Democrat Rep. Brian Baird is one of the most liberal members of Congress. Last week, he made headlines and angered moonbats after returning from Iraq and concluding that precipitous withdrawal would be disastrous. Today, he has an op-ed in the Seattle Times elaborating on the need to stay and fight despite his initial opposition to the war:
The invasion of Iraq may be one of the worst foreign-policy mistakes in the history of our nation. As tragic and costly as that mistake has been, a precipitous or premature withdrawal of our forces now has the potential to turn the initial errors into an even greater problem just as success looks possible.
As a Democrat who voted against the war from the outset and who has been frankly critical of the administration and the post-invasion strategy, I am convinced by the evidence that the situation has at long last begun to change substantially for the better. I believe Iraq could have a positive future. Our diplomatic and military leaders in Iraq, their current strategy, and most importantly, our troops and the Iraqi people themselves, deserve our continued support and more time to succeed.
I understand the desire of many of our citizens and my colleagues in Congress to bring the troops home as soon as possible. The costs have been horrific for our soldiers, their families, the Iraqi people and the economy. If we keep our troops on the ground we will lose more lives, continue to spend billions each week, and, given the history and complex interests of the region, there is no certainty that our efforts will succeed in the long run. We must be absolutely honest about these costs and risks and I am both profoundly saddened and angry that we are where we are.
Knowing all this, how can someone who opposed the war now call for continuing the new directions that have been taken in Iraq? The answer is that the people, strategies and facts on the ground have changed for the better and those changes justify changing our position on what should be done.
I imagine that the the Seattle Times staffers who were cheering Karl Rove’s resignation will not be cheering Brian Baird.
Our soldiers are reclaiming ground and capturing or killing high-priority targets on a daily basis. Sheiks and tribal groups are uniting to fight against the extremists and have virtually eliminated al-Qaida from certain areas. The Iraqi military and police are making progress in their training, taking more responsibility for bringing the fight to the insurgents and realizing important victories. Businesses and factories that were once closed are being reopened and people are working again. The infrastructure is gradually being repaired and markets are returning to life.
Without question, these gains are still precarious and there are very real and troubling problems with the current Iraqi political regime and parliament at the national level.
The Iraqis are addressing these problems along with our own State Department but these issues will not easily be resolved and could, if not solved, throw the success of the entire endeavor into jeopardy.
Those problems notwithstanding, to walk away now from the recent gains would be to lose all the progress that has been purchased at such a dear price in lives and dollars. As one soldier said to me, “We have lost so many good people and invested so much, It just doesn’t make sense to quit now when we’re finally making progress. I want to go home as much as anyone else, but I want this mission to succeed and I’m willing to do what it takes. I just want to know the people back home know we’re making progress and support us.”
A related must-read: Greyhawk responds to the NYTimes op-ed by a group of 82d Airborne NCOs.
Via Vets for Freedom, a new ad campaign from Freedom’s Watch.
And in case you missed it, here’s a reminder of upcoming events and activities in Washington, D.C. in a few weeks: The return of the Eagles.
The LATimes reports:
he chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is expected to advise President Bush to reduce the U.S. force in Iraq next year by almost half, potentially creating a rift with top White House officials and other military commanders over the course of the war.
Administration and military officials say Marine Gen. Peter Pace is likely to convey concerns by the Joint Chiefs that keeping well in excess of 100,000 troops in Iraq through 2008 will severely strain the military. This assessment could collide with one being prepared by the U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, calling for the U.S. to maintain higher troop levels for 2008 and beyond.
And GOP Sen. John Warner wants pullouts by Christmas.
Charles Krauthammer boils down what he sees as the “Iraqi convergence” and the path forward:
[C]ontinuing the surge while finally trying to change the central government is the most rational choice because the only available alternative is defeat — a defeat that is not at all inevitable and that would be both catastrophic and self-inflicted.
AllahPundit points to the op-ed the NYTimes wouldn’t publish and has more on Pace, the NIE, and what Iyad Allawai is up to.