By Alan Nathan © 2007 FrontPageMag
This warning to the Washington Post is the journalistic equivalent to, “Your fly is open.” In other words, you missed a few things while rushing. No excuse is mitigating enough to forgive the Lilliputian thinking that approved William Odom’s piece for publication in their February 11 edition.
He was a director of the National Security Agency under President Reagan, and also served as a National Security Council staff member for President Carter. Given top prominence in their Outlook Commentary section was Odom’s column, “Victory is Not an Option: The Mission Can’t Be Accomplished – It’s Time for a New Strategy.”
The stunning mediocrity of his argument initially surfaces in the title itself. If victory is not an option and the mission cannot be accomplished, then surely the need for a strategy becomes obsolete! Surrender rarely requires much of a plan.
To be fair, however, he argues that this new strategy should call for turning away from Iraq and choosing to refortify other more diplomatic prospects to better stabilize the Middle East. However, he’s the only fellow vet I’ve seen make that contention without at least feigning to explain how such a surrender would not weaken our diplomatic leverage in the future.
In his zeal to propitiate the otherwise condemning rhetoric of those nations having a vested interest in our failure (some of them allies), Odom forgets that your negotiating hand is only as strong as your last triumph.
Better to be called a bully setting terms after victory, than a statesman accepting them after defeat.
But Odom’s sense of human nature is laughingly counterintuitive:
Realigning our diplomacy and military capabilities to achieve order will hugely reduce the numbers of our enemies and gain us new and important allies.
Apparently our inability to win the war on drugs is taking more of a toll on some than others. He continues:
This cannot happen, however, until our forces are moving out of Iraq. Why should Iran negotiate to relieve our pain as long as we are increasing its influence in Iraq and beyond?
If our being in Iraq effectively plays into the hands of Iran, then why are they so feverishly working against their own interests by sending to Baghdad Republican Guard fighters, intelligence operatives, armor-piercing explosives and other weapons so as to drive us back home. What’s that called anyway, geopolitical schizophrenia? What’s next, a country with geo-political penis envy? No wait, that’s France.
Finally ending this otherwise contiguous excerpt, Odom argues:
Withdrawal will awaken most leaders in the region to their own need for U.S.-led diplomacy to stabilize their neighborhood.
Diplomacy is only as effective as the relevant countries’ ability to enforce the terms that might be reached. Given that our departure from Iraq would prove that we’re unable to lead even ourselves to a consensus of enforcement, what other nation would rationally want to be led by us?
Missing WMD aside, the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq included 22 other Whereas justifications calling upon President Bush to bring about Saddam Hussein’s compliance with the terms of surrender as set forth at Safwan Airbase in March 1991. These terms of surrender, and the subsequent UN Resolutions that followed, where the ones upon which the First Gulf War ceasefire was contingent.
Saddam automatically triggered the legal resumption of our military action when he vacated the ceasefire by violating that contingency – a contingency to which the UN Security Council was a party. It’s unfortunate that our procrastination allowed their buyers’ remorse to feed the war opponents’ fantasy of Iraq being an illegal exercise.
(The uninformed masses have always been the left’s strongest ally, the right’s greatest dilemma and the centrist’s biggest mission.)
Unfortunately, Odom cites as validation for his argument the National Intelligence Estimate’s projections for failure despite that same group’s 2002 cataclysmically flawed prediction of WMD in Iraq. If they were so spectacularly wrong then, how do they become so magnificently right now?
The confused Mr. Odom has another abridged foresight that is sadly finding resonance. Like so many, he’s unable to see the difference between folks who once backed the war but hate the way it has been conducted, and those who were always against it regardless of the results. Sadly, these groups have been fused together in polls because of their shared displeasure despite their dissimilar origins.
Those in the first category are more likely to again back the effort once a plan is shown to have efficacy. The latter shall remain unchanged because victory endangers the viability of their philosophical mindset against war as a remedy for neutralizing enemies.
This lost distinction is not merely a mistake; it’s journalistic negligence at best, malice at worst.
An excellent illustration of this will be evident in the public’s reaction to fanatical Shi’ite Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s rapid escape to Iran. Seems he’s not pleased with Bush’s pending troop surge and crackdown at the borders with Syria and Iran.