CommunityPam's House Blend

Rep. Murtha – Doubted Bush war then, opposes Bush war now

Ooh, what fun! Shouting and yelling and namecalling and disagreement over the war in Iraq. Sure, it would’ve been nice to see some heated debate before we went and got 2,096 soldiers killed (a rate over 3 per day over the past fifty days), but any dialogue we can get from our Congress over this war is better than the pussyfooted ambivalence they displayed in February 2003.

Rep. Murtha, a hawkish Dem from Pennsylvania, got the ball rolling by calling for the immediate withdrawal of our troops. Another rep, a Republican woman whose name I never caught, chided Murtha and called him a coward (despite the fact he volunteered for both Korea and Vietnam, whereas her military service could be described as “Cheney-like”). Now the Republicans are playing the “But you guys voted to let George go to war! You saw all of the intelligence we did! We were wrong, but you were just as wrong! I know you are, but what am I?” blame-game.

Problem is, Murtha had his doubts about the war from the git-go. Rude Pundit digs up this USA Today article from September 24, 2002…

WASHINGTON — In 1991, John Murtha helped lead the charge on Capitol Hill for war with Iraq. This year, the Pennsylvania congressman is among the doubters.

Today [2002], the powerful backroom dealmaker finds himself in an even more politically lonely position: questioning a war-powers resolution that even most Democratic leaders seem reluctant to oppose. “All of us want to get rid of Saddam,” Murtha says. But he believes that the younger Bush “went about it the wrong way.”

Bush’s father “had his coalition built before he came to Congress,” Murtha says. As a result, most of the first Persian Gulf War’s cost was shared by U.S. allies. Those nations shouldered more than $53 billion of the $61 billion war burden, according to the White House budget office.

This time, “it will all be expended by the United States,” says Murtha, the top-ranking Democrat on the House panel that funds the Pentagon. He says another war with Iraq will cost at least $50 billion. Other estimates say the price could rise as high as $200 billion. [Hmm, mighty prescient, that John Murtha…]

Murtha says a key reason for questioning a second Iraq war is strategic. He’s worried that it will cost the United States not only money and lives, but also important allies. By moving without international support, Bush could alienate Arab allies, and “we could lose access to the intelligence we need to fight the war on terrorism,” he says. [Make that ‘double prescient’]

Nothing he has seen in intelligence reports has convinced him that Bush needs to rush through a resolution, Murtha says. Even so, he has not yet decided how he will vote. [Murtha ended up voting for the war resolution]

The casualties could be much higher this time, particularly if there is “street-by-street” fighting in Baghdad, Murtha says. But he has no doubts about who will win: “We do have adequate military force to pull this off.” [Make that ‘triple prescient’, except for not forseeing that Bush wouldn’t send in that ‘adequate military force’]

Murtha, as a veteran, was aware of how difficult the war would be and appeared to be very reluctant to send our soldiers into harm’s way on such a flimsy case. The most telling paragraph in the article to me is Murtha’s backhanded condemnation of the Chickenhawks in his midst:

However, as a veteran of wars both legislative and literal, Murtha is puzzled by all the bellicose talk in Washington. Fewer than one-third of members of Congress are veterans; the percentage was more than double that when Murtha arrived on Capitol Hill 30 years ago. He thinks that makes a difference. “I have found that the guys who haven’t been there are more likely to vote to go to war,” he says.

Indeed they are. Especially the ones who went AWOL from the Alabama Air Guard and the ones who got five deferments from Vietnam because of “other priorities”. War is a ton of fun… if you can find a way to profit from it and get other people to fight it.

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