Here we go again. Every time the going gets tough in overseas military operations, Democratic leaders, including Senator Leahy, get nervous, cave to their political base, and publicly communicate doom and gloom conclusions that have risk of causing a self-fulfilling prophecies. Can you imagine the demoralizing effects on our troops and the invigorating effects on the enemy if every WWII setback was accompanied by such public doubt and consideration of giving up by Senate leaders.
According to the BFP (July 27, 2010), “Leahy…said… ‘I’m having more and more questions about our policy in Afghanistan’. … Asked whether or not the U.S. should withdraw its troops, Leahy said, ‘I don’t know…’.” It appears that just when President Obama’s surge policy requires steady hands in Congress (i.e., leaders), Leahy is considering pulling the rug. Constructive critique is good but it would be more helpful for the troops and the Commander-in Chief if Leahy spent more time and effort helping them accomplish their mission rather than predetermining failure.
There is a déjà vous. Remember Leahy’s doubts about the U.S. military’s ability to succeed during the similar Iraq surge? On April 7, 2008, Leahy said, "The reality in Iraq is that…the surge has failed to achieve its central goal…Every day more American servicemen and women are killed or grievously wounded, with no end in sight….” Leahy further urged “A deadline for…swift redeployment of American forces...” (http://www.welch.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=282).
The reality is that due to the fortitude of U.S. troops in the Iraq surge, Iraqi military and government capabilities evolved, some semblance of stability developed, and U.S. troop levels are drawing down to 50,000 by this fall with a partially good outcome from a bad situation (a semi-democratic government with improving self-sufficiency). Had the U.S. heeded Leahy’s conclusions, we would not have gained the military upper hand that led to the stabilization and dramatically reduced U.S. military casualties.
Senator Leahy is clearly bowing to his political base during a contentious primary election but his message is inappropriate and dangerous. We are in the midst of the surge in troop levels ordered by President Obama in Afghanistan. Closer to home, we are also in the midst of the largest deployment of Vermont National Guard troops since WWII. Senator Leahy should support the troops by showing leadership, resolve, and confidence they will accomplish their mission even during dark days.
This is why we need a change in leadership in the Senate. Please share this letter with other Veterans and and don’t forget to vote in the primary on August 24, 2010.
Daniel Freilich, Captain, MCR, USNR