Politburo. By now, the Soviet-supplied North Vietnamese Army is the fifth largest in the world. It anticipates a two year struggle for victory. But in reality, South Vietnam's forces will collapse in only 55 days.
January 14, 1975 - Testifying before Congress, Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger states that the U.S. is not living up to its earlier promise to South Vietnam's President Thieu of "severe retaliatory action" in the event North Vietnam violated the Paris peace treaty.
January 21, 1975 - During a press conference, President Ford states the U.S. is unwilling to re-enter the war.
April 23, 1975 - 100,000 NVA soldiers advance on Saigon which is now overflowing with refugees. On this same day, President Ford gives a speech at Tulane University stating the conflict in Vietnam is "a war that is finished as far as America is concerned."
April 30, 1975 - At 8:35 a.m., the last Americans, ten Marines from the embassy, depart Saigon, concluding the United States presence in Vietnam. North Vietnamese troops pour into Saigon and encounter little resistance. By 11 a.m., the red and blue Viet Cong flag flies from the presidential palace. President Minh broadcasts a message of unconditional surrender. The war is over.
The South Vietnamese defended their country for over two years until the NVA violated the Paris Peace Accords by invading the South and finally won by military force. The North could not win politically.
Yes this War in Iraq is alot like the vietnam war...in that there are still Stupid (In Murtha's case) or Seditious ( In Howard Dean and John Kerry's) Idiots still
Undermining our troop morale, and working to Loose this war just as we are winning.
Yes there is alot that the 2 wars reflect. The scum and usefull idiots of America's Left.
All of my brothers time was spent in the Marine Reserves,he served in Desert Storm
"Between November 1990 and January 1991, 4th Tank Battalion was mobilized in support of Operation Desert Shield/Storm. Elements of the battalion were "in country" and combat ready within 32 days of activation. During the Gulf War mobilization, the 4th Tank Battalion, a United States Marine Corps Reserve unit in the 4th Marine Division, successfully transitioned from the M-60 to the M1-A1 Main Battle Tank in just 45 days. The battalion trained, shot and qualified, then deployed to the Gulf where it fought alongside its active Marine Corps counterparts. Indeed, one of its companies knocked out 35 of 36 Iraqi tanks in less than five minutes.
That was my brothers Company.Bravo Company - Yakima, WA
Murtha is an ass,his reserve status has nothing to do with it.
Well said. The most positive thing about Murtha is that he served. And military service--active and reserve--is an act of patriotism and to be commended.
Mr. Kabar, don't overlook this part of the article...
...the ultimate success of the North Vietnamese was based on their understanding that modern warfare consists of two distinct components, armed struggle and political struggle.
So many in the US, especially post Vietnam, frequently yield to John Kerry and Jane Fonda of Vietnam and the Rep Murtha of Iraq arguments that they are just positing a political opinion. What they are positing is a warfare position using the body politic.
I think most everyone at FR would agree warfare is seen as men sacrificing, and sometimes bleeding and dying on the battlefield. But how that battlefield is shaped, and the outcome of the battle, is directly affected by politicians. When a cowardly U.S. Congress cut South Vietnam's access to the money for ammunition, equipment, road building, etc, they broke an oath and doomed many good people to torture and death. I find it hard to sling accusations of "traitor" in the Congress of 1974's actions, cowardly suffices quite well. Just the same, there is no clean divide between Politics and War.
But what Dean, Pelosi, Murtha, Kerry, et.al. are doing is beyond cowardly yielding to the political wind. They are the leaders of a propaganda campaign in rank with the enemy. They inspire the jihad. They are all traitors in this most real war!
I agree with you that Kerry, Murtha, Pelosi, et. al., are aiding the enemy to win something they cannot do militarily and politically within Iraq. In that sense, it is similar to what Kerry did when he returned from Vietnam. They provide the enemy with hope and the encouragement to continue with the struggle, i.e., the killing of American personnel and innocent Iraqis.
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