I MEF Commander Speaks; My Response Solicited

MILITARY: Departing Marine general cites Anbar improvement
North County Times
By MARK WALKER – Staff Writer | Monday, February 9, 2009

And given. North County Times is in Escondido, California-Camp Pendleton territory. I’m fairly content with my representation in this article. I made points that the author left out, but he had 5,000 words of information to stuff into a 500-word article and had to make some cuts. I understand that.

Nor would I expect the author to give me space equal to the general in making my point. In the eyes of the media, a major general has more authority to speak than any former sergeant, and for good reason. If we (humans) couldn’t establish and maintain some hierarchy of credibility, we’d be forever lost in a morass of uninformed arguments and would be unable to make important decisions.

However, if my quote doesn’t seem to directly address General Kelly’s statement, it’s because the author didn’t print the part that I was refuting. When he called me last night he read aloud the general’s entire statement-only a few highlights of which made it into the article. Gen. Kelly actually used the word “victory” (at least that’s what I heard over the phone while walking down a busy hallway) elsewhere. He also charged that “we [I MEF] walked the most dangerous streets in the world hunting the most murderous men on earth, and they [the war’s detractors] slept safely at home in their beds.”

What some of us understand from the safety of our beds is that General Kelly’s is a circular argument: To describe the recent calming in Anbar as a “victory” is to say that the reason we invaded Iraq is to reduce the violence we caused in Iraq. I wasn’t going to let the commander of First Marine Expeditionary Force get by with that one.

Any calming or, for that matter, rebuilding in Iraq in absence of concrete strategic goals (“freedom” and “democracy” don’t make that cut) is merely a half-assed cleaning up of the mess we created; Hiding behind some medieval code of honor won’t change that. America’s way forward is to cope with reality and develop a comprehensive grand strategy that includes holding our integrity and learning from our failures.

[NOTE: This is not the first time Maj. Gen. Kelly has used the language of decisive victory since the surge began. He must not have received his commander’s memo.]

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