Friday, March 12, 2004

war is peace. freedom is slavery. bullshit is still bullshit.

Each day it becomes more clear that President Bush is not making this country any safer. More clear, that is, to the people who didn't figure it out years ago. It has been a pretty sad couple of years, watching people waving their flags and praising Bush's presidential skills while he's led us from record surplus to record deficit, from record productivity to record unemployment, and from the sort of support we received after our buildings were toppled to the sort of scorned embarrassment we've become in the eyes of the world. To give credit where it is due, Bush's presidency has remained true to his assertion that he is "a uniter, not a divider" - never before in the history of our democracy have the poor and the wealthy been so united in their support of the wealthy. Bush's ability and willingness to capitalize on fear to further this economic and political agenda will be the lasting legacy of his Presidency.

But it doesn't stop there, because Bush is not just President. As Commander-In-Chief of the US armed forces, he has some pretty serious responsibilities to the world, the American people, and most importantly to the troops. He's made it pretty clear that he doesn't care what the world thinks, alienating former (and more importantly, possible future) allies. It can't be any more clear that he doesn't care what the US citizens think... he seems to regard us (as in 'We the People') as a nuisance, prefering the simpler and oh-so-much-more-rewarding task of simply serving his daddy's rich buddies. And he's shown reckless disregard for the well-being of our troops, placing them unnecessarily in harm's way then telling the terrorists to 'bring it on'. Now Bush is further violating the trust our soldiers have placed in him by making them mandatory 'volunteers' for additional tours of duty in places we should have already left and for which we have no exit strategy... in his defense, perhaps keeping them in the military is his way of making up for the fact that his cuts to the VA budget will leave many of these people without adequate health care when their tours of duty end?

The Army is spread so thin around the globe that when it needs fresh combat troops for Iraq this fall it will have little choice but to call on the same soldiers who led the charge into Baghdad last spring. The 3rd Infantry Division already has been given an official "warning order" to prepare to return to Iraq as soon as Thanksgiving. When those soldiers flew home from Iraq last summer to their bases in Georgia, few of them could have known they were, in effect, on a roundtrip ticket.

They are not alone in facing back-to-back deployments to Iraq. Some of the same Marines who teamed up with the 3rd Infantry to topple Baghdad are already assembling again in Kuwait, only a matter of months after returning home, and more Marines will go next year.

When the Saddam Hussein government collapsed, U.S. troops in Iraq figured the war was over, except for some mopping up. But as the acting secretary of the Army, Les Brownlee, acknowledged to Congress last week, "we simply were not prepared" for the insurgency that developed in early summer, prolonging the war and taking the lives of hundreds of American soldiers.

Retired General Gordon Sullivan, who recently visited U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait, acknowledged that sending war veterans back for a second tour of duty means the Army is stretched tighter than it has been in decades. "Loosely, in a historical perspective, it's not dissimilar to what you saw in World War II in Europe," he said in an interview. "We're just going to keep using them."

The Army has 10 active-duty divisions, and parts or all of each have been in Iraq or Afghanistan or are heading there this spring.

All right, so maybe you believe Bush is a blazing torch of freedom and democracy... but has it occured to you that a blazing torch might not be the best tool for dealing with the powder-keg of hostility in the Middle East? If you "support our troops", support keeping them away from unnecessary harm.