Originally Published 15 January 2006
One lazy Sunday afternoon I watched the news clip of a Pennsylvania National Guard Sergeant berating Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman John Murtha and one of his comrades for their views on Iraq and our military during a “town hall meeting.” I cheered right along with the unseen crowd as the soldier finished his comments.
John Murtha is a Vietnam veteran, and a retired Colonel in the Marine Corps. It is fair to say that he has been a hawk for military affairs. It is also logical and acceptable for him to point out the need to continue to fund the military at high levels in fighting the global war on terror.
However, as I ponder the distance, measured in time, he is from the Marine Corps, I can’t help but worry if I might someday suffer the same loss of will to fight that has gripped him. It’s a terrible shame that any Marine, officer or enlisted, would advocate running from a fight the way John Murtha has. I suspect the famed and highly decorated Lewis “Chesty” Puller would have been extremely upset with him.
Then again, maybe I don’t have much to worry about. Maybe he has caught something contagious with his associations in Washington I am not exposed to. While working around the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Hagel, maybe the old Marine simply “came down with something” and needs a good dose of motivation the Marine Corps is so famous for. But, with anything that ails you, you can’t be cured until you remove yourself from the source, or remove the source from yourself.
Or, maybe it’s that Al Qaeda is simply right about Americans like Murtha. Our enemies aren’t idiots. We may see them as being misguided, crazy, or fanatical, but they’re not dumb. It’s safe to say that they’ve studied the history of U.S. politics, military actions, and the mechanics of our society. They’ve also studied the writings of Giap, Mao, and the lessons learned from the North Vietnamese and Somali warlords for successful guerilla campaigns.
Al Qaeda knows there is a certain portion of the U.S. population who will not fight for any reason. They also know there is a second group that won’t fight unless they’re attacked by a clearly defined enemy, and a third group that will seemingly lose the will to fight when political polls, ideology, and personal gain interfere with doing what’s right and necessary. Enter John Murtha et al.
Al Qaeda knows that if they simply “trigger” these groups in America they could win. They don’t need to win on the battlefield; they simply need to win with the press, politicians, and people in these three groups who lack the resolve to defend the United States against their asymmetrical plan of attack. Recent poll numbers would suggest Al Qaeda’s strategy is working; these groups have lost whatever will to fight they might have started with.
The calls by Murtha and friends for an immediate pull out of Iraq, without any discussion or concern as to the short or long term consequences of such a move, are not totally unforeseen events. Al Qaeda hoped and counted on them.
Al Qaeda has correctly strategized, with respect to those noted above who do not have the will to fight unless the threat to themselves is absolute or who will lose the will to fight when personal gain for opposing the conflict surfaces. Al Qaeda knew their threat would be hard to gauge, unclear and uncertain.
These Americans were on board after 9/11, but now they fail to understand or admit the threat still exists. Because we are fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq and Afghanistan, not here, these groups are losing or have lost the will to fight. As things have become “foggy” and less specific, politicians like Murtha, Hagel, and Pelosi are demonstrating either a lack of conviction toward national security, political positioning for personal gain, or a lack of knowledge about the threat, or a combination of all three.
The Islamic Jihadists hate us no matter what and are going to keep planning and attempting attacks. And we know they are emboldened by any weak response to their attacks or the outcome of events such as Mogadishu. Will pulling out of Iraq prematurely give them yet another encouraging event and reaffirm Al Qaeda’s strategy? Because the answer is “yes,” you then have to question the conviction or thinking of those Americans advocating immediate pull out; actions which many agree would not be in the interest of our national security. It really makes you question either their level of concern for our national security in relation to other motives or their capacity to recognize the consequences of immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Both of which Al Qaeda knows are necessary matters of course to develop in their opponent for a successful “small war”.
Al Qaeda is then right, in as much as they counted on Americans with weak national security resolve, short-sightedness of action, and who put personal gain and politics above all else, to develop anti-war sentiment from within to work in their favor. Whether Al Qaeda’s course of action prevails is yet to be seen. Meanwhile, the world (especially now Iran) is watching.