I came up in the world respecting Mr Webb for his service in Vietnam and his brief tenure in the Reagan Administration. I was commissioned in 89, so those were the years when the foundations of my military knowledge and opinions were being formed. (No, I haven't read any of Webb's novels. Military fiction generally doesn't much do it for me, the truth is almost always more interesting. I have read “Born Fighting,” and it’s pretty good.) So know you that I am predisposed to respect him and heed his words, doubly so since he's a Marine.
But he's wrong on this issue. And here's why.
Withdrawal is not a plan for victory. The strategic merits or demerits of the 2003 invasion of Iraq are a legitimate source of debate. In my opinion, it is an integral part of the War. (I must tell you that the WMD issue does not trouble me. I think we actually found the real weapons of mass destruction in Iraq: the seething mass of discontented people, yoked to failed social and political experiments, lacking any means to affect their own destiny, with no experience of any sort of non-oppressive government, and therefore only too susceptible to the call of militancy.) There is no "war in Iraq," and "war in Afghanistan." There is the War; campaigns are underway in Iraq, and in Afghanistan, and in several other places. The War predates this administration, the one before it, and the two before that, and goes even farther back in history. The War will continue after this administration, with or without a bellum interruptum in Iraq.
Ok, Mr Webb, we hear your call to withdraw, and we accord it the proper respect. What now is your plan for victory? What is your plan not only to win the campaign in Iraq but to sustain the War? How will you educate the nation that this is a War of many decades, and it is for our national survival? I don't hear those answers, unfortunately.
And you run the risk, in this Marine’s eyes, of being associated with those on the left who, for whatever perverse reason, are wedded to defeat.