Editorials | December 2005
|Our Ailing Nation|
Kato Ychrana - PVNN
When I joined the army almost 15 years ago I did it because of tradition, one that made me feel proud. In short I had confidence that the leadership appointed to lead our armed forces would use care and judgment in making the decision to send me and my comrades into harm's way. I would not have the same level of confidence today. Our country is ailing under this administration.
|If I were in the Army today I would want to ask why our leadership would sacrifice my life for the political and economic gain of Bush's cronies.|
In the rush to push their policies, instead of creating a coalition which would have made regime change easier, the administration hit the road to war, invading a country which did not pose a threat to our national security in the least bit, regardless of the 'evidence' that was invented by the warmakers on Capitol Hill. In starting this war we have alienated our allies and gotten into a situation with no clear end in sight. If I were in the Army today I would want to ask why our leadership would sacrifice my life for the political and economic gain of Bush's cronies. Why have so many people had to die or be horribly wounded so big oil companies and Halliburton can add more billions to their bottom line.
My brother, a doctor and lieutenant colonel in the US Army has lived a tradition similar to my own. He has served in Special Operations for many years, working in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq. He has two Bronze Stars, a Silver Star and three rows of other awards and medals. He almost had his head taken off by a rocket-propelled grenade near Tikrit, Iraq - about 3 months after George W. Bush announced that major fighting was over. "Mission accomplished," he pronounced in a staged media event aboard an aircraft carrier. My brother has two sons, one three and one five - they're proud of their dad, and like so many of the children of those who are currently serving, would have been devastated had he lost his life in a war that didn't need to happen. What mission would his death have accomplished?
I am a vocal opponent of the Bush Administration for many reasons. They basically represent to me the big lie that politics in Washington has become. They love to talk about national security, and fighting the 'War on Terror' but really they are the ones that are causing most of the terror in the hearts of Americans. Non-specific terror alerts, Yellow alerts, orange alerts, Gestapo-like law enforcement strategies, over 80,000 people being held and perhaps tortured throughout the world, these are the things that the America I grew up in would never have imagined would be the standard operating procedures for the 'freest country on Earth.' The fact is that we are no safer from evildoers now than we were when these people took office. We are, in fact breeding new terrorists, we are losing some of our most basic freedoms and we're probably more in need of a regime change than Iraq was when we chose to invade.
Now, if you're thinking I am soft on terrorism let me set you straight. I have actually fought the 'War on Terror.' I have kicked down doors and sent bad guys to meet Allah personally. If Osama Bin Laden or any of the other assholes that are out there posing some kind of threat were to find themselves in my crosshairs the first thought in my mind would be 'recoil' as the empty shell casing hit the floor. I hate terrorists and extremists. If it were up to me we would find the people responsible for 9/11 and let the families of the victims go at them with and tools.
Despite what Fox News would have you believe, we were kicking a lot of ass before Bush got the helm. The Clinton administration did a great job of rounding up bad guys and using our Special Operations capabilities and intelligence community very effectively. The US rolled up Al Q'aida operatives in more than 20 countries during Clinton's time in office and the first group of terrorists to attempt to blow up the WTC are rotting in jail because of the effectiveness of Clinton's policies. Now what are we doing? Sending our soldiers to be cannon fodder and targets of opportunity for insurgents in Iraq.
Afghanistan, in my opinion, was both a victory and a failure. The people that live there live under severe threat from various factions that trade control back in forth depending on who has the money. After Russia left the Taliban just happened to be the biggest boys on the block and were quite sympathetic to Al Q'aida and just about anyone else who hated light-skinned westerners. They also had a lot of support from Bin Laden during the Russian invasion and became a likely breeding ground for Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists. When we started operating against Al Q'aida there during the 90's it was, as it is today a very dangerous place to be. Just about anywhere at any time friends could turn to enemies and you could find yourself dodging mortars, RPG's and small arms fire.
Until Kara was appointed as their leader the Afghanis never really had anything resembling a stable central government. They operated in a tribal manner and followed a sketchy rule of law based largely on Islam. The situation is more stable than it was when we went in, but the country is still like the old west with AK-47 and a cash crop of opium. The place is a hellhole, even worse than Pakistan and it's not a whole lot better than when we went in, with the exception of the fact that the Taliban is largely hobbled.
There are other wars too, but you don't hear about them. Since President Kennedy started giving the Special Operations community the attention and resources they needed we have had boots on the ground in 20-30 countries at all times. The Middle East, Asia, Eastern Europe and South America all have hot spots where at times it becomes necessary to either fight or train others to do so. Soldiers have never had a problem with doing their job, that's why we volunteer, and America can be proud of what goes on behind the scenes for the most part. The big problem though is that leadership should use out military as a last resort, when all other options have been exhausted and that's not what they've done where Iraq is concerned, we had other options.
Now the people that are in support of Bush really need to ask themselves why he lied to us. Where are the WMD's Mr. Bush? Hey Cheney, just exactly how the hell is Iraq related to September 11th? Why did you disgrace our country by falsifying the intelligence to accelerate the rush to war Mr. Rumsfeld? Before the war the administration said that Iraq posed no significant threat to it's neighbors and had no significant ability to produce nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, how did that change Condi?
This quagmire is not Bush's Viet Nam - it's bigger. During the Viet Nam era we did not lose out right to privacy and due process of law, we didn't get non-specific terror alerts, yeah we were lied to a lot, but not nearly as much as today. We were at that time, a free country, with allies that trusted and supported our efforts. Now we are scorned and laughed at globally. We have a two-term president that stole his office. We are hated by the very people that we're supposedly trying to liberate. There is more unemployment, starvation and death in Iraq now then there ever was during Saddam Hussein's 30 or so years in power.
The solution? There's no easy one. If we had a time machine we could all go back and halt the big rush to war, perhaps recount the 2000 ballots, but that's not going to happen. What I would do if I were a four-star general in command of the Iraq situation is do everything humanly possible to strengthen the internal security forces and infrastructure then section off Iraq into areas of operation where quick reaction forces could operate in support of the Iraqi's, then reduce our troop strength in such a way that it would not create a vacuuum of security. Unfortunately we cannot just pull out because the Sunni's and Shiites are about a breath away from civil war right now and the Kurds could still get their asses kicked without the security we are providing.
The people driving down the road in their SUV's with 'Support our troops' stickers should really think about what supporting our troops means. If you agree with sending them to die or be maimed to line the pockets of big oil and the other Bush Cronies like Halliburton then you're not supporting our troops at all. Their blood is on your hands. Think about it: Dick Cheney is the former CEO of the biggest contractor in Iraq, getting billions in no-bid contracts to rebuild the Iraqi infrastructure which mysteriously has yet to materialize. Think about that when you see a 25 year old man coming back from Iraq with no legs. If you really want to say that you support our troops then maybe you should do something to bring them home in one piece, breathing.
Bush can ignore Cindy Sheehan, his regime can continue to use Fox News as a 24 hour per day infomercial for their flawed policies and we can all buy little yellow ribbon stickers for our cars. But I, for one plan to demand change from my elected representatives, ask the questions that have gone unanswered since this whole mess started on that horrible Tuesday morning in September 2001 and make my voice heard. Anyone who enjoys the freedom granted by the generations who have worked and fought for it has the responsibility to defend it and ensure that the generations that follow get to enjoy the life liberty and pursuit of happiness that is America.