Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Senators dither:

The NYT reports today that John McCain and Lindsay Graham along with other hawks are trying to derail the efforts of the majority of Democrats and a significant minority Republicans like Susan Collins, Chuck Hagel and John Warner from passing any resolutions, even nonbinding resolutions, that are directly critical of the administration's plans in Iraq. McCain and Graham, along with so-called "independent Democrat" Joe Lieberman, are "trying to enlist support for a resolution that would set benchmarks for the Iraqi government and describe the troop increase as a final chance for the United States to restore security in Baghdad." [Whatever that means.] Haven't we given al-Maliki benchmarks before? What happened with that oil revenue sharing agreement, anyway? Oh right, nothing. The Iraqi parliament can't even find a quorum on a good day, so I don't see how they would get around to meeting any of the required benchmarks.

The whole thing is a crock. The entire Senate is getting all worked up over a resolution that isn't going to stop anything and McCain and Graham and their fellow travelers are seriously living in la la land. People are dying! Our GIs are coming home in body bags at the rate of about 100 a month and the number of wounded is topping 50,500. This according to an article in the NYT yesterday, which reported that the Veterans Administration web site had posted the number of wounded at 50,508 but reduced that number to 21,649 when this "error" was discovered. The higher number includes all injuries caused by the war, not just those who were "wounded in action." Just as the DoD likes to keep the cost of the war off the books by sending "emergency" supplemental funding requests to Congress, they also like to cook the books by splitting hairs over what is and what is not a strictly war related injury.

If someone comes back from his or her second or third tour with PTSD or looses a leg in an accident, then obviously that's not an injury related to their service in Iraq or Afghanistan. It happened there and they're here dealing with it now, but they weren't wounded in action, so they're SOL. It would be nice if the media started publishing the actual cost of this war instead of playing the Pentagon's game. You never see the higher number in stories that mention the wounded. Never. By omitting the 25,000 extra people suffering as a result of their service to this country, the media does them a great disservice. But the omission does serve to hide the true cost of the war, which is why they do it, I guess. If the WaPo or the NYT were to actually show us the bloody truth about what's going on over there, then they'd be accused of being bias by the few remaining loud mouths that just won't admit they were wrong.

Like Frederick Kagan for instance, the architect of W.'s new surge plan. He told Marty Moss-Coane on WHYY's Radio Times yesterday that any criticism of placing 21,500 U.S. troops in the middle of a civil war was just "silly." 'Didn't we put troops in Bosnia and Kosovo,' he asked? Didn't that all work out just dandy?

Actually, as I remember it, we put troops into Bosnia only after we had bombed the competing sides into submission. Bill Clinton had all the sides over for some talks (actual diplomacy) and they agreed to work out their differences, while we provided security. But only after the fighting had stopped. And, in the case of Kosovo, if Bubba had lost one U.S. soldier in stopping Milosevic from ethnically cleansing every Albanian from Kosovo, Tom DeLay would have had him hung from the Washington monument with a noose fashioned out of Monica's stained blue dress. Ironically, today the people who condemned Clinton's squeamishness in spilling American blood are the very same folks hell bent on sacrificing as many young Americans as it takes to prove the plans they hatched in the comfortable confines of PNAC were right.

It is time for Congress and the media to stop listening to a small group of media savvy "intellectuals" with delusions of grandeur and begin to notice the tens of thousands of Americans who want this war to end. There are thousands of military family members actively lobbying Congress to bring their children home. There are thousands of active duty military people and National Guard troops openly calling for this insanity to end. 1,200 service members signed a petition of redress which was delivered to Congress recently. Service members are risking jail sentences to avoid going back to Iraq. General officers are speaking out. Even lowly dog faces are openly telling the media that the whole thing is a crock. I heard Pfc. Ryan Schmidt from Charlie Company of the 2nd Battalion, 136th Infantry on ATC last night, who had had a question answered by W. during Juan William's interview with him. In a follow u ppiece he was asked if had answered his question and he said:

"No, it did not answer my question. I would have liked to know more so that there will be a plan if this does not work. For some of us that are over here, particularly me, my unit, we all feel, what's the point of us being extended if your initial plan to send more troops over here does not work? What are you going to do, Mr. President?"

The mood of the nation is getting angrier and the all volunteer military is getting down right mutinous. These professionals will go wherever they're sent and do whatever has to be done, but they have to know that what they're risking their lives for is worth it. After four years of W.'s bullshit, they've had it. Trust, loyalty and respect is a two way street. W. has violated our trust and he's unnecessarily put our young people into harm's way. The Senate should quit wasting our time by debating nonbinding resolutions and get down to the business of curbing this president's power before he gets us into another war. It is the solemn duty of all members of Congress to obey the will of the people and the people are saying "enough is enough." Bring our troops home!


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