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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Reality check from an Iraq War Vet

Pete Hegseth, a First Lieutenant in the Army National Guard and executive director of Vets for Freedom served in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division from September 2005 to July 2006. He writes today in the Washington Post about the reality check needed for the anti-war crowd on Capitol Hill.

· A deadline for withdrawal is an incentive for Iraqi political compromise. Levin thinks we ought to pressure Iraq's government with a warning tantamount to saying: "You better fix the situation before we leave and your country descends into chaos." He should consider the more likely result: an American exit date crushing any incentive for Iraqi leaders to cooperate and instead prompting rival factions to position themselves to capitalize on the looming power void.

My experience in Iraq bore this out. Only after my unit established a meaningful relationship with the president of the Samarra city council -- built on tangible security improvements and a commitment to cooperation -- did political progress occur. Our relationship fostered unforeseen political opportunities and encouraged leaders, even ones from rival tribes, to side with American and Iraqi forces against local insurgents and foreign fighters.

· We are "supporting the troops" by demanding an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Levin says that "our troops should hear an unequivocal message from Congress that we support them." He explains his vote to fund and "support" the troops while simultaneously trying to legislate the war's end. But what kind of "support" and "unequivocal message" do the troops hear from leaders in Congress who call their commanders "incompetent" or declare the war "lost"?

Such statements provide nearly instant enemy propaganda to every mud hut with a satellite dish in Iraq and throughout the Arab world. These messages do not spell support, no matter how you spin them. And they could inspire insurgents, making the situation more dangerous for our soldiers and Marines.

In his op-ed, Sen. Levin invoked the example of Abraham Lincoln, who endured years of challenges before finding the right generals and strategy to win the Civil War. After four years of uncertainty in Iraq, America finally has both the general and the strategy to turn the tide. The question is whether 2007 will unfold like 1865 or 1969.

President Lincoln chose to fight a bloody and unpopular war because he believed the enemy had to be defeated. He was right. And to me, that sounds more than a bit like the situation our country faces today. What path will we choose?

Be sure to read the entire thing. It's a great piece. And of course, thanks to Pete Hegseth (and all of our soldiers) for being a hero and serving our country in these dangerous times.


rick the mouseherder said...

Lots of buzzz about a piece in the Washington Post called Reality Check for the Antiwar Crowd By Army National Guard 1st Lt. Pete Hegseth, fronting for his group Vets for Freedom, who writes to support the administration's actions in the War in Iraq.

Pete even had a great appearance on the nationally syndicated NPR Diane Rehm Show yesterday, but something didn't seem right. I mean he had a good story, spent a year in Iraq with Army National Guard, saw the good that would come from our involvement, wanted to do something to support the war effort and his buddies in the field so he and a group of vets started his group Vets for Freedom. Unfortunately, the usually competent WAMU staff and the even more competent WaPo got reverse Swift Boated by Pete Hegseth.

According to Source Watch the organization Vets for Freedom is a GOP front organization run a well known GOP PR firm The Herald Group and involves former White House spokesman Taylor Gross.

Pete Hegseth is not all he seems to be either. Again, according to Source Watch, 1st Lt Hegsweth's day job is as a policy consultant at the Center for the American University as well as the conservative think tank Manhattan Institution. While I honor Pete's service to the country,
both WAMU and the WaPo should have been upfront with their listeners and readers about Mr. Hegseth's political associations and neocon roots, since that's how he earns his crust of bread.

Anonymous said...

Looks like that anti-war crowd now includes Republican Senator Lugar from Indiana (among others). Why do Republican Senators hate America so much?

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