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Pack of Dogs

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The 1954 classic movie, The Caine Mutiny, starring Humphrey Bogart, Fred MacMurray, Van Johnson, and José Ferrer, is a WWII tale of a paranoid-schizophrenic skipper (Bogart) of the USS Caine, an old mine sweeping vessel and of the crew’s decision to seize command of the vessel from its captain, Lt. Commander Phillip Francis Queeg. Throughout the movie, MacMurray, as Lt. Tom Keefer, strongly pushes First Officer (Van Johnson), Lt. Steve Maryk, to confront Queeg and to declare himself in charge of the Caine. But after Maryk replaces Queeg, and during the courts martial against the mutineers that ensues, Keefer (MacMurray) bails on Maryk, failing absolutely to back Van Johnson’s defense with testimony concerning Queeg’s mental instability.   


Sorry — the Republican senior senator from Virginia, John Warner, played MacMurray’s role to an inglorious ‘T’ when it came time to vote on the Webb amendment; S.Amdt. 2909 to H.R. 1585 (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008). The amendment’s Statement of Purpose was “To specify minimum periods between deployment of units and members of the Armed forces deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.”


Specifically, the objective of the amendment had a formal stated purpose and one that was not stated but was understood nonetheless. It has been stipulated within numerous independent reports that the US military has been stretched to the point that “No US Army unit is presently ‘combat ready,’ fully capable of deployment should a contingency arise wherein such deployment would be required.” As never in American history, and absolutely against all military tradition and standards, combat personnel and matériel have been extended repeatedly in theater such that their efficiency and efficacy as a fighting force have been severely depreciated and US national security seriously jeopardized as a consequence.


These conclusions are not those of or any other left-wing, pinko, America-bashing elements. These conclusions are those of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff, and every other right-wing leaning military study group! Human beings and machines simply cannot be run forever into the ground without engaging highly serious repercussions! Nonetheless, being run into the ground is precisely what’s been happening to them. The amendment sought to ameliorate this circumstance by mandating that troops could not be redeployed into theater without at least as much stateside rest and recovery time as was spent in theater. Furthermore, stateside troops would have to be trained to combat-ready status for the mission they were to fulfill prior to deployment. As an army veteran from decades past, the amendment certainly made sense to me.


Of course, integrity also requires acknowledgment of the amendment’s unstated objective. And that is also where the reference to Senator Warner in the modern Fred MacMurray role obtains exquisite legitimacy.


Grinding any human being into the earth, for any reason, but most especially for no reason likely to produce a positive result, can never be reconciled with “support” of that person. But when that person is a volunteer member of the United States armed forces, protracted beating and grinding of that person down edges to criminal abuse. Anyone caught treating a drought animal that way would be subject to criminal prosecution for inhumane treatment of an animal. Thus there is no way such abusive treatment can be equated with “Supporting the troops!” And any effort to wrap oneself in the “Support the Troops” poncho, while insisting such abuse be writ de rigor, composes the most venal, moral degeneracy fathomable.

 (Parenthetically, 50% of all marriages end in divorce; the most pervasive justification for the divorce being “irreconcilable differences.” Without engaging statistics which I lack and have no desire to pursue, perhaps we can stipulate that at least a majority of those divorces began with an oath to God that the union would be to death it dost part the couple, not “irreconcilable differences.” That said, perhaps we can also stipulate that the dumpor contends, as justification for the court filing, somewhere downstream that “things had changed,” or that he [or she] found themselves in a situation they couldn’t possibly have fully understood at the moment of “I do.” But that union was solemnly entered into under the eyes of God! How can changed circumstances, or feelings, possibly be exculpatory given the oaths sworn to? Now, consider for just a moment on the likely strength of the military if those on their 3d and 4th combat tours in the oven of Iraq, features that, as a veteran, I can testify that those are aspects the recruiter never, ever alluded to, let alone described fully, so that I or any prospect could make an informed decision, wanted to extricate themselves from that circumstance, using the same rationale that we find the justification for termination of 50% of all marriages. However, while we have no problem accepting the one, we do not accept the other. Why is that? Is it fair? Is it even intellectually honest?)   

The other reason, the unstated rationale behind the amendment: Every recent independent report on conditions within Iraq agrees that 1.) the government of Iraq is wholly dysfunctional, 2.) the conditions within Iraq demonstrate no progress whatsoever towards a functional government, and 3.) that no number of American troops, for any estimable period will effect a positive condition within Iraq. The Democratic position and that of approximately 70% of Americans is that neither additional blood nor treasure ought to be further invested therefore. However neither anyone within the Bushmaster administration nor a sufficient number of GOP members in either legislative chamber agree with those sentiments. It’s “stay the course,” no matter it’s a peripatetic course leading nowhere except for never ending loss of blood and life and treasure.


For more than a year Senator Warner has been orating how “Iraq is sliding sideways,” that “the US needs to change the course,” that “the US needs a new strategy,” that “the administration’s strategy is no strategy at all,” and that we “need to commence a strategy for leaving Iraq” at “the earliest possible opportunity.” Those are what he’s been uttering. His vote on the Webb amendment infuses him solidly and sordidly within the body of The Caine Mutiny’s Lt. Keefer. 


Now, any law requires passage by the House of Representatives, passage by the Senate, and the president’s signature. The rules of the senate now necessitate a supermajority (60 votes) to obtain cloture and to bring a measure to the floor for a vote. If the president vetoes the legislated joint resolution, per Article I, Section 7 of the US Constitution, the measure shall be required to secure 2/3ds affirming votes from both houses to become law. 


Follows are those hollow souls, except for Lieberman (I-CT), all Republicans, who voted not to support the troops, but to abuse them further. It may be instructive to note that of the 44, only Graham, McCain, Stevens, & Warner swerved actively in the military.

Alexander (R-TN), Allard (R-CO), Barrasso (R-WY), Bennett (R-UT), Bond (R-MO), Brownback (R-KS), Bunning (R-KY), Burr (R-NC), Chambliss (R-GA), Coburn (R-OK), Cochran (R-MS), Corker (R-TN), Cornyn (R-TX), Craig (R-ID), Crapo (R-ID), DeMint (R-SC), Domenici (R-NM), Ensign (R-NV), Graham (R-SC), Grassley (R-IA), Gregg (R-NH), Hatch (R-UT), Hutchinson (R-TX), Inhofe (R-OK), Isakson (R-GA), Kyl (R-AZ), Lieberman (I-CT), Lott (R-MS), Lugar (R-IN), Martinez (R-FL), McCain (R-AZ), McConnell (R-KY), Murkowski (R-AK), Roberts (R-KS), Sessions (R-AL), Shelby (R-AL), Specter (R-PA), Stevens (R-AK), Thune (R-SD), Vitter (R-LA), Voinovich (R-OH), Warner (R-VA).


PLEASE . . . somehow, somewhere retain the record of this vote against America’s best. Several are up for reelection in 2008, and they’re going to try to squirrel out from under this vote. Let’s not permit them to evade the proof of where their hypocritical heart was when it counted most.

 — Ed Tubbs
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An "Old Army Vet" and liberal, qua liberal, with a passion for open inquiry in a neverending quest for truth unpoisoned by religious superstitions. Per Voltaire: "He who can lead you to believe an absurdity can lead you to commit an atrocity."
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