Friday :: Oct 28, 2005

We Have All Been Here Before


by pessimist

Hard on the heels of the macabre millstone (sic) of the 2000th military death in Iraq, I was disheartened to learn something about a situation developing to reduce the numbers of troops in Iraq. There have been recent reports that troop reductions could begin early next year, but what do I discover but that we are being had?


US forces in Iraq reach 161,000, highest level of the war

US forces in Iraq have swelled to 161,000, their highest level since the US invasion in March 2003, a Pentagon spokesman said. The increase was due to overlapping troop rotations, said Lawrence DiRita, the chief Pentagon spokesman.

Here's where we've been had:

Lieutenant General John Vines, the number two commander in Iraq, said in September that the numbers would rise for the October 15 constitutional referendum by only some 2,000 troops from a base level of 138,000.

I'm no Einstein, nor do I play one on the Broadway stages, but that number seems to be about 23,000 less than the numbers DiRita reports. He lets the strategy pig out of the Bu$hCo poke:

"For the next election, I wouldn't be surprised to see it go right back up to 160,000 based on puts and takes and in-place rotations and relief, and everything else," DiRita said.

What this means is that every time Bu$hCo increases the need for troops in Iraq, it will do so quietly, while trumpeting loudly each time they reduce the numbers - as if they were really bringing our fellow citizens home.

We've been here before, says columnist Anna Quindlen:

The Vietnam Memorial stands, in part, as a monument to blind incrementalism, to men who refused to stop, not because of wisdom but because of ego, because of the fear of looking weak. Not enough troops, not enough planning, no real understanding of the people or the power of the insurgency, dwindling public support.
The war in Iraq is a disaster in the image and likeness of its predecessor.

Oh, when will we ever learn? It's not like we don't know what is going on!

"In Vietnam we didn't have the lessons of Vietnam to guide us," says David Halberstam, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of that war. "In Iraq we did have those lessons. The tragedy is that we didn't pay attention to them."

As I am writing this, the number of American soldiers killed is 1,992. By the time you read it, it may have topped 2,000. Will I be writing these same things when the number is 3,000, 5,000, 10,000? If we are such a great nation, why are we utterly incapable of learning from our mistakes? America's sons and daughters are dying to protect the egos of those whose own children are safe at home. Again.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a tapering wall of black granite cut into the grass of Constitution Gardens. Maya Lin envisioned a scar when she designed it, a scar on this land, which is exactly right. Maybe someday his security detail could drive George W. Bush over to take a look. He'll be able to see himself in the reflective surface.

Only if he's got his eyes open. We already know that he closes them when he doesn't like what he sees. The sad part, he sells his 'vision' to others whose blindness is just as willful:

Like a preacher with Bible in hand, he keeps coming up with knew formulations of the struggle between good and evil. Strategically, we’re in a giant global game of Texas Hold ‘Em, and Bush, despite a hand that doesn’t look that strong, keeps shoving more chips into the pot. Now the war in Iraq has been elevated to the level of the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and the 20th century struggles against Nazism and Soviet Communism.

The American people have concluded that we were sold a bill of goods on the original rationale for the war: The weapons of mass destruction Saddam Hussein was about to loose on the world. Turns out, he didn’t have any. Now we need to “complete the mission” there because Iraq will be a failed state if we don’t.

But the president needs to be careful. In a war fought for and in the name of freedom, he doesn’t want to mimic, however inadvertently and superficially, the theatrical style of the tyrant we went to war to dethrone.

We have to remake the Middle East, not turn into it.

But due to incompetence and poor planning - such as not securing Saddam's aresenals so that there wouldn't be much weaponry to be used against US troops - the Middle East has become the Tar Baby for Br'er George's 'democratization' of Iraq.

Even having made many mistakes, however, there should be an improvement in the performance of Bu$hCo officials in the conduct of this illegal war. Certainly, because the general staffs of all militaries plan on fighting the previous war, expensive lessons have to be learned in order to fight the current one - one which isn't in the texbooks or war games through which generals learn their deadly craft. Someone or something is supposed to motivate the top officers to learn these lessons as quickly as possible in order to minimize losses. In our land, that role is supposed to be played by civilian
officials of the government, but it looks like they have been too busy looking out for Number One:

Much of the nation is mourning the more than 2,000 American G.I.'s lost to the war in Iraq. But some of the mindless Washington weasels who sent those brave and healthy warriors to their unnecessary doom have other things on their minds. They're scrambling about the capital, huddling frantically with lawyers, hoping that their habits of deception, which are a way of life with them, don't finally land them in a federal penitentiary.
You can spin it any way you want, but Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of Karl Rove, Scooter Libby et al. is ultimately about the monumentally conceived and relentlessly disseminated deceit that gave us the war that never should have happened.
Even Richard Nixon's cronies are crawling out of the woodwork to urge the Bush gang to stop the madness. In an article for Foreign Affairs magazine, former Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, now 83, says the administration needs to come up with a clearly defined exit strategy, and fast. But President Bush, who never gave the country a legitimate reason for going to war, and has never offered a coherent strategy for winning the war, seems in no hurry to figure out a way to exit the war.

Thousands upon thousands are suffering and dying in Iraq while, in Washington, incompetence continues its macabre marathon dance with incoherence. For the Iraqis, the toll is beyond hideous. Perhaps 30,000 dead, of which an estimated 10 percent have been children. The number of Iraqi wounded is anybody's guess.

In addition to the more than 2,000 dead, an additional 15,000 Americans have been wounded. Some of these men and women have sacrificed one, two and even three limbs. Some have been permanently blinded and others permanently paralyzed - some both. Some have been horribly burned.

This is what happens in war, which is why wars should only be fought when there is utterly and absolutely no alternative.

It's bad enough that 2000 US citizens died for Bu$hCo lies and deceitful goals of stealing another nation's assets. For them, the pain is ended.

But for the 15,000 injured cited above, they will have the rest of their lives to reflect upon why they were hurt so badly. If they could believe in the cause, they might find justification. But what if they are not treated properly by those for whom they sacrificed? Might they not turn upon the beneficiaries of their loss? Might they not be candidates to become Iraq's Ron Kovic?

One disabled reporter is quite concerned about the care our wounded are receiving:

Two thousand Americans have fallen in Iraq, but another 15,000 have been seriously injured, and the nation must not forget them and the challenges they face back home, a prominent wheelchair-bound newsman says.

"Iraq's legacy for health care will be the most important legacy of all," John Hockenberry, a correspondent on TV's Dateline, said this week at the annual Coleman Institute conference on Pioneering Cognitive Technologies.

The good news is that so many survived.

The bad news is that soldiers are coming home with more severe spine and brain injuries than ever before, to a nation that doesn't have the chronic-care infrastructure to care for them well, Hockenberry said.

"They're surviving with wounds never seen before," said Hockenberry, who became a paraplegic 30 years ago after an auto accident at 19. "Rehabilitation is an under-invested part of health care. Our investment in acute care has increased our need to invest in chronic care."

Funding for the VA facilities necessary to meet this need - while increased $1.9 billion from last year - is still about $1 billion dollars short of the need, which itself has grown 134% since 1996 while finding has only grown 44%.

One billion dollars works out to only five days coverage of the Oil Theft War expenses. If you the taxpayer want to see where your tax dollars are going, don't go look here - you'll likely hurt yourself! With the world's highest per capita medical costs in a land where more than 45 million Americans have no health insurance coverage and risk bankruptcy trying to pay for vital care for sickness or injury - and thanks to Bu$hCo's brand new corporate-sponsored bankruptcy law, that prospect is less likely than ever in modern times.

Every effort must be taken by partiotic Americans to ensure that what hospital beds remain are available for our returning wounded. So be a patriotic American and don't get sick or injured - no matter how unsafe and hazardous your workplace becomes.

[For all you good citizens of Florida, make sure you thank Jebba the Butt for that bright new gun law which blocks employers from banning weapons on their property. You wouldn't want to die on the job from a gun shot wound with that obligation unmet!]


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