Thursday, December 27, 2007

As War Critics Change Views, Focus Turns to a Political Solution at Home

Another previous war critic became a public supporter for victory in Iraq this week. In doing so, he highlighted the need for Congressional lawmakers to set aside differences and find a way forward in this war.

Retired General John Batiste had, until this last weekend, been an open critic of the war in Iraq, receiving much publicity in his criticism of the war. Although not to be wholly lumped in with the “cut and run” camp, he was certainly not a catalyst for victory either.

Now he, like John Murtha the week before, has come forward with a not so critical perspective. The truth about the successful surge in Iraq continues to reclaim those who had not been hopeful in this war.

Last Saturday General Batiste co-authored an opinion piece in the Washington Post with Vets For Freedom Executive Director Pete Hegseth outlining the need for perseverance in this Long War and the need for Congress to become united in the cause for victory.

Thank you to the General for standing for victory.

In the column, Batiste and Hegseth make a very strong case for rallying Americans to five fundamental tenets: U.S. success is imperative in the fight against Islamic extremists, Iraq is the central front in that fight, the Petraeus plan is the right plan and is working, our strategy must also address Iran, and lastly, our military must grow and change to fit our national strategy.

Highlighted in the column were the open reconciliation between two who had been on opposing sides and an emphasis on finding common ground in order to focus our energies on America’s long term national security interests.

They called on Congress to have the courage to do the same.

That brings us to the fight as big as the one in Iraq itself, the fight in Washington D.C.
Much is made of the need for political reconciliation in Iraq. It is probably needed more in Washington.

The surge in Iraq is clearly achieving success, some of it beyond even our greatest hopes at this time last year. Yet the success of the surge does not necessarily reflect success toward the “benchmarks” set for the Iraqi national government.

Some in Congress will be quite focused on those benchmarks during the funding fight coming in February or March. They would however, be in error, to ignore the success on the ground in Iraq, the reconciliation taking place among the Iraqi people and various religious groups, as well as the increasing functionality of local and lower levels of government.

Either reconciling the differences in political success among Iraq’s people with the shortcomings of Iraq’s national government or providing their government a pathway to success, a “political surge,” is the single biggest challenge we face over the next few months.

Ignoring success which is creating stability and achieving political reforms across the power base of Iraq, the people, simply because the Iraqi national government has been slow to move would be shortsighted and foolish.

The current trends around the country are creating the needed political solution. It just happens to not be evolving in the manner foreseen via the benchmarks.

Throwing out this success toward a political solution because it did not fit our predetermined method would most certainly be throwing the baby, the infant democracy in Iraq, out with the dirty bathwater of Washington politics.

During the next few months it will be imperative that leaders in Washington D.C. heed the calls of Pete Hegseth and John Batiste to find the courage to act in the country’s best interest, not a political party’s or that of a vocal minority.

The solution here at home and a way forward toward victory will obviously not come from those who have been adamant defeatists.

Although it may, there are doubts it will come from lawmakers who have stood unyieldingly resolute in the cause for victory, though their strength will continue to be imperative for victory. We should continue to stand with those who have been critical for our success thus far.

But we should also be ready to stand with those to whom the burden for finding a workable path toward victory is likely to fall, lawmakers like Senator Ben Nelson. Those leaders who have held a reasoned stand on the war, previously sought resolutions to partisan issues, and who understand the consequences of defeat in the war against Islamic extremists will be critical to this fight in the upcoming months.

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