Saturday, March 1, 2008

George Washington on the conduct of the Iraq War

The Washington Post Op-Ed by Brian O'Malley discusses the text of two letters from George Washington, to Col. Benedict Arnold who led the Campaign against Canada in 1775, in what O'Malley labelled as "America's first preemptive war". One of the letters lists five specific recommendations to the campaign military leader. If you have not had a lot of affection for George Washington already, reading those recommendations will do it for you.
Read the following excerpts form the letters, then check the full text, and the analysis by the Op-ed author.
  • "You are by every means in your power to endeavour to discover the real sentiments of the Canadians towards our cause, and particularly as to this expedition; ever bearing in mind that if they are averse to it, and will not co-operate, or at least willingly acquiesce, it must fail of success.
  • The safety of American personnel depended on how they treated people. "... not only the Good of their Country and their Honour, but their Safety depends upon the Treatment of these People."
  • "Any other Prisoners who may fall into your Hands, you will treat with as much Humanity and kindness, as may be consistent with your own Safety and the publick Interest."
  • "Should any American Soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any Canadian or Indian, in his Person or Property," Washington wrote, "I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary Punishment as the Enormity of the Crime may require." And, "Should it extend to Death itself it will not be disproportional to its Guilt, at such a Time and in such a Cause."
  • an finally, "As the Contempt of the Religion of a Country by ridiculing any of its Ceremonies or affronting its Ministers or Votaries, has ever been deeply resented, you are to be particularly careful to restrain every Officer and Soldier from such Imprudence and Folly and to punish every Instance of it."
In 1775, that was the standard of conduct expected from our Armed forces.
And 230 years later , three quarters of a trillion dollars and with no end in sight for the Iraq war, we are in a quagmire thanks to the violation of each and every one of that beautiful piece of timeless advice.

On the Washington post - if you are a WP registered user.
Or for open access you can read the full test of the op-ed On Mountain Runner

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