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The Tentacle


January 10, 2007

"A Message to Speaker Pelosi"

Kevin E. Dayhoff

Last Wednesday our nation witnessed an historic first when California Rep. Nancy Pelosi was elected to be the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Speaker Pelosi's ascendance to such an honorable and prestigious office in our nation is to be congratulated; and she is to be respected for the office she holds.

Now the hard part comes; actually doing something. And therein lies the devil in the details.

Boston Herald City Editor and Columnist Jules Crittenden said it best recently when he wrote, "We've arrived at a crossroads in history."

Mr. Crittenden's column concentrated on the choices in the war in Iraq in which he clearly delineated that we have no choice but to persevere.

For weeks the trial balloon has been floated that the president will announce the deployment of more troops to Iraq.

Later on this evening, the president will take to the airwaves and explain how he will guide our nation to carry-out the "adjustment" part of "engage, adapt and overcome."

And overcome we must; the consequences of not persevering are dire.

Some say "better late than never." Others hope that too late is not, well - too late.

It has been written that there are more police officers in Philadelphia than troops and police in Baghdad. Philadelphia is a city comparable in size, yet, nevertheless, smaller than Baghdad. Hopefully, it can be accepted that Philadelphia is safer than Baghdad.

Many want to compare the war in Iraq with the Vietnam War. Some comparisons are valid, some not.

Others want to say our military is overextended.

However, we can learn from another brutal - but long forgotten - conflict, the Philippine-American War from 1899 to 1913. We fought that war with 126,000 soldiers at a time when the population of the United States was 76.2 million - as compared to 140,000 troops in Iraq from today's population of 300 million.

Speaker Pelosi's response to what is being advanced as the president's plan to get the job done in Iraq is to say the Democratic Party-controlled Congress will investigate.

Investigate what - pray tell?

We're in the middle of a war and the speaker of the House wants to investigate and hints that denying the president the funds to continue the war is not off the table.

Will someone please break out a dusty copy of the Constitution and refresh the speaker's memory; she was elected to be the speaker of the House and not Commander-in-Chief of the military. Or as political commentator Amy Proctor put it, "Nancy Pelosi, tear down this gall," in reference to the speaker's delusional self-righteousness, self-importance and pomposity.

To deny the president and our troops, not to mention our national security, the resources to see this terrible war through would be nothing short of cataclysmic - and we will be the ones suffering the consequences of Speaker Pelosi's political jockeying for a 2008 presidential bid.

For those who are so anxious to compare the war in Iraq with the Vietnam War; remember this - best written by columnist Don Surber of the Charleston Daily Mail in his commentary on Mr. Crittenden's column: "The penalty for early withdrawal is cataclysmic. The Fall of Saigon led to two million deaths in Cambodia alone. Stopping short of Baghdad 16 years ago cost a quarter-million lives directly, plus whatever number of deaths they tag on to the Oil for Food scandal."

No, better yet, let's compare the speaker's pronouncements to "A Message to Whitehall."

In 1812, British troops under the command of the Duke of Wellington were slogging it out with the forces of Napoleon on the Iberian Peninsula. As the British approached Madrid in the late summer that year, the British Foreign Office in London decided it wanted to investigate an accounting of British war materiel being used in the effort.

Whether it is folklore or real is beyond the scope of this column; however, it has been said that the Duke replied to "Whitehall," a euphemism for the enormous British civil service which occupied vast offices on Whitehall Street, which stretches from Trafalgar Square to the Houses of Parliament, with the following:

"Gentlemen

"Whilst marching from Portugal to a position which commands the approach to Madrid and the French Forces, my officers have been diligently complying with your requests, which have been sent by H. M. ship from London to Lisbon and thence by dispatch rider to our Headquarters.

"We have enumerated our saddles, bridles, tents and tent poles, and all manner of sundry items for which his Majesty's Government holds me accountable. I have dispatched reports on the character, wit and spleen of every officer. Each item and every farthing has been accounted for, with two regrettable exceptions for which I beg your indulgence.

"Unfortunately, the sum of one shilling and ninepence remains unaccounted for in one infantry battalion's petty cash and there has been a hideous confusion as to the number of jars of raspberry jam issued to one cavalry regiment during a sand storm in western Spain. This reprehensible carelessness may be related to the pressure of circumstances, since we are at war with France, a fact which may come as a bit of a surprise to you gentlemen in Whitehall.

"This brings me to my present purpose, which is to request elucidation of my instructions from His Majesty's Government, so that I may better understand why I am dragging an army over these barren plains. I construe that perforce it must be one of two alternative duties, as given below. I shall pursue either one to the best of my ability, but I cannot do both:

"1. To train an army of uniformed British clerks in Spain for the benefit of the accountants and copy-boys in London, or, perchance

"2. To see that the forces of Napoleon are driven out of Spain.

"Your most obedient servant,

"WELLINGTON"

Almost two hundred years later, it could be the blueprint for a "Message to Speaker Pelosi."

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster: E-mail him at: kdayhoff@carr.org



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