Out of the Race speculates that Democratic control of Congress will take a toll on the American military:
When all is said and done in connection with the Pentagon management shakeup, the Baker commission report and the Dems actively taking control of the legislative branch, I for one will be watching the reenlistment rate among the troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. I suspect many troops will opt to return to civilian life if they feel that they no longer have support from the policymakers, rather than be jerked around by people who think like John Kerry. And if the re-up rate goes down, original enlistments will probably decrease, too. Nobody wants to fight in a war that the movers and shakers don’t want to win. That was true in Korea and Vietnam, and it’s true now.
I think he’s right there. The troops support the mission in Iraq. They understand, far better than our chattering classes, what we’re fighting over there. The rates of reenlistment, especially among combat units, has been far higher than what the Pentagon expected. By every measure, America’s fighting men and women have done an incredible job of engaging the enemy in incredibly difficult circumstances.
However, they depend on the support of their government back home, and when the message that the Democrats are sending is that they want to end the mission regardless of what the outcome will be, that has a profoundly demoralizing effect. The Democrats have spend the last three years constantly harping on every aspect of this war — and now they’re in a position where they are supposed to be supporting our troops. Those two positions are irreconcilable.
I do agree that reenlistment will suffer. I think that the result of this will be that the military will end up being less capable in a time when we need to be able to respond to terrorism better. Broken machinery can be replaced, but you can’t replace the leadership that comes from an experienced and effective NCO and officer corps. If we start losing combat-tested soldiers because they’ve lost faith in the political culture, our military will suffer.
One of the chief justifications that the Democrats use for their position on Iraq is that pulling out will help the military. That simply isn’t true — look at how demoralized the military was after the disastrous pullout in Vietnam.
The arguments for withdrawal neither overcome the message that they’ll send to the enemy, nor do they overcome the message we’ll be sending to our own troops. Calling Iraq a “failure” is profoundly disrespectful to those brave Americans and our allies who are doing everything possible to win this war. Saying that it is unwinnable when they know better is equally disrespectful. If our political culture doesn’t support our military culture, we will not be able to fight this current war with the vigor it requires — should that happen, we will all suffer the consequences.