Jim Jones, John McCain . . . same song, different choir.
This wends its way to an encouraging, angry outburst by Republican Senator George Voinovich in front of General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. But first I get my say.
From so many perspectives — I even try to pretend to be viewing things as from a telescope located in a galaxy far, far away — I worry for my country; what it has become, what it is becoming, where the hell (actual ‘hell,’not some employment of slang) we’re headed, why, and whether there is any real chance to change the direction.
As I strain to analyze the circumstances I feel I’m caught in some insane circular maze that Alice Through the Looking Glass lands me back pretty much in the same place. Study after study concludes that, by and large, as a population, the United States of America is the most poorly informed of all modern nations on the earth.
And utterly stupid! As a people we thrive on insipid; it’s all to titillation and to shedding as many vestiges of our hundreds of years trek since the Enlightenment as we can. Do not ask me to think, to think critically, or to sincerely value education. Tell me what I need to know. My child “passing” is esteemed as plenty good enough. Expecting him or her to excel academically is . . . “Well, ya know, it sure ain’t like scoring no touchdown. Now there’s an accomplishment!”
One recent study demonstrated that America’s high school seniors flat out flunked basic econ, got an “F.” And unless you go to vapid Jay-Walking (Jay Leno’s man-on-the-street segments), few questions more intense than Grant’s Tomb reflect a tragic ignorance of US history. Don’t even ask regarding world history. However anecdotal evidence ought never to be regarded as worth much, my acquaintance with adults suggest they’re no better than their kids when it comes to basic econ principles or history. Unlike their kids, however, it’s much, much more grievous because adults do not have the ready excuses of youth, and they don’t seem to care that they know little to nothing.
What feeds our individual psychological health is accomplishment via the vicarious. “I” don’t necessarily have to succeed, or even try. It’s enough if I can align myself psychologically with that which did succeed. “I” am by that association an incremental component of “we,” as in “we won.” I don’t have to do a thing more than mentally draw the association. It’s easy, and thereby so much to be the preferred mode. Whether it’s a sporting event or a war is irrelevant. “We won” means “I won.” And boy! am I entitled. So, “do not dare disappoint me. You owe me!”
It’s an attitude thing. And our collective attitude sucks.
This week General David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker made their star appearances before respective Senate and House hearing committees.
One Democratic congressman parried those considerations that had obtained the primary focus of earlier House committee questions and responses as well as those of the previous day’s senate hearings: whether and to what extent the US is “winning,” whether and when — if ever, or within the lifetime of anyone now alive in the United States — the US will depart with “honor,” etc. The scathing was entirely to the brutality we are presently visiting on our volunteer combat soldiers and marines; the lengthy and frequent deployments and redeployments that have ravaged the emotional and psychological reserves of those brave men and women; the savaging that has resulted in higher than previous rates of divorce, depression, homelessness, unemployment, and suicide.
And as I listened, the callous choir’s chorus beat on my eardrums: “You owe me! I demand ‘victory’ and ‘honor!’”
In my soul I truly do not believe that those who opine steadfastly to “support the troops” give even the first damn for them. Rather, those otherwise timid wretches require first and foremost that they be provided that which they feel they are entitled to: ownership of the sense of glommed-on honor, and who must pay whatever price might become necessary to supply it is irrelevant. I genuinely hold that all other arguments are but rationalizations that provide cover for this malevolent notion of entitlement.
With this in mind, I’m going to go to the quick: the first concern of those who vociferously hark on “winning” and “honor” and the strategic cost to the United States of leaving prematurely, though none of those three are ever, ever defined. That first concern is to money and economic circumstance. “Winning” and “victory” and “honor” are all well and good, so long as I don’t have to pay anything to get them. So far I haven’t paid a cent.
Now hear Ohio Republican George Voinovich in Tuesday’s hearing. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UReH-u9Cj2k) (See also C-SPAN.org “Recent Programs;” Senate Foreign Relations Cmte Hearing (April 8, 2008))
“A lot of us pray, pray to the Holy Spirit, that somehow that you would be enlightened and make the right decisions there, and that the leaders in Iraq would be enlightened to understand this wonderful opportunity that we have given them, this great sacrifice of our over 4,000 troops lost, 28,000 coming home, half of them are going to be disabled the rest of their lives.
“But I have to say to you, if you look at the enormous costs that we have incurred, and will incur, I’ve got the CBO [nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office] numbers that say we will be between 1 trillion and 1 trillion, 7 hundred billion dollars if we gradually withdraw over this period of time, and all of this healthcare and all of this that’s connected with it, I think you all know that the Government Accountability Office said that it would be 12 to 13 billion per year to replace the lost, damaged and worn equipment for the duration of the war in Iraq. The Marine Corps estimated it would take 16 point 8 billion to reset its equipment. The National Guard said they’re going to need 22 billion dollars.