This article was not authored by myself, but is so well written, I would like to place it on this page.

December 31, 2005
Straight from the Front
A letter to war detractors

by Ltc. John M. Kanaley
Private Papers

[This letter expresses the opinions of soldiers who write us from the front and was written by a soldier currently on duty in Baghdad]

Honorable Member of Congress,

The following is addressed to those opposed to the war:

During the pursuit of national security, there are times that require the struggle for political power to be relegated to a subordinate position for the benefit of the entire country.  This war qualifies for a period of political restraint.  However, the current partisan political fighting in the nation’s capital is not contributing to the ultimate goal of victory in this current war.

This concern is not new; it has been debated for centuries.  While reviewing Roman history and analyzing Italian politics of his day, Machiavelli contemplated this exact problem.  He considered the question of what might be more detrimental to the health of the republic:  those striving for power, or those fearful of losing their current authority.  If he were alive today, he might enhance the question by recognizing those motivated to reacquire the power they once possessed.  Those pursuing the status once lost are just as injurious to the future of the nation.  Memories of 1994 and 2000 tend to override the necessity of presenting a unified front to the world in this struggle. 

As you persist with your thoughts that this war cannot be won, consider the notion of past military victories:  The First War with Iraq, the defense of South Vietnam, the landing at Inchon, Iowa Jima, the Second Battle of the Marne, Gettysburg, New Orleans, and Yorktown.  What made these battles significant for American forces was not only the skillful tactics of the troops, it also consisted of the support of a political entity whose primary goal was to win, not to participate in petty, partisan politics.  Nobody questioned President Franklin Roosevelt’s strategy by saying we needed to pull out of World War II because he did not foresee the intensity of the Japanese on the South-Pacific islands.  There was no doubt about fighting the Germans, even though they did not attack the U.S.  Absent were the calls that President Woodrow Wilson engage in self-defeating reflection by apologizing for the brutality of trench-warfare.  General George Washington held firm over a period of seven years in his overall strategy, despite early defeats.  Yet, they all believed in what was right and their persistence proved successful.  The fight for freedom is a relatively recent phenomenon, therefore, it is not widely accepted and it is a difficult process.

The American soldiers are not concerned about arguments that Saddam Hussein’s  payments to terrorists did not contribute to September 11th.  They do not want to hear that Hussein’s acquiescence to the presence of the barbarian Zarqawi in Iraq in 2001 was not a threat to our country.  They are not going to analyze whether Hussein’s “secular government” would ever conspire with religious fanatics to attack the U.S.  More importantly, they do not consider the war in Iraq as a “distraction” from the efforts in Afghanistan.  Yet, this is the anti-war mantra heard ever since the Islamo-fascists had the temerity to attack American troops.  These are the same people who crashed jetliners into innocent Americans and you want to withdraw because they shoot back.  What did you expect?  This is war.  Unfortunately, we were going to experience losses.  Each loss is tragic, but each loss represents the yearning not to allow another innocent American to be attacked on U.S. soil ever again.  Their lives were not lost in vain.  

Never has a nation invaded another for the purpose of improving the style of government in the occupied land, while simultaneously respecting the lives and resources of the people.  Naturally, there is a self-serving national security concern that is the overriding issue; however, the American military truly believes that it is also improving the lives of the Iraqi people.  After three successful elections never before witnessed in this part of the world, American service-members have much to be proud of.

However, you portray the war as an imperialistic adventure along the lines of Napoleon.  As Camillus saved Rome, you play the role of a present day Manlius.  Envious of success, along with a desire to contradict the President at every opportunity, you conduct yourselves in ways that reflect your self-centered, degraded pursuit of power.  How shallow it must be to sacrifice the honor of the American military and all of its accomplishments in Iraq at the altar of the 2006 and 2008 elections.

You constantly refer to the “failure” and “defeat” of Vietnam to justify your criticism of the current war.  It is an unusual thought that you revel in the so-called defeat in Vietnam and optimistically predict the same self-induced conclusion in Iraq.  To paraphrase John S. Mill:  War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things.  The degraded state of patriotic feeling, which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse.  A man who cares about nothing more than himself is a selfish figure who has no chance at being free, unless provided by others better than himself.

When you criticize the President and the war effort, you are criticizing every service-member in this war.  Please do not patronize the public with the often heard, “I support the troops, but I don’t support the war.”  You cannot support the troops without supporting the war because their mission in life right now is to win the war, provide security for our country, and return home safely with honor.  

However, you make that realization more difficult each passing day.  Your talk of “there aren’t enough troops”, “the President lied”, or, “we need a strategic withdrawal” is tiring and self-defeating, as well as contradictory.  If you have legitimate concerns about achieving success in the war, perhaps you should discuss them with the President behind closed doors.  Military exercises and combat operations require an analysis for lessons learned.  Constructive criticism is expected and beneficial, but never is it acceptable when it is situated on the world stage for political purposes as it places the overall mission in danger.

Remember, three successful elections within one year with turnout rates that would make all democracies envious.  Despite your efforts to the contrary, the American spirit will allow us to win.  We will win the war.  We will win militarily.  We will win politically.  The Iraqis will win their freedom.  Our country is more secure, the Middle-East is more peaceful, and the world is more stable.  Regardless of your attempts to undermine the historic mission in Iraq, the American people have much to be proud of in their military and in the accomplishments to spread freedom to the darkest corners of the world.


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