The public spoke in the election. They said, "We want this thing to end; it’s not working." There’s been too much rhetoric, there’s too much optimism about this whole thing. We need to get this thing out of the way. - Rep. John Murtha
Here we are nearly four years into the supremely arrogant and misguided war in Iraq and two months after the Democratic Party took control of Congress. The election made it very clear about our desire to see an end to the Iraq quagmire and the sooner the better. Our elected officials still can't seem to figure out how to bring the desires of the American voters to fruition. We have a whole range of ideas from defunding the war to the idea of setting benchmarks for measuring progress on the table but there is really only one viable alternative right now.
It is pretty obvious that defunding is a non-starter as there just aren't the votes necessary. The suggestion of benchmarks is valid but the reality is that George Bush would just ignore them as he has every thing else he doesn't like from Congress. So, as people continue to die in this misbegotten war, what else is a realistic option for some forward movement on reacting to the will of the American people and damn soon?
Last month, Rep. John Murtha outlined a simple plan:
The legislation I'm putting together, first of all, puts restrictions on the President, on the administration, saying you can't send people back into battle until they've had a year at home...They must have the equipment and the training and they must be certified by the Chiefs of the various services before they can go back.
And yesterday, in an appearance on Meet The Press, Representative Murtha outlined it one more time:
...he’s got to certify that these troops are equipped, and they are trained, or it’s in the national interest. I am absolutely convinced the public and I agree, and the Congress agrees, we don’t send one troop into combat that doesn’t have the training they need. [...]
So we can’t send troops into combat without training, without equipment, and, and we can’t send them more than a year. [...]
We can’t send these troops in without equipment, without training. It can’t be done. If you do that, it’s a disservice to our troops and to the families, the small percentage of families that are fighting this war."
It's not a very complicated concept. After four years of over-extending our military, Murtha's plan would simply and effectively constrain Bush's capability to escalate and force him to redeploy the troops already mired in Iraq. What is now Bush's endless war could not be sustained if he had to follow the rules laid out by Murtha's legislation. Who in their right mind can argue against insuring that before we place our young men and women in harm's way that they are rested, trained and equipped before they are sent into battle? Right now it appears that the only people not in their right mind are the Bush administration and the entire Republican Party. The ugly reality is that the Republicans do not want to be forced into a vote that would make them to do what they so often chide us 'dirty hippies' about, supporting the troops.
Ever since Murtha outlined his plan, there has been a continuous attack against it by the GOP and their 'noise machine' that, for the most part, has gone unanswered by the Democratic party. They have been accused over and over again of trying to micromanage the war, enabling the terrorists and not supporting the troops. What I find hard to understand is why the obvious question goes unasked and unanswered. It is very simple...should our military be properly rested, trained and equipped before they are sent to Iraq? This is a question that we should be asking everyday of everyone involved, not just Republicans but any Democratic Congressman who opposes or wants to weaken Murtha's proposed legislation.
It is all very simple and we should not allow politics and fear of being branded a traitor to stop us from insisting that something be done about Bush's endless boondoggle.