Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bring Troops Home Now

Monroe Anderson of the Chicago Sun-Times gets it right. His column from 5.20.07 should be mandatory reading by everyone in DC and every person who still thinks there is any chance for a military victory in Iraq. He said everything that I have been thinking.

In November 2006, there was a guarded sense of optimism when the Democrats took over in Washington. The message we sent for them to end the war seemed clear to those of us who oppose the occupation in Iraq. When Congress took their seats in January, Nancy Pelosi came out roaring like a lion telling us they had heard our message and now it seems as if they really weren't listening at all as they back down to the president on the issue of funding the war.

Next Monday, on Memorial Day I will be standing in front of my only child's grave at Arlington National Cemetery marking the 3rd anniversary of his death (we were notified on Memorial Day 2004). 1 Lt Ken Ballard was the 89th soldier to be buried at Arlington from these wars and now 336 of this nation's finest rest forever in Section 60 at Arlington. Ken was 26 years old when he was killed. He had been in Iraq for 384 days. 4 men in Ken's unit were killed; all of them after they had been extended. They all should have been home.

My heart breaks with every new death and every new casualty. It seems as long as it is someone else's son or daughter in harm's way, it is easy for Congress to walk away from this important conversation that will end this war; afterall, there is campaigning to be done.

Bring troops home now

We're waist-deep in George W. Bush's nightmarish Middle East misadventure as the new, theoretically empowered Democrats are difficult to distinguish from the old, hamstrung Dems of a year ago. They're still too timid.

Rather than deftly acting to bring the troops home, the Democrats continue their eye-shifting and throat-clearing while the killing and dying go on and on. Last week, the new majority party yielded to the oxymoron argument that we have to support the troops by keeping them in the line of fire. The Feingold-Reid Iraq Bill that would have cut the funding and thereby forced the
president to bring the troops home was defeated Wednesday in the Senate. On a procedural vote, the proposal that would have cut off money for combat operations in Iraq after March 31 of next year fell 31 votes short of the number needed to advance, losing 29-67.

The bill was defeated even as three U.S. soldiers remain missing and the death toll in Iraq is rising. The bill was defeated even as our puppet Iraqi government continues with its plans for a two-month vacation while the American men and women serving in their country are getting three months added to their yearlong tours of duty. The bill was defeated even as reports of poor care at Walter Reed Hospital for the mounting number of wounded troops is barely yesterday's news.

The Americans who voted the Democrats into power have been let down. Instead of counting on the Democrats to deliver on their implicit promise to end the occupation, we continue to count the costs of not correcting Bush's calamitous course. Those costs have been enormous in human casualties and financial resources. More than 3,300 U.S. military killed and more than 25,000 wounded -- nearly 1,000 of those amputees. A minimum of 63,796, a maximum of 69,850 civilians have been killed, according to the Iraqi Body Count Web site. More than 400 billion U.S. taxpayer dollars squandered. And we're not getting much bang for our buck. Daily attacks in Iraq have fallen only slightly to 149 in April from 157 in March. Mortar rounds are now battering the Green Zone, Baghdad's last presumed safe refuge.

Last week's vote was a loss for Wisconsin's Sen. Russell Feingold and other Democrats who want to bring the Iraq occupation to a halt. But the undertaking forced Democratic presidential hopefuls, including Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, previously reluctant to limit war funding, to come out in favor of the measure. Unfortunately, 19 Dems couldn't or wouldn't heed the distress signal that the American electorate fired last November, joining 47 Republicans in the vote to end the occupation funding. Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, is one of those Democrats. He said he opposes any measure that cuts off money for the war because ''we don't want to send the message to the troops'' that Congress does not support them.

That argument -- made smugly by legislators sitting safely and serenely in Washington, D.C. -- is about as logic-defying as others buzz-worded by the incompetent and corrupt Bush administration. We know them by heart. They play well to our emotions but not as well when we step back to question them. For example, could it be that setting a deadline to bring the troops home benchmarks the end of Americans dying for a continuously changing cause? What job are we staying to get done? Why are we staying where we're not welcomed? How are we supposed to secretly withdraw our troops without the insurgents knowing we're leaving?

We shocked and awed our way into Iraq four years ago, so if Baghdad should become an al-Qaida stronghold, what's to stop us from shocking and awing the city again? If 6 million Jews, surrounded by more than 200 million Arabs, have not been annihilated, why do we believe that an Iraq withdrawal will lead to a pitched battle with invading terrorist forces on Main Street in Peoria?

And, one last question: How much American blood has to flow to drown out the civil war in Iraq or cut through the hollow patriotic sloganeering here at home?


libhom said...

Thank you for speaking out. I admire you so much.

GSMSO said...

Thanks, Libholm, for your kind words. It's hard to tell if I am more angry or feeling betrayed these days. When is Washington going to listen to us?

pogblog said...

When I read the remarkable Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, I realized that, like severe cataracts, ideology would blind this group until they're shunted off the stage on 01.20.09, 604 days from today. When God speaks privately to Mr. Bush, it's hard for the rest of us to get through.

I'm so grateful to you that you speak out so compellingly about the continuing horrors of the losses, the losses that will continue on the planet until we grok or deeply comprehend that War is Obsolete. I wish we could hear from all the devastated Iraq mothers too. I think it is the raw and unending horror of mothers that will eventually teach the world the fathomless stupidity of war as a way to do failed politics.

brainhell said...

i just heard you on the radio. i was only sure it was you when ken's full name was given.

pogblog said...

This Memorial Day Monday I went out on day 1692 with my Teach Peace sign & stood at Castro & El Camino in Mountain View, your & Ken's hometown. I thought of you both as the cars drove by, mostly waving.

I thought of all the Friday vigils by Mountain View Voices for Peace at this corner and the 3000 lights when that horrible mark was passed and how you bring that wonderful and unbearably sad poster of Ken and tell us your story so we are forced to know that each number is a person and many broken hearts,

I think of you in Arlington and the gruesome waste, the black holes in families. One day that this odious war ends sooner saves 3 families what you cannot be saved. I can only thank you for them tho they will never know all the visits to congresspeople you make, all the peace rallies you stir, all the local newspeople around the country you share your experience with so their communities can have reality rather than abstraction, all the comfort you give the other bereaved -- because even with a broken heart you are tough and funny and brook no bullshit.