The best defense is a good offense, and Bush sure got plenty of mileage out of that truism last Friday. He used Veterans’ Day as an opportunity
to attack opponents of the Iraqi war. He also pretended he was just horrified and insulted that anyone could have doubted his motives for the invasion.
He got so carried away with his attacks and pro-war rhetoric that he barely had time to mention anything about the millions of veterans who were supposed to be honored on this day. Bush continued his Karl Joseph Goebbels Rove tactic of equating criticism of the Iraqi war with “undermining and demoralizing” the troops. Referring to his critics, Bush said “these baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America’s will.”
You’d think that with the easy, cushy military “service” that Bush performed during the Vietnam war, he’d at least have some sympathy for those who didn’t get out of Vietnam or Iraq by begging Daddy to make a few phone calls. There but for the grace of his family connections…Again today,
just before leaving for an image-building trip to Asia (::smirks:: sometimes a comedy skit just writes itself), Bush got off another parting shot. He accused his critics of “sending mixed signals to our troops and the enemy. That is irresponsible.”
Meanwhile, whatever anyone thinks of the war in Iraq, one inescapable fact gets clearer every day: “The Army’s commitments have dangerously and rapidly expanded, while recruitment has plunged” according to the New York Times.
Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Operation Truth
is a former Army lieutenant who served in Iraq. He said soldiers “feel like they’re the only ones sacrificing.” Operation Truth is an advocacy group for service members and veterans. When Rieckhoff was asked what was happening with the Army, he said “the wheels are coming off.”
Rieckhoff also said soldiers are “starting to look around and say ‘you know, it’s me and my buddies over and over again, and everybody else is living life uninterrupted.’” It sure seems that way. Some people are getting killed or wounded in Iraq; others are living uninterrupted easy lives cruising along with
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Support Our Troops plastered all over their vehicles. It’s too easy to be a fierce devotee of the Iraqi war without making a single sacrifice for it. People who just give lip service to supporting the war are upstanding Patriotic Americans; veterans who question the war “hate America.” Go figure.
As the motto at Operation Yellow Elephant
goes: “It’s their war. Why aren’t they fighting it?”
Rieckhoff also said “As sustained combat in Iraq makes it harder than ever to fill the ranks of the all-volunteer force, newly released Pentagon demographic data show that the military is leaning heavily for recruits in economically depressed rural areas where youths’ need for jobs may outweigh the risks of going to war.”
And don’t forget the ever-rising maximum age for enlisting — currently 39 and climbing. At some point, retirees might be spending their golden years fighting in Iraq instead of working at McDonalds.
Operation Truth released a statement responding to Bush’s Veterans’ Day speech:
“On Veterans’ Day, the President spoke a lot about the reasons for the war in Iraq, but very little about how he plans to take care of the people fighting that war, and what the future holds for them. Those of us who fought in Iraq deserve to know why we became Veterans in the first place. On today of all days there should be consensus on the need to rise above partisan bickering over who said what in Washington and begin real investigations into prewar intelligence. It’s unfortunate that the President doesn’t think he owes that to the people who have been unwavering in their bravery while carrying out his plans.”
We’re all too familiar with the disgraceful scandals over the past year: insufficient supplies (and inferior quality) of bullets and body armor; shortages of armored vehicles (with the manufacturer responding that they were never asked by the Pentagon to increase production); Rumsfeld dismissing a soldier’s question with “you go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had,” etc. There’s been too much of a disconnect between those who support this war — with rhetoric but no action — and those who are doing the fighting and dying.
Blind “patriotism” and character assassination of opponents are not the answer. There have been too many divisive slogans and talking points: “you’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists,” “you can’t be against the war and
support the troops,” people who criticize the war are “demoralizing our troops” and “aiding and abetting the enemy,” etc.
The Bush Administration may or may not be guilty of manipulating pre-war intelligence, but when Congressional Republicans keep thwarting any and all attempts to investigate, they look like they’re hiding something. Almost three years ago this war was supposed to be a cakewalk that would only last a few weeks at the most, and there would be no American casualties.WHAT HAPPENED????
Either the planners of this war are so stupid they’d get lost in a one-room apartment, or the Iraqi invasion was part of a Neocon master plan that had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction or bringing democracy to Iraq. Which is it?
We need to find out how our “intelligence” and predictions could have been so wrong, and how to prevent fuckups like this from ever happening again. We need to be sure our troops have all the equipment they need while they’re over there and
all the support they’ll need when they come back.
Last summer Operation Truth ran a full page newspaper ad urging Bush to ensure funding for veterans’ benefits. The ad was titled “Mr. President, you’re either with us or against us.”
cross-posted at Bring It On!