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Bucking Up Our Soldiers for the Ideological Occupation

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Message Ron Fullwood
Reports are that the generals in Iraq want to "surge" forward and escalate the Iraq occupation by deploying as many as 20,000 new American combat forces to 150,000 bogged down there today. General John Abizaid, in charge of the US Central Command had reportedly resisted the introduction of new troops, but now it appears his exit will make way for a new commander who'll be on board with the growing consensus in the Bush regime to push forward to "win" the occupation.

Instead of laying the groundwork for an exit as the American public demanded in the last election as they took down the republican legislative majority, Bush is determined to push forward with his costly fiasco. After visiting the maimed soldiers in a cynical round of his cheerleading of his handiwork at Walter Reed days before Christmas, Bush will meet with his new defense chief, Gates, on Saturday, who will give him the news that he's got the generals in line to continue his dirty occupation.

As Bush thanks the troops this weekend, at Walter Reed and in his radio address, for enduring his crusades, his inner ego is busy crafting a cover story to allow him to slip more troops into Iraq. He'll tell us all, in a little while, how he and his handpicked generals know better than the American people about what our nation's priorities should be in Iraq and in the Mideast. This will be the same shuffle of losers who sold us this illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq, and the same bunch who have kept our soldiers bogged down there, fighting and dying against the very Iraqis Bush claims we are defending.

It's really no surprise that the generals opted for more forces to bolster the over-extended contingent left to survive Bush's mindless "ideological war," as they are strung-out and beleaguered defending the unpopular Iraqi regime they helped install. The almost 3,000 U.S. soldiers who've been killed in Iraq alone are testimony enough to the merit of a larger protection force, if just to defend themselves until Bush can be forced to bring them home. Five U.S. soldiers were killed just today in Iraq, seventy-six killed just this month alone. How many more will be sacrificed?

Unfortunately, outside of their provocative, muckraking raids where their missions invite confrontation, our troops are just targets for whatever reprisals result from their fighting on one side of the multi-fronted civil war. The steady influx of weapons and the proliferation of combatants into Iraq by the U.S. is fueling and encouraging the violence, rather than suppressing it as it is assumed whenever the generals mass their forces in one area or the other in Iraq. Wherever our troops are built-up, there is a predictable decrease in violence, but, there is an effect like water displaced - the combatants disperse and scatter, only to return when our forces leave.

Unless we are prepared to mother Iraq indefinitely, we will never be able to effectively contain the resisting citizens as they struggle for power, influence, and survival in their own country with our military. Our soldiers deserve better than to be used as pawns in this cynical game of dominance. We will never own Iraq, no matter how long Bush leaves our soldiers there to pretend.

"We owe them all we can give them, not only for when they're in harm's way, but when they come home to help them adjust if they have wounds, or help them adjust after their time in service," Bush said after his visit with the soldiers that he allowed to be maimed in Iraq.

"Every time I come to Walter Reed, I am moved by the courage and bravery of the people I meet," he said.

Heavens knows, these soldiers need all of the praise and encouragement they can get from our nation and its citizens. But, they don't need a patronizing bucking-up from a leader who has refused to listen to the voices of his constituents arguing for an end to the need for any further sacrifices in Iraq from these men and women who serve.

These soldiers are at the point of Bush's politics. They are the instruments of his militarism. But, they are meant to be the backbone of our nation's defenses, not Bush's personal mercenaries for him to flail around like there's no tomorrow. That's what makes the verdict of the last election so important as we watch Bush move forward in Iraq instead of reversing course as the American voters demanded. It's our choice, not Bush's alone, whether or not to have our soldiers stay and fight for Iraqis and their government. Americans couldn't have been more clear about that choice. They demanded a new course in Iraq, not a way forward as Bush is engineering.

No 'thinking tour'; no fact-finding farce; no shuffling of the generals in Iraq will be enough cover for Bush as he prepares to choose escalation over an exit. No window-dressing; no strategery; no presidential directive will be enough for Bush to hide from his flaunting of the will of the American people to posture behind the sacrifices of our soldiers in Iraq.

It would be better if none of our troops encouraged Bush to continue, but it happens. No one wants to be sent to fight and die for no purpose at all, with no expectation of achieving anything. Yet, that's what Bush has charged them with as he keeps them hunkered down in Iraq to deny the suspected terrorists (that he allowed to escape in Afghanistan) a parcel of the Iraqi sand. The terrorists are just fine where they are, directing and encouraging their own followers to throw themselves against the soldiers Bush is willing to catapult in their direction.

Bush calls his occupation of Iraq part of an "ideological war," as if our soldiers, themselves, had some zealous fervor driving them to convert Iraq and the region to their own ideal through the force of their arms and their humanity. You ask yourself, what fool wouldn't realize that you can't defeat an "ideology" with an army . . . especially not with soldiers bogged down in the middle of a civil war?

To our dismay, that fool is the very fellow planning to ask Congress for even more soldiers to fuel his unquenchable militarism. Our ideological warrior won't be finished in Iraq until he's forced by Congress to give it up and bring our troops home. In the meantime, with our new Democratic majority home for Christmas, Bush is free to shuffle his generals around, cajole our suffering soldiers, and dream of further conquests.

However, if the next strategy he comes up with after 'listening' and 'deciding' turns out to be more of the same, stay-the-course wrapped in a pretty bow, Bush and his regime should be forcefully reminded by our representatives precisely whose pleasure they serve under.
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Ron Fullwood, is an activist from Columbia, Md. and the author of the book 'Power of Mischief' : Military Industry Executives are Making Bush Policy and the Country is Paying the Price
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