Rep. John Murtha on Iran: A Well Intentioned Smokescreen?


B13928 / Thu, 23 Mar 2006 06:44:10 / Iraq


“We have a situation where our military is in such bad shape, it couldn’t deploy to a second front,” Murtha said. “And the Iranians know this. North Korea knows it. China knows it. We’re depleting our resources in Iraq.

John Murtha is without a doubt one of the few in Congress that has been willing to speak out and give his constituents and the American public an informed and honest appraisal of the war in Iraq.

Unfortunately, the assertion that the military is incapable of a second deployment or that the Bush Administration can not initiate a larger war in the Middle East without the support of Congress is nonsense.

While unlikely prior to the upcoming elections, there is a high probability of an eventual military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities and ballistic missile installations. The government of Israel has said as much. The IAF is entirely capable of launching such a strike with no more than an American green light to do so. Whatever logistical support would be necessary certainly would not require Congressional approval.

While Congress has prevented the development of the nuclear bunker busters that the Administration lobbied for, no such restrictions have been placed upon the Israelis. It is entirely plausible, given the high level of coordination and joint research projects that are currently underway between the U.S. and Israel, that this project has simply been outsourced.

Because the Bush Administration failed to garner public and Congressional support for these weapons does not mean they were or are not being developed.

If the Israeli’s did indeed possess nuclear bunker busters, which I admit is a possibility and not a certainty, they would be highly capable of inflicting a great deal of damage to the Iranian nuclear program.

The IAF does have conventional bunker busters, they obtained them from the USA. For what purpose? While they do not declare they have pursued research or development of a nuclear bunker buster, neither do they admit to having nuclear weapons, period.

The only plausible target for a nuclear tipped bunker buster is a nuclear site. The resulting radiation that would be expected from such a strike will provide the cover for denying the existence or use of such a weapon.

Such an attack, could reasonably be expected to prompt Iranian retaliation and a likely ballistic missile attack on the Jewish State. The U.S. would be seen as an accomplice by the Iranians and the Arab street.

Israel has deployed and would use it’s missile defenses to mitigate any Iranian missile attack. Missiles falling short of their intended targets in Israel could wreak havoc and cause mass casualties in the West Bank. This collateral damage would be regarded as the fault of the Israelis by the Palestinians for initiating the conflict.

The Palestinians might suspect that the situation was actually part of a plan to drive them from the West Bank and that the incoming ordinance are not actually coming from Iran but from Israeli submarines or surface ships in the Persian Gulf.

No matter what the actual cause or how limited the effect, an Iranian ballistic missile retaliation would precipitate a sharp increase in tensions between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

The apartheid wall or separation barrier, remains under construction and is largely incomplete with the exceptions of crucial and vulnerable areas surrounding urban centers. Logically priority was given to completion of the most critical sectors first.

This state on incompletion will have the psychological impact of leaving Israeli society feeling more exposed than they’d have been had the barrier been completed. This perceived vulnerability would foster a sense of urgency to introduce stopgap measures.

Minefields along the route and increased armed patrols, shoot on sight in closed areas, ect. This in turn would cause the Palestinians to feel a similar sense of vulnerability by virtue of the fact they are already largely separated from each other and all routes to relative safety are under Israeli control.

They would in effect be hostages and held in place as human shields. There would be no possible mitigating measures to prevent a sharp increase in already high political tensions that are almost sure to begin a cycle of increasing violence both in the immediate region and against U.S. and Israeli interests in the greater Middle East.

A limited engagement between U.S. and Iranian armed forces could be expected should the U.S. follow Iranian “terrorists” beyond the Iraqi border into Iran, which is a near certainty. Another aspect is increased destabilization in Iraq proper and sharp increase in the numbers of U.S. casualties in Iraq.

What would Congress do regarding funding a larger war in this instance?

This limited scenario disregards the possibility that the Iranians would respond immediately to an Israeli air strike with a ballistic missile attack on U.S. installations and assets throughout the region.

If the Iranians begin a full scale assault and the nuclear threshold has already been crossed, albeit to a limited degree, the Administration wouldn’t have time to poll Congress regarding how to proceed, it could be all out war in the Middle East.

All accomplished without any prerequisite Congressional approval, planning or oversight. As for Murtha’s assertion that the military is overextended and incapable at this time to take on Iran:

While I concur with Murtha’s assertion that the military is overextended regarding maintaining an occupation and trying to prevent Iraq from devolving into a full scale civil war while launching a simultaneous invasion into Iran, I differ with the assessment that our military needs to be redone and rebuilt to show the Iranians we mean business.

Our military is designed and equipped to be a fighting force, not an occupying force. Regarding it’s capabilities as an invasion force, with improved body armor, thousands of up armored Humvee’s in theatre, and experienced battle hardened troops, our military is better prepared for an invasion of Iran today than it has ever been previously or was when the order was given to invade Iraq.

Iran would fundamentally depend on it’s large numbers of lightly armed military aged populace and insurgent tactics to exact a price from the U.S. military. The conventional forces of Iran would face the same reality as Saddam’s troops did. Disperse into the civilian population and come back to fight another day or face certain death in an effort to directly confront overwhelming American power.

The lesson of Iraq has not been lost on the Iranian military leadership and I’m sure that they have laid out plans for that contingency.

As for a diplomatic solution to the “Iranian Nuclear Crisis”:

The Iranians have under international law the right to develop nuclear power and it has yet to be proved that they are developing a bomb. A diplomatic solution depends upon the rule of law or threat of economic sanctions.

The Iranians have promised to counter proposed economic sanctions with reduced oil exports, a situation the world economy simply can not afford. If a global recession is unavoidable due to rising political tensions in the Middle East, the Bush Administration may proceed on the premise that economic displacement is best managed by going out with a bang and not a whimper.

While a “cut and run” policy is not in Iraqi or American best interests, our troops should disengage from waging offensive operations against the insurgents and begin a staged withdrawal immediately.

Public discourse on this matter peaked last fall and has since subsided.

The Administration seems to regard this as consent for an open ended deployment and part of the recently approved supplemental will fund construction of semi-permanent base facilities. In addition to maintaining a presence within Iraq, these bases may be used as a support and staging area for war and eventual occupation of Iran.

President Bush is currently very weak in the polls. Though the President is not eligible for re-election, he is concerned about the effects his popularity will have on the upcoming congressional races. Once certain of the outcome of these elections, his focus will return to accomplishing the goals stated when beginning his Presidency.

Each of us, when deciding for ourselves what responsible military policy is in Iraq, need to fully consider the contingencies implementation makes possible.

The military deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan do not exist as separate entities nor are they the result of independent foreign policies. Take a hard look at a map of the region, remembering President Bush’s statements identifying the “axis of evil” and ask yourself what the Administration’s grand strategy was at that time?

Do you believe the Administration makes war plans in terms of weeks and months, or years and decades? It is quite possible that our troops are exactly on the course they’ve plotted.

It is also possible that this war and occupation of Iraq has been mismanaged to necessitate a continued military presence as a prelude to what will surely be the most difficult aspect of achieving victory over the “axis of evil”.

If you can, with a clear conscience say that you believe that our troops remain in Iraq simply for the sake of quelling the insurgency and stabilizing Iraq, then “stay the course” is an appropriate position.

If not, you deserve a more clearly delineated policy.

Unless Congress is now endorsing the policy of “pre-emptive war”, they need to take affirmative steps to prevent this increasingly likely probability.

The time is now for the Congress to assume their responsibilities and communicate their individual positions with clarity to their respective constituencies and to the White House.

“Stay the course” is not a strategy. Defining the goal and charting the course to achieve that goal is.

Trusting the Administration to decide for the entire country has proven itself the path to unnecessary loss of blood and treasure.

Hindsight, though admittedly always 20/20, illustrates that this war and occupation have been conducted in a manner contrary to the counsel of top military commanders. The war and occupation of Iraq are instead waged according to a strategy set forth by the Secretary of Defense and a few other insiders. We know where they stand today on Iran.

We must call upon Congress to issue a statement regarding what they anticipate the outcome of the policies they are endorsing to be and address the potential for war with Iran.

Experience reveals what their stand will be if President Bush does order our troops into Iran. We can reasonably anticipate it will be identical to their support for continuing conflict in Iraq and our troops will then be in Iran for the long haul as well.

Should this transpire, we would come to regard this initial phase of the greater war in the Middle East as relatively insignificant.

In closing, collectively as a nation we have been fooled once by this Administration, shame on them.

Should we be fooled again, shame on U.S.



Shame on U.S.

Sometimes no Peace,

GWHunta @ 05/10/06 21:00:21
Photo added in memory of a true American hero.
February 9th, 2010

4 Responses to Rep. John Murtha on Iran: A Well Intentioned Smokescreen?

  1. gwhunta says:

    John Murtha Dead: Congressman Died At Age 77

    PETER JACKSON | 02/ 8/10 11:50 PM

    HARRISBURG, Pa. — Rep. John Murtha, the tall, gruff-mannered former Marine who became the de facto voice of veterans on Capitol Hill and later an outspoken and influential critic of the Iraq War, died Monday following complications from gallbladder surgery. He was 77.

    Rep. Bob Brady, a longtime friend, said the late congressman’s large intestine was damaged during surgery and an infection led him to be hospitalized with a fever.

    “There will never be another Jack Murtha,” Brady said. “He went out on top of his game.”

    The Pennsylvania Democrat died at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Va., where he was admitted on Jan. 31. The gallbladder surgery was performed days earlier at the National Naval Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md., which didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.

    In 1974, Murtha, then an officer in the Marine Reserves, became the first Vietnam War combat veteran elected to Congress. Ethical questions often shadowed his congressional service, but he was best known for being among Congress’ most hawkish Democrats. He wielded considerable clout for two decades as the ranking Democrat on the House subcommittee that oversees Pentagon spending.

    Murtha voted in 2002 to authorize President George W. Bush to use military force in Iraq, but his growing frustration over the administration’s handling of the war prompted him in November 2005 to call for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops.

    “The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion,” he said.

    Murtha’s opposition to the Iraq war rattled Washington, where he enjoyed bipartisan respect for his work on military issues. On Capitol Hill, Murtha was seen as speaking for those in uniform when it came to military matters.

    Murtha “was the first Vietnam veteran to serve in Congress, and he was incredibly effective in his service in the House,” said Rep. David Obey, a Democrat and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. “He understood the misery of war. Every person who serves in the military has lost an advocate and a good friend today.”

    Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said that in part because of Murtha, “America is now on track to removing all combat troops from that country by this summer.”

    President Barack Obama called Murtha, who was known in his home state for helping bring money and projects to areas depressed by the decline of the coal and steel industries, “a steadfast advocate for the people of Pennsylvania for nearly 40 years” with a “tough-as-nails” reputation.

    Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, remembered Murtha as a tireless advocate for veterans and the military.

    “From health care to weapons procurement, from shipbuilding to pay and benefits, no one understood the needs of our modern military better than he did,” Mullen said in a statement.

    “That we remain the greatest military in the history of world is testament in no small part to his vigilance and stewardship,” he said.

    Known for his seriousness, Murtha also had a lighter side. Gov. Ed Rendell recalled Monday that “he was a funny guy, he always enjoyed a good laugh and he was somebody who was a great and loyal friend.”

    Rendell said Monday that he has not decided when to schedule a special election to replace Murtha. He has 10 days by law; the political parties must come up with their own candidates. The governor said that it would save taxpayer money to hold the election on May 18, the state’s planned primary date, but that he might set it sooner in the event of urgent congressional issues.

    Murtha was born June 17, 1932. The former newspaper delivery boy left college in 1952 to join the Marines, where he rose through the ranks to become a drill instructor at Parris Island, S.C., and later served in the 2nd Marine Division. He settled in Johnstown, then volunteered for Vietnam, where he served as an intelligence officer and earned a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.

    He was serving in the Pennsylvania House in Harrisburg when he was elected to Congress in a special election in 1974. In 1990, he retired from the Marine Reserves as a colonel.

    “Ever since I was a young boy, I had two goals in life – I wanted to be a colonel in the Marine Corps and a member of Congress,” Murtha wrote in his 2004 book, “From Vietnam to 9/11.”

    Murtha’s criticism of the Iraq war intensified in 2006, when he accused Marines of murdering Iraqi civilians “in cold blood” at Haditha, after one Marine died and two were wounded by a roadside bomb.

    Critics said Murtha unfairly held the Marines responsible before an investigation was concluded and fueled enemy retaliation. He said that the war couldn’t be won militarily and that such incidents dimmed the prospect for a political solution.

    “This is the kind of war you have to win the hearts and minds of the people,” Murtha said. “And we’re set back every time something like this happens.”

    Murtha was a perennial target of critics of so-called pay-to-play politics. He routinely drew the attention of ethical watchdogs with off-the-floor activities, from his entanglement in the Abscam corruption probe three decades ago to the more recent scrutiny of the connection between special-interest spending known as earmarks and the raising of cash for campaigns.

    Murtha defended the practice of earmarking. The money, he said, benefited his constituents.

    He became chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee in 1989.

    Murtha’s critics recall the Abscam corruption probe, in which the FBI caught him on videotape in a 1980 sting operation turning down a $50,000 bribe offer while holding out the possibility that he might take money in the future.

    “We do business for a while, maybe I’ll be interested and maybe I won’t,” Murtha said on the tape.

    Six congressmen and one senator were convicted in that case. Murtha was not charged, but the government named him as an unindicted co-conspirator and he testified against two other congressmen.

    Murtha’s district encompasses all or part of nine counties in southwestern Pennsylvania and embodies the region’s stereotypes of coal mines, steel mills and blue-collar values.

    State Sen. Don White, an Army veteran and a Republican who represents a portion of Murtha’s district, said he and Murtha were longtime friends, despite holding different political views and serving in different branches of the military.

    “He made sure that Washington, D.C., knew where Johnstown, Indiana, Kittanning and a lot of other sites in western Pennsylvania were located,” White said.

    Survivors include his wife of nearly 55 years, Joyce, and three children.


    Kimberly Hefling contributed to this story from Washington.

  2. gwhunta says:

    Murtha to Obama: No more troops

    Posted By Josh Rogin Monday, September 14, 2009 – 3:33 PM

    House defense spending cardinal John Murtha, an early bellwether of congressional opposition to the Iraq war, has made his strongest comments yet opposing more U.S. troops for the war in Afghanistan.

    The Pennsylvania lawmaker and Vietnam veteran, who plays a crucial role in forming the budgets that would fund an increased troop presence, is skeptical of the basic logic of adding personnel.

    “In Vietnam it took 500,000 troops and that didn’t solve the problem. So we have to take a different approach,” Murtha told The Cable in an exclusive interview. “I think that’s what McChrystal is trying to do,” he said, referring to Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, who recently delivered a status report to the White House on the situation there.

    Murtha’s dissent comes at a critical juncture, with the Washington debate heating up and public support for the war effort dropping. The Pennsylvania congressman is only the latest senior Democratic lawmaker to come out against a troop increase, following similar statements last week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin.

    But opposition from Murtha, who has deep contacts among the military brass, could ultimately prove more problematic for an Obama administration that has yet to launch a full-throated to defense of the war. In 2005, the congressman’s call for a rapid pullout from Iraq rallied the anti-war camp and led to a series of fights with the Bush administration over restrictions that Democrats sought but ultimately failed to attach to war funds. This time, he’s going against a president of his own party.

    McChrystal’s status report did not include specific requests for more troops. Those are expected in the coming weeks. But Murtha said that it was premature to add more troops to Afghanistan, especially since the current plan to increase U.S. forces there to the level of 68,000 is still underway.

    “Look how long it took us to get 22,000 more troops, it took 18 months! Jesus Christ!” said Murtha, “When they talk about more troops they act as if you can send them in immediately.”

    Murtha also had some choice words for the NATO countries that are part of the international mission in Afghanistan.

    “At the same time, the American people are supporting this and the Europeans aren’t supporting this,” Murtha said, “The Europeans aren’t doing a damn thing.”

    Same Argument, Different Motives

    Each senior Democrat has his or her own reason for putting forth warnings to the administration regarding Afghan troop increases. Pelosi, for example, must attend to the liberal wing of her party, which has repeatedly called for no more war funding until an exit strategy is proffered.

    Pelosi herself has voted against war funding in the past while simultaneously leading the strategy for passing said funding in her chamber. And House Appropriations chairman David Obey (D-WI), has suggested that he might not support more funding for the Afghan war if progress isn’t demonstrated within the next year.

    Levin’s trepidation about adding troops to Afghanistan is tied to his long-held desire to push for a much larger increase in the size of the Afghan National Security Forces. The administration could grant him concessions on this goal in exchange for his support, but there are serious questions about whether or not more money for the Afghan army could be spent usefully in the near term.

    For Murtha, his aversion to increased troops levels relates to his ongoing battle with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates regarding the overall way forward for the armed forces.

    Gates and Murtha stand on opposite sides of a growing divide in the defense community over how to deal with a military facing budgets that are leveling off after years of huge increases. For Murtha, every dollar spent on personnel is a dollar taken away from the procurement programs he works to protect.

    Murtha has resisted several of the major changes Gates announced this year for large Pentagon procurement programs such as the F-22 fighter, the alternative engine for the F-35, the VH-71 presidential helicopter, and many more.

    Last month, Murtha bristled at Gates’s announcement that he wanted to add 30,000 new soldiers to the Army for only three years’ time and without requesting any additional funds from Congress.

    And Murtha has said there will be a new supplemental spending bill to pay for the wars this spring. The administration is trying to fund war operations through the regular budget, but a troop increase probably would not be covered under the currently proposed allotments.

    Not all Democrats are growing weary of the Afghanistan mission. House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) put out a statement Sept. 10 that said, in part, “Now is not the time to lose our resolve. We must give our forces the time and resources they need to show progress in the fight against the enemies responsible for the attacks of 9/11.”

    A Sept. 1 CBS News poll reported that now 41 percent of Americans want to see a decreased U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan, up from 33 percent in April and 24 percent in February. Forty-eight percent of respondents said they approve of Obama’s handling of the war, down from 56 percent in April.

    The administration is due to report to Congress on its metrics for measuring progress in Afghanistan on Sept. 24.

    Josh Rogin reports on national security and foreign policy from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom, the White House to Embassy Row, for The Cable.

  3. gwhunta says:

    By DAVID ROGERS | 2/2/10 10:43 AM EST
    Updated: 2/3/10 2:09 PM EST

    Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha is in stable condition in the intensive care unit of a Virginia hospital because of a serious complications related to gall bladder surgery last week.

    The 77-year-old Democrat underwent scheduled laparoscopic surgery to remove his gallbladder at Bethesda Naval Hospital last Thursday but then, after his release, sought care at the Virginia Hospital Center over the weekend.

    The congressman’s spokesman declined to say Tuesday what led him to be hospitalized again. But responding to questions Wednesday, he said that Murtha was in stable condition. Two persons said it appeared Murtha’s intestine had been cut inadvertently during the gall bladder removal.

    The Hospital Center, located in Arlington, confirmed that Murtha was a patient in its intensive care unit but referred all questions about his condition to his family.

    A powerhouse in the House Appropriations Committee and close friend of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D—Cal.), Murtha was hospitalized for in December as well when he suffered an infection in his gall bladder. The doctors then decided that it should be removed once the infection had been tempered, and that set up the surgery last week at Bethesda.

    In the interim, Murtha has been back in the Capitol and active in the House.

    In his familiar style, he returned quickly from Bethesda in December—with IV bandages still on him—so as to oversee passage of his defense appropriations bill. Last week, prior to the surgery, he was voting on the House floor, meeting on Haiti relief, and laying the groundwork for handing the administration’s new request for war funding related to the war in Afghanistan.

    Details of that request were spelled out in President Barack Obama’s budget Monday and include a footnote of sorts to Murtha’s own career. Along with funds for the Defense and State Departments, the White House confirmed it will also be asking for $13.4 billion to pay veterans claims arising from the use of the herbicide Agent Orange in the Vietnam War—where Murtha served as a Marine.

    Pelosi, who spoke with Murtha’s chief-of-staff John Hugya, said Tuesday evening that her sense was the medical situation was under control, but that the chairman faced a long recovery that could keep him sidelined until after the President’s Day recess.

    “I think it will be a few weeks before he is back,” the speaker told POLITICO.
    “It’s serious that he needs to recover…. We’re praying that he is comfortable. We know he will get up.”

  4. gwhunta says:

    Remembering The ‘Murthquake’: When John Murtha Took On The Iraq War

    Posted: 02- 8-10 06:09 PM

    The passing of Rep. John Murtha (D-Penn.) on Monday from gall bladder surgery complications brought to an end one of the most dynamic careers of the political generation that emerged from the Vietnam War.

    The 77-year-old lawmaker and warrior, who remained an officer in the Marine Reserves for the first eight of his 18 terms in office, was a classic blue-collar Democrat. He was a consistent and effective advocate of local working-class issues, as well as a supporter of gun rights and an opponent of abortion rights. His extraordinary talent for bringing home the pork made him legendary among insiders — and landed him in ethical hot water.

    But the Johnstown native forever cemented his legacy during a mid-November afternoon in 2005 when he went public with his skepticism about the course of the Iraq War.

    “The war in Iraq is not going as advertised,” he declared in a speech. “It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We can not continue on the present course.”

    It is rare that a political figure can literally re-chart the course of his political party. But in coming out for an immediate troop withdrawal, Murtha gave his Democratic colleagues the cover they needed to express their own reservations about the war. Those who worked closely with the congressman at the time — both on and off the Hill — credit him with elevating Iraq on the Democratic platform and in turn putting the party in a position to benefit from the wave of anti-war sentiment that swept the 2006 elections.

    “At the time, the debate was largely framed by George W. Bush’s ‘stay the course’ mentality and Cindy Sheehan’s protests down in Crawford,” said Brian Katulis, a leading foreign policy expert at the Center for American Progress. “That summer, there was a sense of growing unease with some opinion leaders in the party. [Sens.] Ted Kennedy, Russ Feingold and Carl Levin were out there, they all kind of came out in favor of a timely withdrawal. But when Murtha did it, just by virtue of who he was, the credibility he had; that did more than what the others could.”

    Looking back now, it’s difficult to recall the shock that the congressman gave to the political system at the time. That may be due to the fact that, five years on, Murtha’s vision is still unachieved: U.S. troops remain engaged in a now winding-down Iraq war.

    Story continues below
    But the “Murthquake,” as Katulis labeled the time period, was more than just a speech. For his party, it was an invitation to cast off the post-Vietnam national security deficit disorder that compelled them to demur whenever the political conversation switched to matters of war and peace. Unaccustomed to being in the national spotlight, Murtha neither had nor wanted the customary filter when responding to his critics. And he was better off for its absence.

    When Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex) thanked God that Murtha’s sort of thinking had not prevailed “after the bloodbaths of Normandy and in the Pacific or we would be here speaking Japanese or German,” the congressman threw the daggers right back.

    “Were you there?” Murtha barked from the floor of the House, a stare of disgust clear on his face. “Were you in Vietnam? Were you in Iraq?” Gohmert had no response.

    When Karl Rove, George W. Bush’s senior political adviser and hatchet man, delivered a speech accusing the congressman of wanting to cut and run from Iraq, Murtha responded with a withering comeback: “He’s making a political speech,” Murtha said on “Meet the Press”. “He’s sitting in his air-conditioned office with his big, fat backside, saying, ‘Stay the course.’ That’s not a plan. I mean, this guy — I don’t know what his military experience is, but that’s a political statement.”

    And when then-Vice President Dick Cheney accused Democrats of “self-defeating pessimism,” it was Murtha who took to the pages of the Washington Post, penning a column sarcastically titled “Confessions of a ‘Defeatocrat'”.

    “It’s all baseless name-calling, and it’s all wrong,” he said of Cheney. “Unless, of course, being a Defeatocrat means taking a good hard look at the administration’s Iraq policy and determining that it’s a failure. In that case, count me in. Because Democrats recognize that we’re headed for a far greater disaster in Iraq if we don’t change course — and soon. This is not defeatism. This is realism.”

    And yet, for all the conviction he brought to the cause, going public was not an easy decision. Katulis recalled working with the congressman closely on matters of troop deployments and watching as his evolving knowledge of the situation in Iraq and his talks with generals on the ground, caused him to sour on the entire enterprise. John Isaacs, executive director of the anti-war group Council for a Livable World, recalled the more intimate arm-twisting that compelled Murtha to come forward.

    “I remember the days during the early anti-war activities among House Democrats and people like Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) got involved and he would say, ‘I think we might get Jack Murtha against the war,'” said Isaacs. “And when he did, it was quite significant.”

    Even after the November 2005 speech, there were road bumps. The congressman’s rising stock within the party only went so far. Despite the close relationship he enjoyed with then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — having bet, early on, that she could (and would) be the first female speaker — he came up well short in his own bid for Majority Leader in 2006. When George W. Bush’s surge wielded incremental security benefits, Murtha struggled to defend his call for a full-bore troop pullout and took even more heat when admitting that, in a limited sense, the surge had worked.

    By the time the Obama administration rolled into Washington — when the congressman should have been a leading foreign policy voice within the Democratic ranks — Murtha was, instead, an odd man out. His propensity for securing gratuitous appropriations that often benefited his home district was unseemly. His ties to a defense-lobbying firm that had secured millions in government contracts landed him atop a list of most corrupt pols in Washington and even spurred the intervention of the FBI.

    On foreign policy, the Pennsylvania Democrat remained at odds with the White House — resolute in his belief that more war did not mean better security. Now, however, it was his own party’s leadership he opposed.

    “I’m not sure there’s a threat to our national security,” he said of President Obama’s Afghanistan surge, in a statement that did not command the television time or national attention that his speech against the Iraq war had five years earlier. “I do not see an achievable goal at this point.”

    Sam | HuffPost Reporting

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