11/28/2005: If the Mess in Mesopotamia is going so well....
I'm back from Thanksgiving with my wife's family and I've got some first-hand feedback from the troops on Iraq, leaving Iraq, and Murtha. You see, my wife is a former military officer and her brother is an active-duty Major, decorated Army Ranger, and West Point graduate with more than 15 years in and about to ship out to Afghanistan. My wife is a good liberal on military issues, while my brother-in-law has always been a thoughtful and nice guy, but very conservative, especially on military issues. We've always gotten along well and been very respectful of each other, but totally disagreed on Republicans and military issues.I was especially interested in that last comment. If, as the bAdministration would like us to believe, the war is going so well, it seems to me that the troops over there would be so well satisfied by the good job that they knew they were doing that no kvetching on the home front could pose as serious threat of demoralization. That the bAdministration is claiming that such debate undercuts troop morale suggests to me that they're looking for a scapegoat. Perhaps to shoulder the blame for their eventual pullout before the midterm elections?
My brother-in-law thinks that Murtha is 100% right and that we should pull back in Iraq to forward operating bases in Kuwait, if not leave entirely. Even more interesting, my brother-in-law says that ALL of his officer friends in his real front-line outfit and around the military agree as well.
My brother-in-law is a gregarious, well-connected guy and literally has hundreds of well placed friends at the rank of Major and above. He says that ALL of his miltiary friends feel Iraq is a "mistake" and a "meatgrinder" that serves no purpose anymore if it ever did.
They would all be perfectly willing to serve and even die there if some good might come of it, but they all see that it makes no sense at this point. (My brother-in-law is no pacifist. He fought in Somalia and Haiti and killed several people there. He thought both missions were important and the right thing to do).
Apparently, one key thing that has really pissed off my brother-in-law and his friends is that young guys like them are being thrown into the position of making foreign policy on the ground. He said that his buddies around his level are being given entire towns to run in Iraq and essentially told to make up what to do. From what he hears, there basically is no overall strategy, just a bunch of LTs, CPTs, and Majors making it up as they go. My brother-in-law gave as an example the officer indicted for lying about his men tossing some Iraqis off a bridge. He knows the guy well and said he was just hung out to dry. The guy was caught between trying to figure out how to pacify the Iraqi town, keep his guys alive, and avoid international incidents. At the end of the day, he put his guys first, did the best he reasonably could, and still got screwed for it.
He also is outraged that Bush has asked the country to do nothing and downplayed the war effort that Bush claims is somehow so important. We compared what FDR did during WWII to mobilize the country to Bush's tax cuts and how the papers cover Iraq on page 20 these days. We agreed that if Bush really believes in this war, he should have and still should declare total war, pull out all the stops to get the right equipment there, reinstate the draft, raise taxes, or whatever else is needed to get the job done. Instead, Bush gives a speech here and there and essentially expects everyone to forget about the war and go shopping. He said that this is 100% Bush's fault.
My brother-in-law laughed off as ludicrous the claim that troops are somehow undercut by people debating the usefulness of their mission and questioning whether to pull out of Iraq.
Len on 11.28.05 @ 12:51 PM CST