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 Rubikâ€™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 resortâ€“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]