From the New York Daily News, commentary from Chris Matthews: "Attack Iraq? No"
Occcasionally, he does get it right:
The American people are not committed to a U.S. invasion of Iraq. Vice President Cheney's staff is. The White House speechwriting office is. The guys they're working under are.
But what about the families of those who will do the fighting? What about the country that will suffer the casualties and bitterness that are the wreckage of every war? A new Washington Post/ABC poll finds that 57% of us back a ground attack on Baghdad. But that's if there are no significant casualties. Faced with that hard-to-ignore prospect, 51% oppose it.
Is this a strong popular base from which to launch a preemptive attack on a country on the other side of the world? To send several hundred thousand servicepeople on a mission to take over a country, remove its political leadership from power and install one of our choosing?
It's time to recall the Powell doctrine of the 1980s. It's even more important to recall the two words that gave it historic resonance: Vietnam and Beirut.
With memories of those misconceived missions still fresh, then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and his chief military assistant, Gen. Colin Powell, drafted new criteria for overseas military involvement: War should be a last resort. It should be undertaken only in the presence of precise political and military goals with clear popular support from the public and Congress. There must be a clear exit strategy and an unhesitating will to deploy overwhelming force.
The great danger, Powell understood, lay in sending troops for a narrowly defined mission, only to see their role expand. The term is "mission creep."
So we drop tens of thousands of airborne into Baghdad. We lay siege to the government. We round up anyone who looks important. We face down snipers in the streets. We look for dictator Saddam Hussein. We wear gas masks to protect us from whatever chemical and biological weapons he has stockpiled. A threatened Israel mobilizes for war.
All this comes to pass against the backdrop of an Arab and Islamic world in riot.
Then comes the messy part. Our troops in Baghdad morph into a nervous constabulary force. Their mission: Guard the streets, shoot snipers, arrest the suspicious, keep order, find the Saddam loyalists, round up the members of his ruling party, root out plots, battle the terrorists.
For how long? How long were we in Beirut before that lame-brained mission ended with a barracks being blown sky-high by a suicide bomber? How long were we in Saigon before we gave up trying to decide where our mission was less popular: at home or in Vietnam?
This invasion of Iraq, if it goes off, will join the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, Desert One, Beirut and Somalia in the history of U.S. military catastrophes. What will set it apart for all time is the immense - and transparent - political stupidity.
A mission to attack an isolated enemy will isolate us. A mission justified by the fight with terrorism will give birth to millions of terrorist-supporting haters.