Attempting to clarify yesterday’s statement that the war in Iraq is “lost“, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today that he “supports the troops who lost the war.”
In an audiotape recorded from an undisclosed location and released through Al-Jazeera TV, Sen. Reid said, “The troops who lost the war should hold their heads high, because not everyone can be a winner, and they gave it a good try.”
CIA analysis of the tape indicates the voice is “almost certainly” Sen. Reid’s and that references to recent events show that the Democrat leader may still be at large, in good health and “substantially in charge” of his network of Democrat senators.
On the tape, Sen. Reid also said, “It’s not the fault of our troops that they represent an evil regime, or that they wear the uniform of the nation viewed by many as ‘the Great Satan.’”
Meanwhile, Harry's a hit with our enemies.
Middle Eastern Media Take Up Reid's "War Is Lost": Iranian Press TV reports, in response to Reid's statement:
Leader of the Democratic majority in the US Congress, Harry Reid, has said the US has lost the Iraq war, and Bush's troop surge has failed.... Reid's comments came a day after 200 fatalities were reported in bombings in Iraq, despite a much touted US Security Plan which the White House said sought to root out insurgency."
A Republican party e-mail also reported the following as translations of items from Al-Jazeera Online, and Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, "The Leading Arabic International Daily"; please let me know if the translations are inaccurate:
"Yesterday the leader of the Democratic majority in Congress, Harry Reid, announced that he conveyed to Bush that the United States lost the war in Iraq and that the additional America forces that were sent there will not succeed in the achievement of any positive progress."
"Leader of the Democratic majority in the US Congress, Harry Reid, has said the US has lost the Iraq war, and Bush's troop surge has failed.... Reid's comments came a day after 200 fatalities were reported in bombings in Iraq, despite a much touted US Security Plan which the White House said sought to root out insurgency."
As I have said before, it may well be quite proper -- and certainly constitutionally protected -- for people to criticize the war; and sometimes the benefits of such criticism, even of the "war is lost" variety and even when said by leading U.S. politicians, outweigh the costs. Yet it seems to me hard to doubt that this statement will have grave cost.
If Napoleon was right that "In war the moral [meaning 'morale'] is to the material as three to one," then it seems to me that Reid's statements may prove highly objectively costly, chiefly by strengthening the enemy's morale as well as by weaking our own soldiers'. Likewise if Churchill was right that even statements that "weaken confidence in the Government" and "make the Army distrust the backing it is getting from the civil power" may prove to be "to the distress of all our friends and to the delight of all our foes" (Speech in the House of Commons (July 2, 1942)). How much more distress and delight must be caused by statements that represent that the Congressional majority actually believes the war to be lost.
Maybe, as I said, the benefit of the statements exceeds their harm. And maybe the harm will be modest, because everyone -- among our enemies as well as among our military -- has already assumed that the Democratic leadership thinks this. Yet my suspicion is that the harm will be quite substantial indeed.