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Robert G. Gard’s “Other” Open Letter to the President

John on August 16, 2006 at 1:38 am

Ret. Gen. Robert G. Gard will release an open letter tomorrow signed by 21 retired military personnel. According to this story heralding the event in the LA Times, the intent of the letter is to get the President to reconsider his “hard line” Middle East policy. One of the things Gen. Gard is in favor of is negotiating with President Ahmadinejad over his nuclear ambitions.

As it happens, this isn’t the first time Gen. Gard has issued such a letter. In November of 2005, he came out in support of John Murtha’s call for a prompt withdrawal of troops from Iraq. This other open letter begins with a quote followed by a call to — you guessed it — reevaluate our foreign policy:

“What is worse than soldiers dying in vain is even more soldiers dying in vain.”

The continued conflict in the Gulf War, and the massive reconstruction necessary on the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, require a reevaluation of American policy in Iraq….

The remainder of the 2005 letter is chock full of liberal talking points:

  • “the situation in Iraq already is a disaster, both for the American military and for Iraqi civilians.”
  • “Iraq became a haven for terrorists as a direct result of the U.S. invasion. It is quite possible that ending the occupation would decrease, not increase, terrorist activity”
  • “We are failing to accord sufficient priority to this threat [Al Qaeda], due in large part to our preoccupation with the ongoing war in Iraq.”
  • “Accusations that arguments for policy change constitute a “cut and run” surrender is an emotional ploy that obfuscates the issue.”
  • “polls reveal that most now believe the war has made the world more, not less, dangerous.”
  • “The war against extremists cannot be won primarily through the use of force. It is foremost a war of ideas.”

Personally my favorite part of the 2005 letter has to be this one offered in defense of leaving Iraq:

After a long insurgency, Charles de Gaulle withdrew French forces from Algeria because the costs of continuing outweighed the possible benefits for France. Algeria became independent, and France became stronger as a result of its withdrawal.

Yes, he actually cites a “French withdrawal” as an example for American policy to imitate!

There is much more in the letter I could highlight (nothing you haven’t heard many times), but I’ll skip ahead to the conclusion:

It is time to cut our losses. We should begin to disengage early in 2006…

Ultimately, the United States will be stronger if we leave the quagmire that is Iraq to resolution by its own citizens.

I’m guessing the new letter won’t stray very far from the script. Nevertheless I doubt the MSM will note the fact that this is Gen. Gard’s second trip to the “cut and run” salad bar.

Finally, here are a few other interesting things I discovered about Gen. Gard, which help put his current comments in perspective:

  • He signed a letter (with other retired officers) supporting an anti-torture measure sponsored by John McCain (pdf here)
  • He came out against the flag burning amendment, apparently under the banner of the ACLU
  • He opposed President Bush’s call to expand use of military in response to natural disasters, saying, “I cannot imagine U.S. troops surrounding a town where avian flu has broken out with fixed bayonets to prevent people from getting out of the town–that’s just nuts… (Bush is) trying to recover from the fact that there was a failure, both local and nationally, in responding to Katrina.”
  • He came out against the nomination of William Haynes to a seat on the Court of Appeals for the 4th circuit. (pdf of letter to Senate Judiciary Committee)
  • He is a senior fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation who has written on topics such as Missile Defense and Nuclear Weapons.

Update: For the record, the point of these additional bits of information is not that they are all disreputable or that I agree or disagree with them. The point is that Gen. Gage is and has been a liberal in opposition to the President and his party for some time now. Given that, and the fact that he has already issued one open letter on foreign policy less than a year ago, I have to question how newsworthy this new “open letter” really is. “Democrats Reject Bush!” is not headline material at this point. Gard’s comments should be weighted accordingly.

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