Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Moral Clarity on Iraq.

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld’s speech to the American Legion on Tuesday has stirred commentary and criticism over remarks comparing today’s war critics to history’s appeasers and isolationists. Important democrats like Ted Kennedy seem particularly offended by Rumsfeld quoting any history, other than the history of the Vietnam War. Vietnam is the only historical event that many left wing critics want referenced in the ongoing national debate about security, terrorism, and Iraq. Rumsfeld critics should have been paying attention last Saturday to his dialogue with a protester

“Get us out of Iraq now!” A voice yelled from the crowd.

“I know the feeling!” Rumsfeld replied.

Obviously Rumsfeld, Bush, the entire administration, and the US military would all like the War in Iraq to be over. It has hurt them politically, both internationally and domestically. The issue hovers over the coming midterm elections like giant black cloud for republican candidates. And it certainly threatens to stain a historical perspective of this Bush administration if there is no positive resolution. I certainly would like to see us end our massive involvement in Iraq. But like the administration, and most Americans I know that simply pulling out immediately is not the answer.

It is to those critics who want an immediate withdrawal that Rumsfeld aimed Tuesday’s remarks. They who display a moral and intellectual confusion. Indeed why do the media report every incidence of alleged military misconduct, but almost none of the hundreds of incidents of valor? Why are some Americans willing to equate such incidents of misconduct with the systematic brutality of men like Saddam Hussein, bin Laden and Zarqawi? What is the solution to the ambitions of such men to dominate the Islamic world and to make unfettered war upon those of us who live in western democracies?

A question worth exploring is who, besides the American and European left wants us out Iraq immediately? Well we can count on the opposition forces in Iraq. Zarqawi’s heirs in al-Qaeda in Iraq, Saddam’s heirs in what remains of the Sunni-Baathist Movement, and many of the devotees of Moqtada Sadr in the Shiite Mahdi’s Army backed by Iran.

Which brings us to outsiders who want us out of Iraq. First and foremost, is the current Iranian regime under President Ahmadinejad, who is forthright about his desire to re-enact the holocaust. Iran certainly stands to gain much from a US withdrawal. Possibly regional hegemony, if they managed to help ensure a radical Shiite state in all or part of Iraq. Then there’s Bin Laden and the rest of the al-Qaeda gang who are rooting against us. A retreat from Iraq would certainly brighten their day, hence the efforts they go to in order to import a continuing stream of money and terrorists to fight our soldiers and intimidate democracy minded Iraqis.
Who else? Well there’s the rest of the anti American mid-east, Syria and clients Hamas and Hezbollah. They're having a banner year in terms of propaganda. Why wouldn’t we want to throw them a bone? Then there are the remaining anti-American states, like North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela. The ability to proclaim American fecklessness would surely embolden all these actors to strategies not in the national interest here in the states.

So who, aside from myself, Bush and Rumsfeld stands against withdrawal? Well for starters there are the Iraqi people, who turned out in huge numbers to vote in three elections in the past two years. Now someone is going to say: “Such and such poll says that Iraqis want the Americans to leave.” Sure it just doesn’t say they want us to leave now. The same holds true here in the US. Despite dissatisfaction with the war, most Americans are against a Murtha-esque evacuation of Iraq.

In fact most Democrats, including most Democrats in congress recognize the importance of a continued US presence in Iraq. But there remains a loud chorus of Ned Lamonts, John Kerrys, John Murthas and Ted Kennedys in the Democratic party echoing the cries of the far left, and finding a ready amplifier in the press. This begs the question: why do these Americans find common cause with our enemy?

This is not to assert that the conduct of the war is above criticism. There have certainly been mistakes made at every level from President Bush to Private Snuffy. An honest review of “what went wrong” can and will assist us defeating the forces arrayed against us. Overly negative diagnosis of the current dilemma and a hasty ill advised remedy will only help our foes. But to many on the left, in the media, and in a vocal faction of the Democratic party, there is only a mantra calling for immediate withdrawal. This is the sound of moral and intellectual confusion which continues to give no small comfort to our enemies.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Back Door Draft? My *ss!!!!

Once again, voices on the left are protesting military personnel management policies as part of their criticism of the war. With last week’s announcement by the Marines that they would call up 2500 members of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) to make up for a temporary shortage of manpower in Iraq, reporters everywhere have been parroting the liberal line that this amounts to a “back door draft.” These critics count on the ignorance many Americans have about the military. In fact this recall of reservists is in no way like a draft.

In 1973 the US military ended the draft, that is, involuntary conscription. The Army then transformed itself into a professional force of volunteers. The military also adopted its new “total force concept.” This meant that the active military force would need to be supported by the various reserve components, for major deployments. Today, there are three different types of reserves. The first is the active Reserve force of each service, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and the Coast Guard. The second reserve component is the National Guard, organized by states, and available to both state and federal governments. Only the Army and the Air Force have Guard units. The third type is the IRR.

The Individual Ready Reserve is just what its name implies, a reserve of individual service members, not attached to any unit. It generally consists of soldiers who have completed the active duty portion of their initial enlistment, but still have a reserve obligation.

Since 1973 all initial enlistment contracts, in all of the services are for eight years. It doesn’t matter whether a service member enlists on active duty, in the Reserves, or in the National Guard, that first contract obligates him to eight years of service. However, very few initial enlistments are for eight years of active service, or even active reserve service. Typically a recruit signs a contract for four years on active duty or in a particular Reserve or National Guard unit, and another four years in the IRR.

This policy is made clear to service members at least twice. Once at their intitial entry right before they sign and swear in, and again at the end of their active service period. When I enlisted in the Marines in 1991, I signed an eight year contract. When I left in 1995 I was reminded of this fact, and that I was subject to recall. Furthermore, if I showed up for recall out of shape, overweight, or with controlled substances floating around in my bloodstream I would be subject to military discipline. In other words, for the next four years, I was a civilian until the military decided otherwise.

Since 2001 the Marines and the Army have each exercised this option, calling up about 10000 personnel altogether, out of a current combined US military force of 2.5 million on and off active duty. A 2004 Army call up resulted in a few protests and no shows. And the the media and the left created the phrase “back door draft.” Meanwhile the vast majority of soldiers and Marines recalled have accepted it without public commentary. Most of the recent articles have been missing any commentary by recalled reservists claiming unfair treatment.

That’s because the vast majority of reservists remember that they agreed to serve up to eight years. To say that holding service members accountable to their initial contract equates to crypto-conscription is sheer left wing sophistry. An IRR member called back to service is no more of a draftee than his active duty counterpart. And while a handful of reservists can be found to publicly comment on their frustration with recall, this doesn’t make it a draft.

Nor does it mean that a draft is imminent. Nor does it mean that one is necessary. If the military needs a temporary stop of five or ten thousand troops to accomplish short term goals then the use of IRR troops is perfectly reasonable. That’s why we have them. Such a shortfall is no reason to overturn a thirty year old policy of all volunteer service that created the finest military ever.

The Defense of Mario Lozano