Conservative Voices Against the Iraq War

In all likelihood, U.S. forces will still be in Iraq by year’s end. By that time, some 4,000 Americans will have perished, victims of an unnecessary and poorly managed war. (The number of U.S. casualties currently stands at 3,722.) For many months now, a significant majority of Americans have made their opposition to the war and their desire for its end abundantly clear. Yet the war wages tragically on, thanks in large part to the neoconservative holdouts who somehow manage to claim the high moral ground while their heads are deeply embedded in the sand (or somewhere else the sun does not shine), a feat of contortion that would be admirable were it not so deadly to others.

Still, though these individuals may seem to predominate (perhaps because they so loudly cheer the war on), the fact of the matter is that their numbers are gradually diminishing. Many conservatives have come around to the point of view that the war has been a debacle from the start, one that has come at the expense of both this nation’s treasury and the fine men and women who serve in the U.S. military. One such conservative is retired Major General John Batiste, who provided the following op-ed piece to the Center for American Progress after the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times declined to publish it:

Over a year and a half ago, I made a gut-wrenching decision to leave the Army in order to speak out about the war in Iraq. I turned my back on over 31 years of service and what by all accounts would have been a great career. I realized that I was in a unique position to speak out on behalf of Soldiers and their families. I had a moral obligation and duty to do so. My family and I left the only life we knew and entered the political debate. As a two-time combat veteran, I understand the value of thorough planning and deliberate execution. I understand what it takes to win. As a life-long Republican, I am prepared to carry on with the debate for as long as necessary. I have been speaking out for the past 17 months and there is no turning back.

As a conservative, I am all for a strong military and setting the conditions for success. America goes to war to win. I am not anti-war and am committed to winning the struggle against world-wide Islamic extremism. But, I am outraged that elected officials of my own party do not comprehend the predicament we are in with a strategy in the Middle East that lacks focus and is all but relying on the military to solve the diplomatic, political, and economic Rubik’s Cube that defines Iraq. Our dysfunctional interagency process in Washington DC lacks leadership and direction. Many conservatives in Congress have allowed the charade to go on for too long.

It is disappointing that so many elected representatives of my party continue to blindly support the administration rather than doing what is in the best interests of our country. Traditionally, my party has maintained a conservative view on questions regarding our Armed Forces. For example, we commit our military only when absolutely necessary. In the same way conservatives have always argued against government excess in social programs, the lives our young men and women in uniform, our most precious resource, are not to be used on wars of choice or for nation building. The military theorist Carl von Clausewitz taught us that wars are to be fought only as a last resort–the extension of politics by other means.

These principles are apparently not understood by many of the Republicans in our Congress. Besides the fact that many conservatives allowed President Bush to jump head-first into a war of choice, the bullheadedness of Congressional Republicans who argue for staying the course runs contrary to conservative values. Many politicians of my party continue to argue that we must liberally use up whatever our military has left. Bottom line, the Republican Congress of the last six years abrogated its Constitutional duty and share in the responsibility for the debacle in Iraq. [full text]

3 thoughts on “Conservative Voices Against the Iraq War

  1. The general is a man of honor with a record of distinuished service and dedication, and his views are worth discussion and debate. Unfortunately, politicians will drift where the breezes of the moment and self interest take them, and the dift direction is now towards seeing the positive aspects of the “Surge” no matter what the cost in American lives and dollars. Similary given less than lip service is the utter failure of a normative political process in Iraq and the failure to unite what likely cannot be united, the disparate elements of Iraq. The Surge has prodiuced very positive results and therein is the conundrum: what does this puzzle mean, is it significant and will it bring a stable nation state in a region where stability is likely an impossibility.

    I am a firm Augustan in view. I suggest that stability is as good as any other version of politics in the Middle Eastern world that prefers instability. The islands of democracy, such as Turkey, Israel, just possibly Lebanon are very different atolls of rationality in a sea of the irrational and nutsy and vicious. I suggest that that is a s good as it will get for a very long time, except if we encourage, support and protect the division of Iraq into its inherent areas of stability. The Kurds have and will do well. Fewer than 40 American soldiers are in Kurdish areas and no Americans have been casualities. The Kurds will do well with a “light” American shield. The Shiites in the south with Basra as a center will do well, but in a different way. The Kurds are marvelously democratic, participatory and capitalists with order and safety and freedome for women. The Shiities in the south will build a typically Middle easter style of governance based on intolerance, corruption and religiousity and sexism more comfortable in the 8th century and not the 21st. But it will work for them. Here, the American shield can keep the Iranian loonies contained–there is no love between the Iraqi Arabs and the Iranian non-Arabs despite thier commonality of religion. The center of Iraq will devolve into the old ways, but strong centers will emerge and can be maintained, not a a democratic ideal, but as a center of local interests, religious, business, and political.

    The wonder of all this, is that it will mirror Iraq before the destruction of Sadam and his murderers. The tragic side of all this is the mistaken and horrendous expenditure of American men and women, wealth and energy, ideals and morality. I do maintain that what has happened in Iraq has not been worth the life of a single American kid, dead or horribly damaged in body and mind. It has not been worth the tears of a single family member hearing of the loss or injury of a loved one.

    All the more praise to the general for speaking out. Unfortunately, the political wids have shifted and those who shold speak up in Congress, Senate and House, will drift with the wind. They will look to their own next election and will say what they think will get votes and not what is best for us and our military, and more of our kids will die for nothing.

  2. I echo the comments of the general.

    The plan, if there was one Rumsfeld, failed and failed miserably. The new plan may work out better but we may also be so far gone from where we need to be, it’s likely any “Surge” will only have a temporary effect.

    If this administration does nothing for the next year and a half, I hope they will look America in the eye and say sorry. Highly unlikely, but one can always hope.

  3. Hi Don, It’s good to hear from you again. As you can see from the Reuters article on consumer comfort, the Iraq war is taking its toll on many things, including the US economy.

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