Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bearing The Burden Of War

Almost immediately after the fall of Baghdad and the ouster of the Hussein regime, concern about the troop strength authorized by the Bush Administration has been evident. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's vision of a transformed military, designed for quickness and flexibility, ran into immediate conflict with the Powell doctrine of overwhelming force. Given that Iraq didn't actually have the weaponry the Bush Administration claimed, the invasion itself was over quickly. A lack of preparation for the guerilla insurgency that followed has led to a mounting crisis in our all-volunteer military.

From Joe Baker at the Rock River Times:

Now, after one term of Bush playing commander-in-chief, military life is not better, but much worse. Nowhere is the strain on the system more apparent than in Iraq.


[T]oday’s all-volunteer force is composed of married personnel with children. The repeated long deployments are putting great stress on those marriages and families. Most active duty personnel are skilled in tasks valued in the civilian world, so there is strong incentive for them to leave the military.

Rumsfeld's response to the decline in interest in military service at home as been to resort to a program called "stop-loss" whereby active duty personnel in Iraq have their tours extended. It's somewhat strangely ionic that "stop-loss" is named after a financial tool for preventing commodity losses. "No blood for oil" indeed.

Further, studies done by Walter Reed Medical Center have shown that the war in Iraq is taking a heavy toll on the psychological well-being of our soldiers.

From Army News Service:

Soldiers deployed to the front lines of Iraq face a higher chance of developing post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental disorders than their counterparts in Afghanistan[.]


Eighteen percent of the Soldiers who responded to the survey questions after returning home from Iraq had PTSD, almost double the number, of Soldiers surveyed before deployment to Iraq.

Extended tours from the "stop-loss" program only exacerbate these problems.

What continues to be lost in all the macho blustering of the Bush Administration is respect for the men and women that are fighting this war. From the cocksure swagger of "Bring It On" to Bush's recent refusal to even discuss the idea of a time frame for bringing our men and women home demonstrates a profound disrespect for the institution that Bush and his cronies claim to hold in high esteem. Vice President Cheney has lately, with his strong advocacy for torture, joined President Bush in his reckless attempts to endanger our troops for their own political gain.

A gross insult has been leveled at those of us opposing the war, that somehow our patriotism just isn't strong enough nor our support of Americans in uniform steadfast enough. Utter garbage! We are the ones that opposed sending our soldiers off to die in an illegal invasion predicated on false pretense. We are the ones that decried the "stop-less" program and the lack of leadership after Abu Ghraib came to light. We are the ones doing our Constitutional duty by questioning the abuse of power by Bush and demanding accountability for the disaster unfolding in the Middle East. We are the ones begging for our soldiers to be brought home to their families where they belong, instead of off dying in a foreign land so that millions of couch-potato chickenhawks can get a vicarious thrill from watching the death and destruction on FoxNews. Yellow magnets stuck on a gas-guzzling SUV is not a sign of courage or patriotism.

It's time to call an end to this farce in the desert before even one more American or Iraqi dies. The war was a mistake predicated on lies and distortion. No matter how many press conference temper tantrums Bush throws, the reality on the ground is that Americans are dying in Iraq everyday.

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