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Send Barney and Miss Beazley

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Not long after my nephew's arrival in Iraq, he called my brother and said, "I was ordered to check out a trash bag on the side of the road. As I approached it, I wondered if I was going to die--if it might be a bomb?"

When my brother told me, he was angry and more worried than ever. "You'd think they'd use bomb-sniffing dogs for that."

Of course, we've always believed that as the wealthiest nation, our military would be outfitted with the most sophisticated equipment. Certainly, by now, we've been disabused of this trust. Troops have complained. Some have even refused to follow orders because they don't have what they need to survive. The cost of replacing or repairing just the Army's equipment is staggering. Guardsmen don't have some of the basics like night-vision goggles and boots. Forget state of the art. This Administration has sent our military into war with alarming shortages.

Remember the chilling words out of the mouth of the rumored soon-to-be-defunct Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: "As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time."

Seems Rummy has a problem with many of his statements. Last week, he announced we will draw down the troops within months. But now that the violence has intensified after a brief lull during the election, this may not happen.

George Bush said he felt "joy" as all those Iraqis voted. Certainly, though, it doesn't look like Iraq will be unified or that women's rights will expand.

To those who still support this war I often ask the question: "Would you try to talk your child out of entering the armed services?"

Almost always, the answer is an unfaltering "yes."

Sometimes, if I'm talking with a young adult who supports the mission, I ask if he or she would consent to joining the fight in Iraq. Usually, the answer is much like Dick Cheney's response to his absence from Vietnam: "Other priorities." Then, the person I'm questioning goes on to explain that he or she would indeed sign up--if there weren't more important things in their life that needed to be done.

"You mean like breathing?" I say.

I don't know if they get my point that it's wrong to advocate that others make the sacrifice unless we ourselves are willing to go or send our own children.

Recently, my tactics have changed.

I talked with a young man who's married and childless but has a beloved dog. "Would you agree to send your pet to Iraq to sniff out bombs?"

He seemed stunned by my question and said, "No." But he supports the war. He can't bring himself to criticize Bush for invading Iraq long after he knows that no WMD were found and that Saddam was not responsible for the events of 9/11. Of course, he's never once considered heading over to the recruitment office. That's a job for OTHERS--all those who are struggling with growing up and need the discipline of the military to make them men and women. Or it's for people who can't afford an education and rely on the GI Bill when they return. If they return.

I'd like to get the ear of President Bush and ask him if he'd volunteer the services in Iraq of Barney and Miss Beazley. I'm willing to bet they'd never serve this "noble cause" their owner has foisted on the world.

But, if there were a doggy draft and George W. were too embarrassed to send his Scottish terriers to some safe military haven, like Alabama, and they, actually, deployed to Iraq, I'm certain Barney and Miss Beazley would have the best equipment money could buy.
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Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She's written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she's a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a (more...)
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