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I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Lower and lower . . . Ralph Peters speaks in the NY Post

Ralph Peters has a vile little column in the New York Post today which makes Jean Schmitt's screeching House speech seem like elegant diplomacy. The gist of Peters' column is that those who think we should look for ways to end our military occupation in Iraq want America to lose, want the terrorists to win, and want our soldiers to die (because the soliders aren't Ivy League graduates and would vote Republican). No, really - those are his points, and he (commendably) makes them expressly, instead of with the standard innuendo.

Unsurprisingly, Peters' filth is all the rage today in the predictable war-crazed circles, where no accusation against those who speak ill of the war is too reprehensible or scurrilous to be celebrated. Here are just a few of the more reprehensible excerpts:


Increasingly, quitting looks like the new American Way of War. No matter how great your team, you can't win the game if you walk off the field at half-time. That's precisely what the Democratic Party wants America to do in Iraq.

Planning to leave a country after we've occupied it for 2 1/2 years is no different than a football team that walks off the field at half-time. Both are quitters. How many more years do we have to stay for Peters to think that we've completed the fourth quarter?


Forget the fact that we've made remarkable progress under daunting conditions:

He's right that we've made remarkable progress -- towards the goals of bringing chaos and anarchy to Iraq, provoking dangerous regional instability and sectarian strife, and providing Al Qaeda with a brand new Afghanistan where they can operate with impunity. Isn't that enough progress for one war?


The Dems are looking to throw the game just to embarrass the Bush administration.


Does it ever occur to people who argue this way that it's possible for other people to think, reason and analyze in good faith and still reach a different conclusion? Does Peters really believe that things are going so swimmingly in Iraq that no person in good faith can think that our military presence there is doing more harm than good - both to Iraq and, more importantly, to U.S. national security?

For instance, something like this: (via Firedoglake)


As friends describe it, Rep. Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania had been searching his soul for months, seeking guidance on what to do in Congress about Iraq. "I think he was going through what we Catholics call a 'long night of the soul'," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut. In 1974, Democrat Murtha had become the first Vietnam veteran elected to the House. A decorated Marine from the mountainous "Deer Hunter" country east of Pittsburgh, he had always been a down-the-line hawk and a favorite of the Pentagon generals....Murtha was the one-man tipping point.


Initially a strong supporter of the conflict, he had voted for it and the money to pay for it. But on his last trip to Iraq, he had become convinced not only that the war was unwinnable, but that the continued American military presence was making matters far worse. "We're the target, we're part of the problem," he told NEWSWEEK. Back in Washington, he resumed his weekly pilgrimage to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, visiting severely wounded casualties in rehab and agonizing over what he saw there. "I think those visits affected him deeply," said DeLauro. In a long chat with an Irish colleague, he talked about his congressional hero and mentor, another blue-collar Irishman, Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill. No liberal on defense, in 1967 O'Neill had stunned President Lyndon B. Johnson by telling him that the Vietnam War had become a lost cause. Now, Murtha mused, it was his turn to confront a president with harsh truths.


Now back to the Peters smear:


Forget about our dead soldiers, whose sacrifice is nothing but a political club for Democrats to wave in front of the media.


Personally, I think it's stupid and disgusting for either side to claim that the other side doesn't value the lives of our troops. But if one side really shouldn't be claiming this, isn't it the side that sent the troops to their deaths?


While we're at it, let's just print up recruiting posters for the terrorists, informing the youth of the Middle East that Americans are cowards who can be attacked with impunity.


A person could really choke to death on the odorous, suffocating intellectual dishonesty in this argument. So pulling troops out of Iraq would help Al Qaeda's recruiting efforts, would it? And what has violently invading and then occupying the oldest and one of the most symbolically important Muslim countries in the Middle East for 2 1/2 years done to Al Qaeda's recruiting efforts?


Whatever you do, don't talk about any possible consequences. Focus on the moment — and the next round of U.S. elections. Just make political points. After all, those dead American soldiers and Marines don't matter — they didn't go to Ivy League schools. (Besides, most would've voted Republican had they lived.)


What's there to add to that, except to note the pitiful irony of someone who favored sending troops to their death accusing those who were against doing that of not sufficiently valuing the lives of the troops. Say what you will about opponents of the war, but the undeniable reality is that if they had their way, 2,100 troops who are now dead and another 10,000 or so seriously wounded for life would, instead, be alive and healthy.

There are sometimes very compelling reasons to wage war, and the fact that someone favors a war that results in the death of soliders is by no means evidence that the person does not value the lives of those soldiers. But that person really ought to refrain from accusing others -- especially those who opposed such wars -- of not caring about the lives of soliders.


What do the Democrats fear? An American success in Iraq. They need us to fail, and they're going to make us fail, no matter the cost. They need to declare defeat before the 2006 mid-term elections and ensure a real debacle before 2008 — a bloody mess they'll blame on Bush, even though they made it themselves.


Translation: The reason that things aren't going as well as we promised is because of the Democrats (who have no power over any branch of government). Things are a disaster with the war we desperately wanted -- but not because of anything we did, but because of the Democrats.

Many have predicted that war proponents would attempt this trick once they were finally forced to admit that their scheme to create Iraq in their own image failed. I guess this is what we now see being trotted out by the self-proclaimed Beacons of Personal Responsibility.

If we run away from our enemies overseas, our enemies will make their way to us. Quit Iraq, and far more than 2,000 Americans are going to die.

Yes, you see - Al Qaeda would be over in the U.S. blowing things up, but they are all busy right now in Iraq. But if we leave Iraq, their schedules will be freed up and they'll start looking for other things to do and then they'll come to the U.S. and kill Americans.


Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer.

So is Wes Clark. And Jack Murtha is a retired Marine. And John Kerry is a decorated veteran. But that apparently doesn't immunize them from being accused of wanting to surrender to terrorists in order to ensure that the U.S. is defeated, because they don't care about the lives of lowly soldiers and would love to see the U.S. lose to Al Qaeda if it means they can pick up a few House seats.

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