The Bush administration, congressional Republicans, and a faction of Democrats are very angry at Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) for his proposal on Iraq. What is that proposal, you ask? That's a good question, because most major stories that purport to be about the proposal are actually horse-race-style stories about the political maneuvering around the proposal. The Washington Post's crack coverage did this today, actually burying any concrete details of the proposal in the 14th paragraph of its story. Here's how the paper described Murtha's supposedly radical and controversial idea:
"To be sent to battle, troops would have to have had a year's rest between combat tours. Soldiers in Iraq could not have their tours extended beyond a year there. And the Pentagon's 'stop-loss' policy, which prevents some officers from leaving the military when their service obligations are up, would end. Troops would have to be trained in counterinsurgency and urban warfare and be sent overseas with the equipment they used in training."
The reaction from some Democrats was swift and Fox News-ish. Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT), of pro-bankruptcy bill and pro-CAFTA voting fame, fumed that Murtha's proposal "is a non-starter, an absolute non-starter" because he claimed - without any proof - that it "holds back resources from our troops." Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) breathlessly declared that Murtha "stepped all over [the] message of support for the troops." And Freshman Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), who's major campaign issue was opposition to the Iraq War, said he is "a bit wary" of the proposal.
To understand the position these people are now on record as supporting by logical default through their opposition to Murtha's proposal, let's go straight back to the Washington Post's buried paragraph and flip it. These lawmakers are saying:
"To be sent to battle, troops should NOT have to have had a year's rest between combat tours. Soldiers in Iraq COULD have their tours extended beyond a year there. And the Pentagon's "stop-loss" policy, which prevents some officers from leaving the military when their service obligations are up, should be CONTINUED INDEFINITELY. Troops should NOT have to be trained in counterinsurgency and urban warfare and CAN be sent overseas WITHOUT the equipment they used in training."
Now look, I understand I don't live in Washington, D.C. and that all the rules of normal society are put aside there. The Beltway is a place where pundits and politicians actually believe the definition of "toughness" is sitting in comfortable, well-guarded wood-paneled office signing papers or authoring treatises demanding more American soldiers be sent off to be killed or maimed in a war based on lies.
Still, even though I'm not drinking the reality-destroying Kool-Aide of the nation's capital, I cannot understand how these people are positioning themselves as "pro-troops" when they are now going on record saying troops should not have to have any rest between deployments, troops tours could be extended indefinitely and even past the obligations they signed onto; and that troops can be sent into combat without any basic training or equipment to deal with the kind of combat they will face. That's not conservative. That's not "smart" or "shrewd" politics required to represent a red state or red district (remember, for instance, that Jim Matheson is from Salt Lake City, where Rocky Anderson has been one of the most outspoken anti-war voices in the nation, as well as a popular mayor). That's taking a decidedly anti-troops position that says American soldiers are expendable - pawns in a giant game of chess that pro-war politicians think is all fun and games.
It's one thing to have a debate about whether the President's escalation is good or bad strategy - at least the tiny minority of people who think it's a good idea have tried to make substance-based arguments, despite how ridiculous those arguments may be. But it's a whole new level of nauseating behavior to oppose Murtha's proposal, because the opponents have ceased to make any fact-based arguments whatsoever. That leaves us to rationally conclude that the opponents are dead-set on continuing this war, no matter how many American troops or Iraqi civilians are killed and no matter how much damage is done to U.S. national security. These people are the dictionary definition of extremists - people willing to drive this country into the ground because they are too pigheaded to admit a mistake, too pathetically weak-kneed to do what's right, too drunk off the perks of majority power to risk anything, or too blinded by D.C.'s bipartisan neoconservative machine to see how despicably they are treating our troops.