Adam Ash

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Monday, June 05, 2006

The amazing Iraq War critic John Murtha - pity we don't have more people in Congress like him

John Murtha is More Right Every Day -- by David Rossie

Maybe this time they'll listen to John Murtha, but don't count on it. Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat in the House of Representatives, is a dangerous man -- dangerous that is to the civilian geniuses in the Pentagon and White House who have made such a splendid mess of the Iraq adventure.

Murtha is dangerous because he is a strong critic of the war, because he is a retired Marine Corps officer, and because he has a habit of telling the truth.

Truth is as unwelcome at the Pentagon and the White House as Murtha is.

Last year, Murtha interrupted the "Freedom is on the march; when the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down," crooning that was coming from the White House, by noting that our continued presence in that unfortunate country, no matter how well-intended, is making matters worse for its citizens instead of better.

Give the Iraqis a deadline for forming a government and putting their house in order, Murtha suggested, and then withdraw American forces, but not so far distant that they could not intervene in an emergency.

Rumsfeld and his puppet Myers scoffed at the suggestion and one friendly media hack suggested that withdrawal to Okinawa would make intervention difficult to say the least. Of course, Murtha had suggested withdrawing to Kuwait, which is somewhat closer to Iraq than Okinawa, but then facts are irrelevant to that crowd.

Now Murtha is back, talking sense about the recently disclosed killing of Iraqi civilians by a group of Marines out to avenge the death of a comrade. The case against the Marines is strong, and if true it is inexcusable, but it is not inexplicable.

Murtha was on the talk shows last weekend, not to make excuses for the Marines involved, but to talk about extenuating circumstances -- circumstances such as stress, stress brought on by repeated deployment to the killing grounds of young men barely out of or not yet out of their teens.

Some of these boys-turned-men-in-a-hurry are on their second or third tour of duty in Iraq. They have no illusions about their own mortality. Sanctity of human life may sound good, but it can be a little difficult to apply when death is a constant companion.

The national media have climbed all over this story and will continue to milk it for all it's worth. When an Air Force fighter/bomber mistakenly slaughters an Afghan wedding party or a missile fired from a cruiser in the Persian Gulf destroys an apartment building in Iraq and everyone in it, we dismiss it with a few sympathetic lines about collateral damage and move on.

We do not try to make monsters out of the pilots or the fire control officers on the cruiser.

But when the killing is up close and personal, well, that's another matter. All right, there is a difference. One is accidental, the other deliberate, but the pilots and the fire control officers lead antiseptic lives compared to their brothers in arms on the ground.

Perhaps when the media finish with those few rogue Marines they can find time for another kind of expose: the number of foot soldiers who have come home from Iraq and Afghanistan with wounds that don't show; the kind that never heal because they are all between the ears.

We have laws in this country that prevent over-the-road truckers from driving more than a certain number of hours without rest. The reason: stress and fatigue that make them a threat to themselves and others.

Perhaps someday, people in the Pentagon will realize that the people they send to kill other people are subject to the same human frailties.

Perhaps someday, they'll start paying attention to people like John Murtha instead of Richard Perle and Douglas Feith.


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