Saturday, November 05, 2005

Expiration Date on War Support

Strategypage notes the Three-Year Rule that holds that Americans tire of war after three years:

In all of America's wars, popular support for the war effort sharply declined after three years. Even though the government said, from late September, 2001 on, that the war on terror would be a long one, this has not changed the impact of the Three Year War. If you can't get it over with within three years, you are going to face more and more voter opposition to the war effort.

The opposition party in the United States has been edging from complaining about the war to downright opposition, gradually taking the position of their party's extreme wacko Left:

Outnumbered on Capitol Hill, Democrats are embracing the little power they have in the GOP-controlled House and Senate by using procedural techniques to highlight Iraq troubles and issue blistering critiques of Bush's war policies.

At the same time, increasing numbers of Democrats are calling for the president to start withdrawing U.S. troops by year's end and are laying out their own timetables for pulling out of the war-battered country.

This change is despite the fact that they voted to wage war and they agreed with the reasons for war--including WMD--before and during the war. Suddenly they think the war is bad, the reasons were lies, and it's time to abandon friends to the tender mercies of our enemies. Before long they won't even be able to say they support the troops. Already they run "gulags" and "torture" so can "baby killer" be far behind? Way to go, guys. I know elements of the extreme right are anti-war, too, so it may seem unfair to say the Left alone is anti-war. But the right has no friends in the media so they are marginalized. The Left gets their views amplified and supported by the media.

Which raises an interesting question. Our leaders have been keen on getting the support of the American people for war. The military especially has been gun shy after Vietnam unless the American people clearly support the decision to wage war. The resulting Abrams Doctrine of relying on our reserves to ensure public debate prior to going to war surely worked for the Iraq War. There was mobilization, debate, and a Congressional authorization for war that reflected public polling in support of war. Pretty much the Gold standard, wouldn't you say?

But now elements of our population and political parties are abandoning their earlier pledge of support while the war is not yet won. We are winning but the war is not yet won.

So the question is, when giving consent to wage war, don't those who give that consent have an obligation to maintain that consent until victory? Was there a clause in the Congressional declaration that said it sunsets in 2006 or is there a subsection that allows for a reversal at the 2,000th casualty? And the American people whose support for winning is dropping, the same criticism holds. If our enemies ever believe our people have a particular threshold where we retreat, we guarantee resistance to reach that threshold.

And if your doubt that there is political purpose to the complaints, read this:

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts called for a "reasonable time frame" for pulling back troops, and said 20,000 should start returning home in December if the elections go well.

This is sheer politics. Our baseline troop strength in Iraq is 138,000. We have held some troops over and accelerated some deployments to overlap units that are rotating in order to have 160,000 troops in Iraq for the elections of October and December. Once these elections are over, we will go back to having nearly 140,000 troops in Iraq. What a coincidence.

I'm just wondering something. Because our troops went into battle on the assumption that the people back home would back them until victory. The troops are holding up their end of the battle by fighting, dying, and winning. All we have to do is stop forgetting what we all agreed on and agreed to do.

There is no substitute for victory. We gave our word.