I really wanted to support Jim Gilmore for Senate. I’m one of many who believe he has been underestimated as a Governor. I was ready and eager to see him take on Mark Warner, especially since Warner threw Gilmore under the bus on the budget.
Surprisingly, the local blogosphere seemed to have missed Gilmore’s June 18 wilt in the Washington Post (although I am basing this on a search from three months hence, as this happened just after I went dark). Still it cannot be ignored. Not only does Gilmore publicly express his disapproval of the President’s strategy, he hides behind the tried old shibboleths that typify the yellow-streak Republicans.
Gilmore starts sounding silly in the second paragraph of his abysmal piece (emphasis added):
As you know from my public statements, I have supported your increase in troops in Iraq in the belief that a new initiative was necessary to bring the Iraq war to a successful conclusion. It has been my position that this troop increase should be given an opportunity to work. Increasingly, however, reports show that attacks on our troops, Iraqi police and civilians are not abating.
It is clear from the statements previously made by your administration that there was never any intention to become embroiled in a guerrilla war, urban or otherwise. American power is not advantaged in such a situation. Trying to fight a guerrilla war in the cities and towns of Iraq has opened opportunities for terrorist enemies such as al-Qaeda and fostered an environment for a Shiite-Sunni civil war in which we have no stake.
The ignorance in that paragraph is Webb-esque. Iraq has never been in a “Sunni-Shiite civil war,” it has been fighting a double-edged Iranian infiltration, in which both al Qaeda and the Mahdi Army have taken part. As for the “guerrilla war,” what does Gilmore recommend? Letting al Qaeda win it?
In fact, Gilmore doesn’t really answer. Instead, he piously calls for “a third way,” which sounds quite a bit like the way of the Democrats:
I believe the only realistic alternative — the least bad option, if you will — is a limited deliberate drawdown of our military men and women and a redeployment of the forces remaining in the region to areas where they can more efficiently and effectively carry out a clearly defined mission . . . maintaining — either at bases in Iraq at the request of Iraq or in bases in Turkey, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia — a military force powerful enough to launch special operations missions against al-Qaeda or Sunni insurgents in Iraq; train Iraqi troops to defend their own country; and guarantee the security of the Iraqi government, if so desired by Iraq.
In other words, Gilmore wanted our troops to return to the very failed plan that led to the pre-surge problems on the first place. He makes exactly the same mistake the Democrats do.
Gilmore the concludes with a classic Webb-like drive-by smear:
American interests come down to protection of our national security, protection of Israel’s right to exist, and averting, if possible, a general war in the Middle East, nuclear or otherwise. Our present conduct in Iraq distracts from or is detrimental to those goals.
Gilmore dropped that political bomb at the very time it became increasingly clear to more and more observers that the American military was taking the fight to the terrorists – an overwhelming majority of whom were and are not Iraqis – and making improvements. Now, Gilmore did not echo Harry “The war is lost” Reid, but he came damn close – far too close for my comfort.
If this were a race for Governor, these issues would take second place to Gilmore’s firm rejection of tax increases. However, this is a race for the United States Senate, and as such, national security must come first.
Therefore, I cannot support Jim Gilmore, and since Tom Davis is no better, I have no choice but to sit on the sidelines until a Republican candidate who supports the mission emerges. One Jim Webb in the Senate is bad enough; we don’t need two.