Murtha: I Wouldn’t Join the Military Now
Congressman John Murtha, a Korea and Vietnam veteran whose call last month for a quick pullout of U.S. forces from Iraq, told “Nighline” last night that he would not join the military today:
Rep. John Murtha, a key Democratic voice who favors pulling U.S. troops from Iraq, said in remarks airing on Monday that he would not join the U.S. military today. A decorated Vietnam combat veteran who retired as a colonel after 37 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, Murtha told ABC News’ “Nightline” program that Iraq “absolutely” was a wrong war for President George W. Bush to have launched.
“Would you join (the military) today?,” he was asked in an interview taped on Friday. “No,” replied Murtha of Pennsylvania, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives subcommittee that oversees defense spending and one of his party’s leading spokesmen on military issues.
“And I think you’re saying the average guy out there who’s considering recruitment is justified in saying ‘I don’t want to serve’,” the interviewer continued. “Exactly right,” said Murtha, who drew White House ire in November after becoming the first ranking Democrat to push for a pullout of U.S. forces from Iraq as soon as it could be done safely.
The irony is that Murtha says he “left Washington and Jefferson College in 1952 to join the Marines out of a growing sense of obligation to his country during the Korean War” and later “volunteered for Vietnam in 1966-67.” Given the advantage of hindsight, one would be hard pressed to argue that either of his wars were more worth fighting than the current one.
All were entered partly as a component of larger ongoing wars, against Communism and Islamist terrorism, respectively. Korea claimed 33,651 American dead, many of whom were draftees, in just over three years of fighting. Vietnam killed 58,168 Americans, most of whom were draftees, in about three years of concentrated fighting and nearly fifteen total years of involvement. Both had negligible effect on the war against Communism. The Iraq War has claimed, thus far, 2178 American dead, all of whom were volunteers, in just under three years of fighting. Its impact on the war on terrorism is certainly debatable but it has killed untold hundreds of terrorists.
Were Presidents Truman and Johnson “absolutely” wrong in sending Murtha off to their wars?