Tonight, Democrat Congressman John Murtha stuck his foot in his mouth, again, in an interview on John Kasich's program, "Heartland," on Fox News. As part of his argument that American troops should be withdrawn, starting now, he said,
"The US military is not good at nation-building. President Bush said, when he ran the first time, We're not going to get into nation-building."
Source: No transcript is yet available, but this was TiVo'ed and the quote is accurate.
What President Bush said when he was first running, before 9/11, before Congress authorized "all necessary military force" in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere is irrelevant. It does not control what should/must be done, today.
More importantly, Congressman Murtha's comment displays an abject ignorance of what General MacArthur's troops accomplished in Japan after WW II. His ignorance is also abject about what General Eisenhower's troops accomplished in Germany, after WW II. In both cases, American troops turned brutal dictatorships into modern, fully functional democracies, responsible for their own domestic and foreign policies. In both instances, it was more than four years after those nations surrendered, before they had elected, national governments and their own police forces.
Germany is the better example, because before it surrendered, the Nazis set up the werewolves, a group of young men dedicated to assassinations, bombings and sabotage, directed at both the occupying troops and "cooperative" Germans. The werewolves engaged in those tactics for two years. They were less active than the terrorists are in Iraq today. But in Germany there was not the problem of two hostile regimes on its borders, feeding men, supplies and money into the werewolves.
As for the importance of nation-building after the fall of a dictatorship, neither President Roosevelt nor Congress were keen on that after WW II. With winter approaching in 1945, Congress was stalling an appropriation for food and building supplies for Japanese civilians. General MacArthur sent them a telegram which said, "Send me food, or send me bullets." He knew that without that civilian help, the Japanese would engage in renewed fighting.
MacArthur understood what the American commanders in Iraq understand today. Military control is not enough. Nation-building is not an optiion, it is a necessity. Both must exist at the same time, or both will fail.
Former Congressman Kasich was either too ill-prepared or too slow at the switch to challenge Murtha's factual falsehood on the spot. It remains to be seen, as this interview circulates to other news media, whether other members of the press will take a history book down from the shelf, read a few pages, and then publish or broadcast the facts that show that Murtha's latest statement is just plain bone-headedly wrong.