Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Iraq

* 86 American soldiers killed in Iraq in December, 2006, as of Christmas Day

- I simply do not understand why Americans aren't raising all kinds of hell about the war in Iraq like we did back in the 60's and 70's about Vietnam. Most of us are opposed to the war. A large majority of us have decided it wasn't worth what we've had to give up in lives and dollars. We believe, collectively, that there is no way America can win anything that could be remotely called victory, unless you're looking at the situation from behind the Bush looking glass. We voted that way in November. But even electing a Democratic congress isn't going to end the war when the Commander-in-Chief is determined to fight on, even most likely, increasing the number of troops by at least 20,000 - this is called "surging", the media's new favorite word.

This war has had so many "last chances". In fact, in the blogs, a six-month period of time is called an F.U., for Friedman Unit, for the number of times the famed New York Times (this would be on the editorial page of the oh-so-liberal New York Times) columnist has said he thought the next six months was critical in Iraq. When that six months had passed without progress, he extended it for another six months and another. (Now his position is "10 months or 10 years" - either give it all we've got for 10 months and get out if there is no real improvement or be prepared to stay for the long haul). Generals have described a relatively short "window of opportunity" which has passed and passed again. Now, we are most likely (Bush will give us a speech about Iraq in January) going to surge in what has been described as one last chance to salvage Iraq. It is almost like, "well, okay, we have to give Bush his last shot." But I don't think we need to give him any more last shots or surges or F.U.'s. He's had all the opportunity he needed. His last chance could result in being the last day for lots of young Americans or maybe the last day they can walk or the last day they can see or the last day they can think.

Someone told me not long ago that he didn't feel sorry for the soldiers in Iraq because, after all, they are all volunteers and knew what they were getting into when they signed on the dotted line. But I don't think they did know what they were getting into. I don't think anyone ever expected that America would, for the first time, send the same soldiers into a theater of war for two and three and four tours. I don't think they expected that their country would initiate a "stop-loss" policy so that even when their commitment was over, the military could just say, "sorry, we're keeping you - off to Iraq you go - again." I don't think most National Guard soldiers thought that would end up giving over their lives and their families and their careers to practically a full-time military assignment. Maybe if they'd read the fine print, they would have realized all this was possible but even if they had, I doubt they would have thought their country would really do this to them.

Now Bush wants to increase the size of the Army and Marines. Maybe this is a good idea but I don't see how he's going to do it. Already all the Armed Forces have lowered their standards for recruits in order to meet their goals. They raised the age limit and lowered the educational level and allowed minor criminal records that wouldn't have passed muster several years ago. And if it wasn't for Iraq, would this be considered necessary? Afghanistan was the righteous war and I expect we'd have plenty of soldiers to send there if Iraq wasn't sucking up all the resources in both manpower (I don't know the pc term for manpower - man/woman power? body power?) and material.

As it is, we spend more on our military than the next 20 countries in the world combined!
So it isn't like we nationally stingy with our tax dollars. But nothing is ever enough for Bush. He is now going to ask Congress for another roughly $100 billion for Iraq. This is on top of the $70 billion already approved for 2007. So I say, Congress should say no to the president. No to a surge. No to billions more dollars. I think they should simply say that Americans gave him almost 4 years and it hasn't worked out and now they want their kids brought home. I think they should tell him, "game over, Mr. President. You lose."

And if they don't, I believe the American people should once again put on their walking shoes and take to the streets.