"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."~~Dante
Okay. Let's talk about troops. Everybody's doing it. We're bombarded round-the-clock with "support the troops...fund the troops...bring the troops home...surge the troops...use the troops for Commander Guy photo opps..." Congress is embroiled in a ghoulish "troop" food fight that has gone on far too long. Democrats say Republicans demoralize and dishonor the troops by sending them into an unwinnable war built on lies. Republicans counter that, by suggesting the war is lost, Democrats demoralize and dishonor the troops by calling them "losers."
Killing the Troops
On Armed Forces Day, May 19, eight soldiers were blown to bits by roadside bombs in Iraq -- a total of 15 for the weekend, which brought the casualty toll since the March 2003 invasion to 3,419. As the troops lay dead and dying, body parts scattered amidst the explosive ruin in a foreign land, their president took to the airwaves to somberly discuss...how to make life easier for illegal immigrants here at home. Less than a week later, as Bush and the press were bobbing and weaving in the Rose Garden, the number of dead troops rose to 3,432, a day later to 3,444 and, finally, on May 26 -- two days before Memorial day -- to 3,455.
That's 36 American men and women, most under the age of 30, lost in one week. Lost forever. On Memorial Day, as Bush yet again disgraced the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery with more babbling about how his will cannot be broken and the only way to honor the dead troops is to complete his "mish-shun," eight American troops were slain in a Baghdad roadside explosion, another in an explosion near Tahir, two perished in a helicopter crash, and five British troops were kidnapped. It's difficult to keep up, but the total now stands at 3,467. No, 3,471. No, 3,474. No, 3,480. No, 3,495.
Betraying the Troops
The surge has been quietly ongoing since then, in spite of angry shouts from the American people -- shouts that fell on deaf ears not only in the Oval Office, but throughout the Congress. House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid caved to Bush's demands, while vowing to come back in September and "hold the president to account." Reid announced with bowed head, "We will never, ever, ever, ever give in to this president." Then he gave in.
Sad. There is no honor in a nation whose leaders are given the power to choose life or death for their fellow citizens held captive in an illegal, treasonous, bloody occupation -- and choose death. What do you do after betraying those who elected you -- trusted you -- to stem the needless flow of American blood? Do you dash off to Greenland to check on the climate, or do you stand in the well of the Senate, eyes downcast, with your tail between your legs?
It doesn't matter. They knew what they were doing -- extending tours of duty from 12 months to 15 months, sending other troops back for second and third tours -- weary, wounded and disheartened. They had the purse strings, the Constitutional power, and the mandate of the American people to bring Bush's madness to a screeching halt -- to save the lives of those citizens he daily condemns to death.
They chose, instead, to back down. They chose to allow Bush -- as Texas commentator Jim Hightower said -- to stick the troops in another country's vicious civil war. "They're under attack from every direction by every faction, every hour of every day," Hightower wrote, "hit by car bombs, roadside bombs, chlorine bombs, IEDs, suicide bombs, rocket fire, mortar rounds, snipers, and assassins. There is no safety in Iraq."
The legislators who voted to fund Bush's folly until September were casting votes of betrayal. Nothing will change in September. A second surge, sans the initial fanfare, is underway that could double the number of troops in Iraq by December, bringing the total to more than 200,000. We can disregard December if we are to believe CNN Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre, who reported on Memorial Day that "no major troop reductions are planned until at least January 2009."
You'd think as a minimum, the top military brass and the troops' commander-in-chief would know at any given moment exactly how many lives were lost in their war. However, the only thing Bush knows is that he "grieves 'n mourns" for the heroes who "give their lives" for his mission. Numbers aren't important. What's important to Bush is that he "pre-shates" their sacrifice. And Pace, who monitors the number of gays wearing the hetro-military uniform, commented last week that we lost "nearly 3,000 Americans on 9-11," and then warned we are "getting close" to losing that many troops in Iraq.
Actually, Pete, we are losing three or more American men and women every single day. It's six months -- 180 days -- 540 dead troops until December. It's 18 months -- 545 days --1,635 dead troops until January 2009. How many days -- how many dead troops -- are there in a "few decades"? You do the math.
Supporting the Troops