Viewpoint: Armybryan Answers the "14 Points"  

Friday, December 23, 2005

Some months ago, I made the acquaintance of one of our soldiers serving on the ground in Iraq by way of RightWingNews, a blog hosted by blogger extraordinaire John Hawkins. "Armybryan" was involved in a heated debate with a particular loser liberal over the situation in Iraq. It seemed to me kind of silly to be arguing with someone about things he sees every day, so I entered the debate (on Bryan's side, of course).

Bryan has become a regular reader and commentor here at the RWRepublic, and his comments have always been insightful and well-reasoned. He has earned the respect of all of the Americans for whom he fights, and the admiration of those who openly appreciate his efforts. In late August, I asked Bryan if he would do an interview for this blog.

Graciously, he enthusiastically accepted. This caused a problem for me - what the bloody hell to ASK! I asked around a bit, trying to get a feel for what those who come around here would want to ask, but I just didn't get a whole lot of feedback. I got a little help around Thanksgiving.

Michael Smerconish, a Philadelphia talk radio host, put together a mock debate on Iraq, asking several prominent people to comment on fourteen of his personal opinions regarding Iraq. It was really cool. He simply played each of their recorded answers one right after the other. He then asked listeners to log on to his website and choose which of those interviewed they most agreed with (it came as no surprise to me that I matched up most with Senator Santorum).

As I was listening to the "debate", I wondered what Bryan would say if asked to comment on these positions. Perhaps these fourteen points would make a good catalyst for the aforementioned interview. I sent them to Bryan via email. These are his responses (in bold), unedited. Remember, any references to "here" refer to IRAQ.

Do you agree or disagree; are you willing to admit or deny these statements?

1. 9/11 was the work of radical Islam.

Without a doubt, 9/11 was the work of radical Islam. The problem lies in the refusal of many on the left, and some on the right, to recognize that what we call "radical Islam" has become much more mainstream, due to the fundamentalist schools founded by the House of Saud, the ruling family in Saudi Arabia, and the establishment of Madrassas throughout the Middle East and Muslim world. I would argue that it used to be radicalism, but over time it has gained more acceptance with a wide portion of the worshippers of Allah.

2. Post-9/11 there was a consensus in the country to be forward-leaning, meaning to be pre-emptive if necessary to protect against further attack.

I can't speak to the sentiment around the entire country, but those I knew, and those I spoke with were almost unanimous in their support for pre-emption, if the other option is waiting to be struck again in the US. Personally, I have always supported a more proactive approach to foreign threats. This is one of the reasons that I have been in the Army, not once, but twice, both during troubles with Iraq. Desert Storm was my first experience with Middle Eastern "culture" and I found that while many centuries ago, the Islamic world had much to offer to the rest of the world, since the 7th century they have essentially stagnated, if not regressed to total barbarism. This time isn't much better, except that those who were unfortunate enough to be born in this part of the world, but have managed to resist the brainwashing, have finally been given a voice in the running of their country.

3. Iraq played no role in the events of September 11.

I don't think that Iraq directed Al-Qi'ada to conduct the 9/11 attacks. However, there is incontrovertible evidence that Iraq has had dealings with and was supportive of Al-Qi'ada's attacks on the west and the US specifically.

4. Iraq was nevertheless perceived by American and foreign military and intelligence operations to pose a threat, based principally upon the belief that Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs.

I agree that even if there was no connection between Iraq and Al-Qi'ada, we were correct in removing Saddam from power because of the threat he posed to regional stability and a longer term threat to the US interests because of his pursuit of long range missile systems with WMD payloads

5. Saddam Hussein's perceived possession of WMDs was the primary reason advanced by the Bush administration in support of the invasion of Iraq.

Saddam Hussein's regime had WMD. However, that was only one of many reasons that we were given by the Administration for the pre-emptive invasion of Iraq. There are also, what, 14 UN resolutions, violations of the cease-fire agreement that ended the 1991 Persian Gulf war, the repeated attempts to deceive WMD inspectors, and when those did not work, outright threats. All of that, plus the not inconsiderable fact that Hussein was trying to have one of our former presidents killed. The reason WMD got so much air time and reporting is that they are very dangerous and we have to take even their potential use as a grave threat to the security of the U.S.

6. It is now apparent that Saddam had no WMDs, meaning the Administration's predicate for going to war was faulty.

It is not apparent that Saddam had no WMD; what is apparent is that while we wasted time trying to bargain with the criminals in the UN, Saddam had time to move WMD out of Iraq, and either dump or bury others in desolate parts of the country.

7. There can't be any disagreement about this. With or without WMDs, Saddam Hussein is nevertheless an SOB.


8. The fact that the Administration was wrong about WMDs does not mean that the President lied on that subject.

There is a fundamental difference between lying and being mistaken. There is still some disagreement over whether or not there were WMD in Iraq, so there is no definitive proof that the Administration was wrong or lying. Secondly, being an intel person myself, I know how difficult it is to be 100% correct on every call, no matter how important it is. No one is perfect, even though the Monday morning quarterbacks in Washington would have people think otherwise.

9. I know we've got controversy on this one, the war in Iraq is going poorly.

There is not much controversy over that, unless you are one of those who has so much invested in the US doing poorly that you cannot admit the truth. Many of those are in DC, and usually have a (D) after their names. In fact, if it weren't for all of the naysayers in DC who want us to fail so much that they will get on television and lie to the entire world, we would be doing even better. But, we have too many "legislators" who are more concerned with increasing their own visibility and standing in the power structure than they are with the fact that their statements are seditious and treasonous. Those of us here on the ground in Iraq know that the war is going well, and reconstruction is going well, despite the slow start. By the way, those of us on the ground does not include the reporters who go to the Green Zone, hunt someone up who is unhappy, while ignoring the large majority of those who are very much happier than they were only a few short years ago.

10. It's entirely possible that when all is said and done, we will have facilitated the replacement of Saddam Hussein with a leadership regime in Iraq that is beholden to Iran and unfriendly to the U.S., albeit one that does not equal the evil of Saddam nor the type of threat he could have become.

It is very unlikely that something like that will happen. I spent several months in and around Basra, which is the largest Shi'a city in Iraq. It is located in the southern part of the country, is on the border, and shares religious ideology with the Iranians, in that it is Shi'a. In my time there, through personal contact, and conversations with others who were going out into the city, I found that most Iraqis in Basra are not the religious fanatics the MSM would have people believe. Are there some there that are very religiously observant? Of course there are. However, most people don't much like Iran, or the system of government in Iran. Add to that the fact that Iranians are not Arab, and there just isn't much likelihood of a theocratic government being established in Iraq.

11. I hardly expect disagreement. Leaving Iraq now, meaning immediately, would embolden insurgents and terrorists.

Absolutely. Jack Murtha is one of those I referenced earlier who is more intent on being heard than in saying anything useful. He speaks to the most base, cowardly part of the American electorate in order to secure their support, and Damn the troops on the ground. He may once have been a hero, but that is long ago, before he sold himself to the Devil in order to have a successful political career.

12. Our presence in Iraq provides a rallying point for the insurgency and the radical Islamists.

Maybe, but I say let keep coming. The more we kill or capture or injure here means the less that are available for terrorist plans elsewhere. Eventually, even those idiots must start to realize that they cannot win against a resolute foe that will not be cowed by their attacks on the defenseless. Instead, we will chase them into their hiding places and smoke them out and kill them as fast as we can. There can be no peace accord with someone whose avowed goal is the annihilation of our way of life.

13. Leaving Iraq as soon as possible must be our goal.

No, leaving a strong free Iraq must be our goal. That goal will take some time. It took us roughly 100 years to figure out a workable system of government, and resolve some of our most difficult issues, such as slavery. Hell, we are STILL working on some issues 230 years later. To expect the Iraqis to be able to do it in less than 3 years is unrealistic. We are still in most of the countries we defeated in WWII, nobody called for a withdrawal because they are quagmires. It boils down to the fact that Democrats cannot allow a Republican President to achieve such an historic victory and change the face of the world yet again.

14. Final statement, last but certainly not least, and I know we've got disagreement about this one: It's time for the administration to set a timetable to leave Iraq.

Depends on what you mean by timeline. If you mean setting and publishing specific dates for withdrawal, either partial or complete, then that is absolutely the wrong thing to do. There is a reason that governments and militaries have classification of important plans. It is to avoid letting the enemy know what we will be doing, when it is going to happen, and how it will be done That is very, very basic strategy. Deny information to the enemy and our chances for success increase dramatically. If there are those out there that are too ignorant or too stubborn to accept that reality, then that is their problem, not mine, unless those people are the ones that control the budget to allow us to fight the war. If those are the people that are demanding a timetable, then the President need to tell them what he has been telling them. We will leave when we have accomplished our goals. That should be the only sort of timetable that is set.

Thanks for having this discussion and I appreciate the support you, RWR, and others have shown me and my colleagues while we are deployed.
What I found interesting was the fact that I agreed with Bryan on all fourteen points, giving him the benefit of any doubt that may have existed in my opinion.

Bryan will be back in the States in about three weeks, and I have promised to buy him a brewski or twoski. I'll try to get more of his incredible insight then. In the meantime, I wish Bryan and his unit all the best and, of course, a Merry Christmas.