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How Far Must Johnny March?

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Lost in the debate over health care and in between Sarah Palin's speeches and right about the time the thriller stopped thrilling was Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announcing a "Temporary" expansion of the Army by 22,000 men. This temporary expansion is designed to take the strain off the Army. The Army has been growing all along and had reached 547,000 before this latest announcement. Some don't think that 22,000 are enough; Senator Joe Lieberman issued a position paper calling on the Army to expand by 30,000 troops.

When completed, by 2012 the United States will have an army of 569,000 men. But with 58,000 troops in Afghanistan and 130,000 troops still in Iraq, they just need more. Secretary Gates doesn't want to talk cost, but when does the military ever want to talk about cost? Gates uses the old rabbit out of the hat trick saying only that it would require "additional tough choices" without saying what these choices would be. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost of increasing the Army's size by 30,000 soldiers to be about $2 billion in 2011, $4 billion in 2012 and $2 billion in 2013, according to a report issued July 14.

Gates argues, "This is an important and necessary step to ensure that we continue to properly support the needs of commanders in the field, while providing relief for our current force and their families." The short version is we ain't got enough and need more and we'll find the money we'll always find the money for more soldiers.

Meanwhile, as Congress debates more funding for the Cash for Clunkers program, Congress is pressuring Obama and Gates to boost the size of the Afghan National army from 175,000 to 400,000. I guess you could call that the original cash for clunkers program. A few months back an army investigation reported that most of the weapons now in Taliban hands started out in the hands of the Afghan National Army. After eight years of training the force is barely capable of defending the capital. In Vietnam they had a saying, "Arvin by day, Cong by night," meaning that you couldn't always trust their loyalties.

I guess Afghanistan reminds me a lot of Vietnam by the way that it grinds on and on with no end in site, without even any metrics as to what would constitute victory. There is a ruling clique ensconced in the capital with a president who struts in robes and sashes while his crooked family members loot the treasury. And outside the capital is a place called reality, where the people are stuck in the middle of a stinking war between Taliban warlords and predator drone aircraft.

The Defense Department has already asked for $7.5 billion to train 134,000 more Afghan soldiers and 96,800 policemen for fiscal year 2010. Thank God we elected Obama, huh? No telling what McCain would be asking for. The only thing is that, I thought Obama heard what we were asking him for? We were asking for an end to this. I've seen all the LBJ dreams where victory is at hand, and you know what? I don't give a sh*t about victory because victory is but a day's headline, while death for a mother's son is permanent.

How is it the Taliban fighting against guided missiles and predator drones with spy satellites and helicopter gun ships can always fill their ranks? Where is the Taliban getting their $7.5 billion to train their troops? Is this a war of liberation or a war of subjugation or just a plain old-fashioned civil war? What are our goals here? What constitutes victory and how much blood will ever be enough?

I'm living in a nation that is laying off policemen, where city and state workers are being furloughed and forced to wait for the pay that they've already earned. A country that has billions for policemen, on the other side of the world, in a country that doesn't want us there and a country that doesn't matter to me one whit. It's a country with a long and storied history of fighting foreign invaders until they wise up and leave on their own.
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There comes a time when reality must seep into the argument, a time when the high water mark has been reached. Inside the Pentagon and the halls of Congress, there needs to resound the message that American mothers did not raise their children to fight and die in Afghanistan to free it from itself.

We are currently in the greatest economic malady in a century; we can no longer pretend to be the world's rich uncle. We can no longer ignore the needs our own people for the geopolitical desires of the Pentagon, the State Department, and Exxon. This will go on until we make them stop. The US was mired in Vietnam for a decade, and before the Pentagon's current plans come to fruition we will be in Afghanistan for a decade as well, with Iraq following right behind.

How far must Johnny march? How long will Johnny be gone? How many more flags will we need on Memorial Day? How many more hospital beds and prosthetic limbs? How many more jail cells for the Johnny's who come home with battle-damaged minds?

But don't you worry and don't you fret, your government will find the money for more soldiers. They'll debate cash for clunkers and they will rail about how healthcare reform will bankrupt the Treasury, but we'll find the money for war! As Secretary Gates put it, we need to make "additional tough choices." Will we fight permanent wars to achieve goals which profit the few while ignoring the many?

"In February and March, Obama pledged 17,000 additional U.S. ground troops and 4,000 trainers, all of whom will be on station by the end of September," said Major John Redfield, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command. "There are 63,000 U.S. troops and 40,500 non-U.S. NATO forces in Afghanistan, the highest number since the war to oust the Taliban regime began in 2001."
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The politicians will argue that if we were to leave the whole world would fall apart. I heard that story, too, when we left Vietnam, but it never happened. How far must Johnny march?


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I who am I? Born at the pinnacle of American prosperity to parents raised during the last great depression. I was the youngest child of the youngest children born almost between the generations and that in fact clouds and obscures who it is that I (more...)

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