This is an archive of the old Stones Cry Out site. For the current site, click here.

« Letter from the Front | Main | Putting the War on Terror In Perspective »

December 14, 2005

Another Letter from the Front

Marine Major Ben Connable, writing in the Washington Post, is, along with most of the military, optimistic about how the war will turn out.

How is it, then, that 64 percent of U.S. military officers think we will succeed if we are allowed to continue our work? Why is there such a dramatic divergence between American public opinion and the upbeat assessment of the men and women doing the fighting?

Open optimism, whether or not it is warranted, is a necessary trait in senior officers and officials. Skeptics can be excused for discounting glowing reports on Iraq from the upper echelons of power. But it is not a simple thing to ignore genuine optimism from mid-grade, junior and noncommissioned officers who have spent much of the past three years in Iraq.

Maj. Connable goes on to talk about the first-hand knowledge that he and his comrades in Iraq have that the "armchair academics" and the "talking heads" don't have that give them that optimism. He understands why Mr. and Mrs. America might have a view of Iraq as a quagmire; the news reports.

Most of the violent news is true; the death and destruction are very real. But experienced military officers know that the horror stories, however dramatic, do not represent the broader conditions there or the chances for future success. For every vividly portrayed suicide bombing, there are hundreds of thousands of people living quiet, if often uncertain, lives. For every depressing story of unrest and instability there is an untold story of potential and hope. The impression of Iraq as an unfathomable quagmire is false and dangerously misleading.

(That liberal media.) He has harsh words for those who insist on continuing to put forth this dismal outlook (and you know who you are >grin<).
It is this false impression that has led us to a moment of national truth. The proponents of the quagmire vision argue that the very presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is the cause of the insurgency and that our withdrawal would give the Iraqis their only true chance for stability. Most military officers and NCOs with ground experience in Iraq know that this vision is patently false. Although the presence of U.S. forces certainly inflames sentiment and provides the insurgents with targets, the anti-coalition insurgency is mostly a symptom of the underlying conditions in Iraq. It may seem paradoxical, but only our presence can buffer the violence enough to allow for eventual stability.

It's worth reading the whole thing. At the end, Maj. Connable notes that even those in the military who believe the war's outlook to be bleak still work towards victory.
Everyone in uniform does not share this sentiment. Thirty-six percent of military officers are less confident in the mission. But these officers will continue to work as hard as the rest of us toward success because they, too, are professionals. With men and women such as this, the United States has an excellent chance of success in Iraq.

Defeat-ocrats, take note.

Posted by Doug at December 14, 2005 03:58 PM

Trackback Pings


"Why is there such a dramatic divergence between American public opinion and the upbeat assessment of the men and women doing the fighting?"

A couple possibilities come to mind.

p1. Some of us are still hearing Viet Nam combat veterans insist that we were winning when they were rotated home. Even the ones who were still there after Saigon fell.

p2. Letters from active duty personnel, intended for publication in American newspapers (and other media), are censored for content.

What exactly is the real, unfiltered, uncensored view of soldiers on the ground in Iraq? And why should we be more impressed by dubious displays of their high morale than we should be impressed by measurable, quantifiable progress against published and achievable goals and objectives?

Posted by: s9 at December 14, 2005 06:28 PM


and just like in vietnam. if one is going to be a professional soldier, then one needs the slot time in a combat billet, even if that means rotating on 6 month assignments....

so what if there are problems with the commander in chief trying to work out whether or not he has a plan, and the troops who are trying to say that they have a plan....

could this disjoint be disconcerting to the folks still in the rear with the beer? or are they just having the desperate need to feel all warm and fuzzy about being some two years on from the 'mission accomplished' dance - with no clue how they are going to stop the shi'ite extremists....

Posted by: drieux at December 14, 2005 09:08 PM

"Why is there such a dramatic divergence between American public opinion and the upbeat assessment of the men and women doing the fighting?"

So far I concur with all the responses here. I just have one other response: even though I want there to be a good solid outcome in Iraq, I am not particularly found of having to do war with people who hate me or my worldview. It is possible that some people that are Anti-War don't like war for war's sake, but also don't want evil demonstrated as Saddam Hussein did in Iraq. For me, there is ambivalence about saying "keep up the good fight" to our soldiers while at the same time hoping the fighting will end. I just don't like all the killing on both sides.

My Catholic upbringing tells me that war is the last answer to any opposition to a free world. But at the same time, how could anyone expect to go up to Saddam Hussein and negotiate that he stop killing Kurds and stop supplying money to suicide bombers in other countries? How do you exactly negotiate with terrorists?

Posted by: Sue at December 15, 2005 02:26 PM