Joseph L. Galloway knows war. He was brutally introduced to it at the Battle of Ia Drang, in November 1965, when he accompanied (then) Lt. Colonel Harold "Hal" Moore and his 1st Battaliion, U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division into Landing Zone X-Ray. He is the only civilian to be awarded the Bronze Star in the Vietnam War, for his valor in rescuing U.S. soldiers under heavy enemy fire during that battle. As a UPI war correspondent, he served three tours in Vietnam. He is the co-author with Hal Moore of We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young, their first-hand account of the Battle of Ia Drang. Galloway currently is a military correspondent for the McClatchy Newspapers. When he writes about war, one doesn't have to agree with him, but one had better listen with respect.
In an opinion piece today in the Salt Lake City Tribune, entitled "Another Flight From Reality by Bush," Galloway questions whether a small temporary bump in the U.S. troop commitment in Iraq of only 10,000 to 30,000 troops would have any salutary effect. He points out:
The idea of so small a bump doesn't even meet the suggestions of the only two outside advisers who promoted the idea of a surge of as many as 50,000 additional U.S. troops for at least 18 months - neo-conservative think tanker Fred Kagan and retired Army Gen. Jack Keane. It doesn't come close to the 100,000 more troops that Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona - who hopes to be his party's nominee for president in 2008- has advocated, nor does it satisfy the majority of Americans who no longer have any trust in Bush's conduct of the Iraq war, or those like-minded voters who turned Congress over to the Democrats in the November mid-term elections.
Galloway does not hide the fact that he considers the entire Iraq invasion to have been folly. He calls it "a war without end and without purpose" and "an unnecessary and costly war." However, even many of us who suppported the invasion of Iraq acknowledge that the occupation and anti-insurgency campaign have been dreadfully mismanaged. If the U.S. now is to "double-down" in a last-chance attempt at achieving a satisfactory political outcome, this is no time for half measures. The commitment must be at least the troop strength and minimally the 18-month time period advocated by Kagan and Keane.
I do not know whether the American military can sustain that level of commitment, much less the 100,000 additional troops advocated by John McCain. It would be unworthy of the sacrifice already borne by American military forces for George W. Bush, as Galloway accuses, "to buy another couple of years of violent stalemate so he can hand off the disaster to whoever succeeds him in the White House on Jan. 20, 2009."
Galloway's words are harsh and unsparing. But let's be honest with ourselves--Joe Galloway is not Cindy Sheehan and his critique cannot be offhandedly dismissed. Those who would back either maintaining the status quo, regarding U.S. military commitment, or to increase that commitment, must be able to intelligently discuss and refute Galloway's position. If any of our readers are able to do so, please post your comments here.