Saturday, November 19, 2005

OK. What Was The Mission Again?

In response to Rep. John Murtha's call this week for the withdrawl of U.S. troops from Iraq, the President had the following to say from South Korea:

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea, Nov. 19 -- Facing a backlash on Iraq both at home and abroad, President Bush declared Saturday that an early troop withdrawal would be "a recipe for disaster" and renewed his vow to stay in the war until "we have completed our mission."

Trading his suit coat for a bomber's jacket, Bush delivered his sharp retort to war opponents surrounded by cheering troops in camouflage uniforms at this U.S. military base south of Seoul. While ostensibly on an overseas trip focused on economics, Bush directed his attention to critics at home in remarks just hours after the House voted down a proposal to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq.

"In Washington, there are some who say that the sacrifice is too great and they urge us to set a date for withdrawal before we have completed our mission," he told several thousand service members in a drafty hangar at the headquarters of the 7th Air Force, the main U.S. Air Force unit in South Korea. "Those who are in the fight know better."

Leaving aside the bomber jacket, I have two questions w/r/t the entreaty to stay the course until "we have completed our mission."

The first is, "what exactly is the mission?" The second is, "how will we know when it is completed?"

For all the talk about staying the course and completing the mission, I'm still having a hard time hearing from the President what the mission is. Now, that is -- since we've had plenty of missions over the course of this action. Reviewing:
  • Mission: Remove Saddam Hussein - Check
  • Mission: Neutralize the WMDs - Check (with the rather important asterisk that they weren't there in the first place)
  • Mission: Establish democracy - Check (Right? January parliamentary elections, October constitutional elections, upcoming December parliamentary elections -- it's a democracy, right?)
So what's the mission that is still to be accomplished? Defeating the insurgency? Veep says it's in its been in its last throes for months. Establish the Iraqi army? 200,000 strong, man.

So what is it, exactly, that is so importantly left undone that it would cause the creature known as Ohio Representative Jean Schmidt to label Murtha -- a former Marine drill instructor, bronze star and purple heart winner -- a "coward" for stating what is obvious to most of the country:
"Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency," Murtha said in a Capitol news conference that left him in tears. Islamic insurgents "are united against U.S. forces, and we have become a catalyst for violence," he said. ". . . It's time to bring them home."
If the object is to create more terrorists, we seem to have been doing that for a while. That fact alone should be argument enough to support the troops by declaring mission(s) accomplished (again), and bringing them home. Take a year if necessary to do it, but do it.


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