Another “Gilchrest on the Long War” moment

I told you about this letter on Friday and this morning I’m going to share the contents.

Dear Mr. Swartz:

Knowing of your interest in ensuring America’s success in Iraq and war on terrorism, I wanted to share with you some thoughts concerning our long-term strategy.

As you know, in late 2003, US and Coalition forces swiftly ousted Saddam Hussein from his brutal dictatorship. Disbanding Saddam’s military was decided necessary in dismantling Saddam’s power hold. However, in the process, this unleashed a brutal power vacuum that thrives today along religious and cultural lines. Over time, security conditions have dramatically deteriorated in much of Iraq to the point where Iraq’s society, unfortunately, is coming apart at its seams.

I regret that we were unable to formulate a post-Saddam strategy that anticipated Iraq’s complete social and political collapse and the onslaught of violent conflict, but these are the conditions we face today. And while our military continues to make heroic sacrifices, Iraqis have failed persistently to make the necessary compromises needed to unify the country and stop the bloodshed.

The nation has received a new assessment on Iraq from the Administration that is a mixed, but generally not positive assessment of our progress. There are, however, clear and present dangers that confront our current strategy in Iraq. Cycles of violence and bloodshed continue to escalate while the stress on our military mounts. As asserted by our commanders and military experts, troop levels under our current policy cannot be sustained past March of 2008. These critical variables remain at odds with our current strategy and are converging to make it almost impossible for the United States to sustain the long-term solution that is needed in Iraq.

Clearly, we need a new direction in Iraq, the Middle East, and our general fight against international terrorism. The war against violent extremism, unfortunately, will have to be fought much longer than a “surge” in troops can last. Exhausting our force policing Iraq’s civil war leaves us too vulnerable on other fronts.

This new direction should be based on the recommendation of the Iraq Study Group (ISG), and include a redefining of the mission for our troops, a deliberate and strategic withdrawal from central Iraq, and new and strengthened diplomatic efforts with Iraq’s neighbors and the international community. I am pleased that the President is beginning to quietly implement some of these recommendations under the direction of Secretary Gates, a former member of the ISG, including intensified campaigns to enlist constructive efforts from Iraq’s neighbors and the international community and acknowledging our forces cannot police an indefinite civil war.

My vote on July 12, 2007 on HR 2592 was part of this effort to introduce a new strategy. It must be made clear that the bill does not require a complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq, it does not affect funding, and it allows the President to determine the troop levels for this redefined mission. The bill, however, does encourage the administration to redefine our mission in Iraq, away from policing the civilian warfare, redirecting our troops to critical missions like fighting terrorist groups as al-Qaeda, training Iraqi troops, securing Iraq’s borders and providing security for our military and diplomatic missions in the Middle East. Moreover, it will serve to ensure our allies in the region that our mission is to support the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Iraq, but also enforce the notion that we are not a permanent occupier.

Immediate withdrawal is not an option – the consequences unknown, and quite possibly catastrophic. That is why I have voted against measures in the House, including HR 2237 on May 10, 2007, which would seek a complete withdrawal of US troops within 180 days of enactment and prohibit any funds from being used to continue critical missions that our troops are engaged outside the civil war. That is also why I continue other critical assistance to Iraq, including measures to increase funding for economic and reconstruction assistance programs for Iraq under the FY08 Foreign Operations bill; this was the President’s request and is consistent with the ISG recommendations, but not included in the bill under the Democrat leadership.

The troops are doing a magnificent job under difficult circumstances. They have my unequivocal support. I would never vote to cut funds for their mission, but i think it is important to support a mission which is politically, economically, and militarily sustainable. I cannot support a combat mission that fails to recognize the long-term and sustainable efforts needed in this vulnerable region.

I appreciate your taking the time to express your thoughts on the crisis in Iraq. Please remain in touch.


Wayne T. Gilchrest

Member of Congress

First of all, Wayne misspoke on the bill number he voted against on July 12, it’s HR 2956 and I’ve linked to the version passed by the House. The problem I have with that bill lies in two areas: it mandates a “reduction” of troops beginning within 4 months of passage and speaks about a “limited presence” of troops after April 1, 2008. So al-Qaeda and its Iranian allies (who we’re fighting by proxy in Iraq) would have a date certain to shoot for and ramp up their efforts to secure safe areas for them that we’re forced to abandon.

I’ve talked about having a permanent presence in Iraq like we have in Germany or Japan, not as conquerors but as a forward deployment for the region. I may concede on that if it can be proven to me that the base I think we have in Bahrain (it’s either there or Qatar) can be effective enough to do that task.

But a look at history shows that it usually takes several years to establish an effective republican government. In the case of the United States it took 11 years to go from Declaration of Independence to Constitution, meanwhile fighting the British forces trying to subdue our fledgling government for the first seven years. (It’s astute to note that we didn’t fight alone, either, we had some measure of help from France.)

Not only is maintaining Iraqi security important, but let’s not forget that the larger goal is to defeat the forces of radical Islamic fundamentalism. The strategy that led to deposing Saddam was to deny the enemy a base of operations while ridding the world of a supplier of WMD’s to those who would love to use them on us. And I’m not convinced that some of the WMD’s Saddam claimed to have aren’t sitting in a country allied with his former government, such as Syria.

In the last Democrat administration, it was thought important enough to place our troops in Bosnia to combat what was then reported to be ethnic cleansing of an Islamic population. In general, while Republicans may have argued the validity of the mission, they allowed the Commander-in-Chief to command as he saw fit. Unfortunately, over the last 4 years we’ve seen the Democrats not extend the same courtesy to a Republican president, which is shameful on their part.

Very few questioned the need to respond to the attacks on 9/11 at the time. Thus far, we’ve escaped a further terrorist attack thanks in part to the leadership of a President who said from the start that this would be a Long War. Unfortunately, our Congressman has chosen to break ranks from a party that seems to understand that victory over this foe wasn’t necessarily going to be easy, quick, or follow the normal course that wars have in the past.

I say while the strategy may have to shift here and there, the eventual aim should be nothing less than wiping out the threat we face. By voting in the manner he does, I have little confidence Wayne Gilchrest shares my view.

Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.

15 thoughts on “Another “Gilchrest on the Long War” moment”

  1. Michael,

    What I see now from Gilchrest is a politician trying to justify his votes against the war on terror in the same manner as the democrats. I agree that we need to be in Iraq. We knew it would be a long war. As a matter of fact, it can never end as long as there are significant numbers of Islamic Radicals who seek our destruction. In my opinin we should be spending less time criticizing our military and more time fighting the war. Politicians are tying the hands of our troops like the did in Viet Nam, in an attempt to appease the liberals at home and abroad. Gilchrest being one.

  2. And whats up with that Daily Kos thing that everyone pronounces as “Daily COS” doesn’t anyone else see that the “Kos” is supposed to be pronounced “Chaos”?

  3. Why do we put up with these RINOs? We need confident leaders that can stand up to the massive Radical Islamic threat in the world today. Too bad there are not many in Maryland.

  4. Continuing a futile war in Iraq that is stirring up hatred for the U.S. in the Middle East and creating a new band of dedicated Islamic militants sure seems like a funny way of defeating Islamic fundamentalism. Just as the Afghani war against the USSR created a group of men dedicated to radical Islam (and gave them valuable military experience) like Osama bin Laden, we’ll look back in twenty years that the Iraq War created a similar situation. The war was a mistake from the beginning and continuing to pursue it only compounds that mistake.

    And wiping out the threat we face cannot happen militarily. As we are seeing with Iraq, it is likely any military adventure we undertake will simply increase the number of people willing to fight us. This is mainly because one of the reasons they hate us is because of our foreign policy towards the Middle East. They don’t hate us because of our freedom; they hate us because of our foreign policy. We have to weigh the benefits of our Middle East policy against what it costs us. Simply throwing more troops at the problem won’t solve anything.

  5. I received an identical letter from the Q, one of 3 that I have received in the last 2 months or so.
    It appears he is using the government dime to do some direct-mail damage control, and trying to shore up his position as we move into fall. I would expect more “letters” in the near future on various subjects near to the heart of conservatives.
    He can write all he wants.. it matters not to me, because I’m ignoring the talk– I’m looking at what he has DONE.
    That’s all that really counts.
    The whole of Congress seems to be trying to blame their dismal approval ratings on “Bush/ The War”.
    That’s only a small part of it.
    3-day workweeks renaming post offices and cranking out worthless “sense of the Congress” resolutions is much more of it.
    But the main thing is a wholesale sellout to the liberal agenda, and the lack of integrity on both sides of the aisle.
    Excuses won’t cover that. We need some new faces.

  6. We just need politicians to do what they say they will do before special interests get in their pockets. Thus the need for term limits. Strom Thurmond and Ted Kennedy are prime examples.

  7. Marc-

    I appreciate your points and I agree with you on one of them–military might can not be the only solution to this problem.

    But our foreign policy isn’t the only thing that is driving these Radicals. The Radical Islamic movement is being driven by a sense of superiority in some Muslims.

    This superiority always existed in Saudi culture. However, after the rise of OPEC, the Saudis had the money to fund radical causes throughout the Islamic world (think of the Brotherhood that seized Egypt, a very moderate country up until the 1970s).

    Much of the change that is needed is going to have to come from moderate Muslims. Non-Muslims can only do so much.

    But there are some things that we can do:

    1.) Radically cut back on the need for foreign oil. Finding alternatives for foreign oil, both through domestic sources and altnernative engery sources, can take years… we might as well start now.

    2.) Take a 2nd look at our relationship with Saudi Arabia. In a lot of ways, the United States made a deal with the devil after WW II when we form a partnership with Saudi Arabia.

    3.) Focus on the abuses of women and minorities. It amazes me that so many liberals turn their eyes away from what is happening to women and gays in these Islamic countries.

    4.) Fund moderate Muslims. We need to get moderates out there talking in these countries. Perhaps a return to a “Radio Free Europe” way of communicating. Muslims growing up in these countries need to hear an alternative to the crap they are hearing from their governments.

  8. It’s an interesting perspective Mark…and one I have put forth by many individuals. But what balance do we strike in our MidEast policy? Our biggest ally has been and always will be Israel, yet these extremists believe that Israel should be wiped out. Also, they hate us because of their extremist religious views. Many argue that is not true, but I’m not saying it is mainstream philosophy, just what hardline extremists interpret. Similar to how most Christians do not agree with Westboro Baptist, but they believe in their hardline interpretations.

  9. PS– the words were hardly out of my mouth earlier when yet ANOTHER letter from Wayne arrives today..
    This one about the Farm Bill just passed by the House.
    In it, Wayne brags about increased spending, especially for environmental stuff, and this gem:

    “ of the primary objectives of this legislation is to provide more nutritious and fresh food to our school children and the elderly. The new Farm Bill SIGNIFICANTLY increases federal support for farm-to-cafeteria programs, senior nutrition, and FOOD STAMPS and makes these programs AVAILABLE TO MORE AMERICANS WHO NEED THEM…” (emphasis mine)

    Does that sound like a conservative speaking? Excited about expanding entitlements?


  10. James, there will always be problems created by radical Muslims, but if it weren’t for our foreign policy, we wouldn’t be a target for them. However, I think pursuing a policy like you suggest would be a lot better than creating more hatred for the US via our military methods.

    Shoreman, I’m not sure what balance we should strike in our foreign policy. But we need to understand that our current foreign policy is creating a lot of hatred for us. Sure, there may always be some radical Muslims who hate us no matter what we do. But our support for whatever Israel wants along with our military intervention in the reason loses us a lot of credibility with moderate Muslims. Is our uncritical support of Israel worth the price? Is our desire to prop up Saudi Arabia worth the price? I don’t think so, but I could be wrong. What I am pretty sure about is that we would be better off having this type of discussion rather than spewing platitudes that “they hate us because we’re free” or “if we don’t fight them there we’ll fight them here.” If we think in those simplistic and inaccurate terms we’re doomed to decades of strife in the Middle East and terrorism at home.

  11. Marc,

    Perhaps I’m being naive but what policy was it exactly that we were following which led to the bombing of the world trade center…..the first time or the last time? And what policy is it that we were following that led to Americans being taken hostage in Iran on November 4, 1979 and bombing of our military barracks in Beirut on Oct. 23. 1983? Are you speaking of a policy that we’ve adopted recently or are you saying that it is a policy that we’ve adopted more than 50 years ago and spanning many administrations, when we recognized Isreal as a nation. Or is it possible that we are primarily a nation of Christians – a “policy” which has been in place in our nation for more than 230 years and a large part of the world for more than 2000 years. Marc, are you saying that we are to blame for the terrorist attacks against our nation and our citizens? That’s what it sounds like to me.

  12. Grand Dad, I’d say you need to adjust your reading glasses because you’re not doing a very good job understanding what I’m writing. Of course we aren’t to blame for the terrorist attacks. The people who perpetrated them are to blame. However, we have to understand what motivates these people to hate us. Simply chalking it up to us “being a nation of Christians” makes no sense whatsoever.

    What policy were we following that led to our hostage situation in Iran? Well, I think it’s pretty clear that our support of the Shah explains that. The bombing in Beiruit was motivated by the hatred some in Beirut had because we were meddling in their affairs. These folks don’t like our foreign policy. They don’t like our support of Israel. They don’t like our support of autocratic Middle Eastern rulers. This incites them to wage terrorism against us.

    If people like you fail to understand that, it merely means we’ll continue to see our nation under terrorist attack. Again, I’m not saying we should necessarily change our foreign policy in order to appease these folks. I do think, however, that we need to evaluate our foreign policy and understand both the benefits and the costs that come with continuing to pursue it. As even the great Ronald Reagan found out in Beirut, sometimes the cost just isn’t worth it.

  13. Marc, My reading glasses work just fine. I’m not the kind of person who either sugar coats things or tends to change the way the majority does things in order to appease the minority. It just seemed that you were going in the direction of the “women wouldn’t get raped if they didn’t wear such provocative clothing” mindset. Unfortunately there are many people who would blame the women for the actions of the rapist. There are many who do blame the U.S. for attacks against us and for a moment I thought you were one. I apologize for the misunderstanding. Our nation has been in the business of “supporting” one group of people or another for years. If someone doesn’t like our support of Israel…tough sh*t. What r we supposed to do? should we abandon them and let these radical muslim nations tear them apart? I don’t think so! Unless we abandon that policy of supporting Israel we will be considered enemies of islam. The fact that we are a nation of Christians makes a great deal of sense in that it gives them the justification they need to recruit new terrorists willing to die as martyrs in the fight against the “infidels”. Christians are the infidels in thier eyes. The policy of “fight them there or fight them here” is completely accurate. The fact is that huge amounts of intel has been obtained by our people in Iraq which has thwarted many attacks here at home and our interests elsewhere in the world. This has been relayed to me by a friend who was stationed at the pentagon to decipher intel as it was obtained. He is a good man and I have no reason to believe he would lie. Why would anyone in the world back down to terrorists. To back down shows weakness and emboldens them to increase terrorist activities in order to get everyone to back down even more. Soon, our backs would be against the wall and we wouldn’t be able to help ourselves. And “People like me” don’t fail to understand, we refuse to give in to terrorists.

  14. Wow, me thinks Granddad needs a history lesson. Oh and hey Granddad, stop getting all your info from Fox and conservative talk radio. Theres a whole world of sources out there. I’d be happy to help you out.

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