Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Wrong History Lesson

Not content merely to repeat the mistakes of the history it never learned, BushCo. now sinks to new lows of learning lessons from the wrong history.

The half-century US military presence in South Korea may be a model for a future in which US forces play a support role in Iraq rather than a frontline combat role, the White House said Wednesday.
No matter how long our military is in Iraq (or Afghanistan), they will never recreate the North-South Korea dynamic in the Middle East. There are no defined boundaries to turn into DMZs. There are no Cold-War-Style militaries staring each other down. There will never be a 50-year cease-fire.

As always, no matter what they try to do, this administration does it wrong.

Don't look to Korea, don't look to the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe for lessons. Look instead to the French in Indochina. Look to the US in Vietnam. Look to the Russian experience in Afghanistan. Those are the times and the places to learn from. And they all teach the same lesson: a "superpower" can never defeat an insurgency.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Missing Arms and Missing Spines

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I went to visit my Alma Mater, West Point. She had never been and was excited to take in all the history and to learn a little bit more about such a formative place in my life. As always, going back there brought out mixed feelings in me; I still have dreams about not being prepared for something or another there. The feelings are a mixture of pride and apprehension along with a little longing to be back at school.

But something brought me up short in a way that nothing else could have. We were browsing through a very nice gift shop at the visitor's center when a couple of cadets walked by speaking with what looked to be a young officer, perhaps a graduate from a few years back. Nothing out of the ordinary for such a place, until the young man turned around and I saw that he had a prosthetic arm from the elbow down.

Obviously this young lieutenant had returned from a tour in Iraq having left a good portion of his body as well as his innocence on the Iraqi sands.

This incident had stayed in the back of my head ever since. Such a thing would not be unexpected at the place where future Army officers are trained and where so many of our nation's past warriors had studied. But when you see such violence done to someone so young (could I ever have been that young?) it brings into sharp focus the results of our tragic misadventure in the Middle East.

As for the missing spines in my post title, it's the Democrat's recent cave in on the war funding bills that brought the young lieutenant with the missing arm back into the forefront of my mind. It's absolutely true that they did not have the votes to override a Presidential veto. And it's absolutely true that funding - of some type and amount - needs to be approved.

But it's also absolutely true that Democrats were, in no small part, given control of the Congress last November precisely to rein in this administration and to start bringing the catastrophe that is Iraq to an end.

In this, they have failed us all miserably.

They have failed you and I, comfortably home but paying every day in national treasure and international influence. They have failed the families of the soldiers who must endure extended time away from their young loved ones, never knowing when the young officers in their dress uniforms will knock on their door. They have failed future generations, already saddled with the cost of this adventurism.

But most importantly, they have failed that young lieutenant who was trying so hard to convey that one bit of knowledge that might helps save those who will come after him.

Whatever else they may achieve, they have failed.