Tuesday, August 16, 2005

And Now it Begins

You know, I frequent many places on the Web, and read opinions that span the entire political spectrum. I read the World Socialist Website (take your pyramid hat if you go), Daily Kos, and the Democratic Underground (who booted me from the forums so fast you wouldn't flipping believe it) about as often as I read the Right Wing News, the Free Republic (who also booted me like I was a virus), and National Review Online. I also like the Mighty Middle, and a couple of others. I even--gasp--read Newsmax, but that requires special protective gear that makes my balls sweat, so I don't do it very often.

But it's the right side of the sphere that is carefully priming their readership for the excuses that will be deployed when troops are withdrawn from Iraq. We hear that the goals set for Iraq were...unlikely to be reachable, and that we will likely end up with an Islamic Republic. Assuming they can get the Constitution written, having missed the US imposed deadline, and given their seeming unwillingness to let the premier Democracy in the world guide them on its writing. Hell, even the world's most gifted military genius, Donald Rumsfeld (this Rowan Scarborough taking sycophancy to its completely insane conclusion), continues to equivocate here, then here, and had to listen to the Iraqi Prime Minister ask us to leave.

What's to blame, you ask? Well, we are. You got it, dear readers, all of us who lack the moral courage to feed our troops into the grinder to "make their sacrifice mean something", and the press that puts a microphone in our faces and broadcasts our denigration of the troops (though I lack the mental acuity to make the leap that "Bring them Home"=denigration) into their frigging tents in Iraq. We, the opposition to the War in Iraq and the press, have fucked up this war for everybody.

In fact, our opposition has a causal relationship with casualties. If we would only shut up until the end of the war (The War on Terror, that is, not the war in Iraq. Please open your hymnals to "For the Duration of the Emergency", by the German Chancellor, circa 1933), no insurgent would take an American life having been emboldened by a defeatist press. Moreoever, the troops wouldn't LET themselves be killed by moping around the battlefield after reading the New York Times op-eds. To hear some tell it, we're mere moments away from greeting returning soldiers the same way we did those coming home from Vietnam.

(Side Note: No joke, soldiers do what they're told by the civilian leadership, so take your angst out on the leadership at the polls. Harassing or spitting on a soldier is so far beyond uncool, that doing it near me will get you an ass kicking fit to make your hair bleed.)

If we had only been more positive, the Sunni and Shiia would have cast aside their differences and sung Kumbaya around the pile of burning tires on the road to the Baghdad airport. Assuming they didn't get hit by mortar fire, or get detonated by an IED. Things in the Green Zone are a little chaotic at the moment. And when a Texas republican can see that, well, that's saying something. It's also likely that a few good vibes from us would have gotten the women of Iraq equality as well, so now we can add misogynist tendencies to our list of crimes against the war effort.

Positive energy and good will could be harnessed to deflect bullets from the soldiers in unprotected, far less armored, Humvees that are the working and patrolling vehicle in Iraq. They would forget that the wounded are being charged for food at Walter Reed. They'll forget the congressional attempts to cut their benefits and fuck over Guard and reserve units, their involuntary extensions and shorthandedness, and all of this while nearly nine BILLION dollars went missing while under American control.

Yep, if we would just be quiet, give up a little of our privacy, and not question so much, why, the whole country would be much better off. As far as we knew, anyway.


Cantankerous Bitch said...

As long as the GOP is in charge, liberals will be the scapegoats for everything. The Iraqi war will be no exception. What the right lacks in inventiveness it more than makes up with repetition. Vietnam's failure was the liberals' fault too, don't you know. (In fact, the right wing of the 'sphere has latched on to the phrase "They're Vietnaming Us!" with a vigor.)

Here's one of the places that the "blame the liberals" logic falls apart for me: If troop morale were being SO adversely affected by critical press, then wouldn't we hear more about them getting their asses kicked due to sloppy performance? I mean, that's the axiom, isn't it? That battlefield performance is significantly impacted by morale, right? Well, if the Dreadful Liberal Press were so crushingly deleterious, wouldn't we be hearing about at least an occasional battlefield bungle? As I understand it (and I readily admit this is not my area of expertise), the biggest problems are what you describe: underestimated insurgency and inadequate resources. I don't recall hearing anything about dejected soldiers unable to bear the strain of battle under the weight of liberal insurrection.
That said, I've not been reading soldier blogs. It would be interesting to see what, if any comments, are being made on the topic. From the horse's mouth & all...
At any rate, the folks to whom you refer can kiss my ass, too. How quickly they forget that questioning our government is the core principle of representative democracy.

Lily said...

With this one, it was hard to tell where you were being sarcastic and where you were not. The matter of respecting troops should not be played out in the court of competing public opinion...it should be inherent in our policies and practices. Articulated not by pundits, but by people in whose hands their lives rest.How is it respectful of our troops to allow their lives be rendered this way?
Given what is happening in other countries, nuclear programs, abusive dictators- what reasons made Iraq so compelling a cause? When we don't even have a handle on actually fighting terrorism, did we need to divert resources there? How exactly do you define "supporting our troops", if not to say we should take their lives seriously? Chasing nobility helps no one. It does not bring anyone back. It does not stop the next ied- to spin a rotation of justifications for why someone is expendable.. And do the soldiers see any of the immense profits being made there? Hell no! Corruption, lack of accountability, profiteering... wouldn't it be nice if each widow got a piece of that action to send her fatherless babies to college?? Never going to happen.
I think instead of writers speculating about what demoralizes people, we have to look at what is written and described by the people deployed.

My guess is demoralization does not come from "liberals" as the media would have us believe (Conveniently) it comes from the knowledge that our government lied. It comes from knowing that their families are home in America trying to live on the cut in income and bullshit pay. It comes from being exposed to who-knows-what. It can come from many sources, demoralization. Not wanting to die is a pretty good reason.
And likening people who express their opinions as Americans to anti-soldier "spitters" (comparisons to VietNam) is just inappropriate. Typical-smear anyone that challenges. Squash dissent. Let FOX news set the course of America.
The liberal left is not to blame for the lack of rationale. If we could say yes-- we stopped Saddam from nuking us, we liberated women, we stopped terrorism-- perhaps it would change the way a person views the giving of their lives. Each of us decide what we are willing to die for. Unless we lack the choice. If somebody is ok with Bush's rationale, thats their business. But I prefer to think a person that enlists should be able to have more faith in their government- to do right by them in this respect. The message is not to spit on the people serving us, but to spit on the people that cavalierly sent them there. I think it IS patriotic to insist on American "values".
The media seems to have little time to be concerned with morale and the left, they are too busy putting out propaganda and encouraging people to question the patriotism of anyone who dares to act, well, American!
And to say that we can do better regarding our troops- somehow taking politicians to task for their "disposable citizens" doctrine- makes us "underminers" and "demoralizers"? We should all demand accountability here.
Anyone can tell somebody a cause is noble, it doesn't make it so. I am not in a position to decide for ANYONE what they should be proud of. I can support the troops for who they are without condoning the war.
But I will say that I would rather support my troops by putting a higher premium on their lives! We should have done as much as possible to avoid going there and now there, we should do what we can to get them home.
Again, I capital "I" IMPLORE people not to generalize the anti-war movement and draw conclusions about people in that category that have been spoon fed to you by propagandists who realize that public opinion is NOT in support of this war and the administration's rationale. This is NOT THE SAME as being against soldiers and anyone serving our country. Quite the opposite- it is the administration that seems hellbent on demonstrating that Veterans are not important, that their lives are to be thrown away over lies, resources, and alleged liberation.
We did not liberate any other country with such circumstances nor did we take down other inhumane dictators. We did not intervene in Rwanda, Darfur, etc. despite ethical compulsions and the Geneva convention re: genocide. We stand silent while millions in the world starve, are tortured, where women live in fear and are treated like dogs... why are these not noble causes?
In fact, as groups like Veterans for Peace are quick to point out, respecting Veterans means giving more thought into the reasons our government sends them in harm's way in the first place, and the casualties are simply not justified in this case. Am I patriotic only if I can bring myself to their level of hypocrisy?
And what about the way we treat them when they return? Cutting benefits, cutting the VA, cutting eligibility? Tricking the enlisted about the real story with tuition? Is it patriotic to give shitty care to wounded Veterans?
Why not attack those- the ISSUES- instead of the people who speak up about them?

Officious Pedant said...

Because identifying the issues, the ones that caused troops to be placed in harm's way and the ones related to their treatment, would undermine the war effort.

That's the word from the "patriots", anyway. You see, Lily, by pointing out that lies were used to sell the war, and that the only way to make their sacrifices worthwhile is to feed as many soldiers into the meat grinder as it takes to achieve the goals of the administration that sent them, they neatly support the concept that "something is being done" about terrorism.

To think otherwise is to denegrate the sacrifices that have already been made, and render them for naught. Less than naught, according to some, because (wait for it) pulling them out will damage the credibility of the US and make us a terrorist target forever.

Cantankerous Bitch said...

Just a little background detail, Lily --
OP and I visited a message board over the weekend and were taken to task by the rabid supporters of the "Administration Criticism Hurts The Troops" crowd. None of them offered any concrete examples of how this was true, but kept banging away at the idea like it were the last drum on earth. Any assertions that the war has been executed poorly were met with insistence that "doing something is better than doing nothing". The whole argument was started by a number of "Cindy Sheehan's actions are tantamount to treason" comments, to which OP and I objected for a variety of reasons. The reaction was swift and ugly.
At any rate, it was pretty clear that the right is getting their ducks in a row to blame every Iraqi failure on the "goddamn liberals", and no amount of reasoning with them to the contrary will matter.

Lily said...

Well "doing something instead of nothing" type thinking does not bring back people's sons and daughters, moms and dads- and making ourselves more of a target for extremists and terrorists will no doubt cost even more lives.
Perhaps talking about the truth will make less people inclined to participate in this madness (ie not making recruitment goals) and perhaps some resistance will make them confront the issues of credibility and justification.
As long as it is someone else's child or parent, relative- well maybe soemthing is better than nothing. If one looks at the value of our soldiers' lives that way.

Cantankerous Bitch said...

The truly chilling thing about those message board comments was that they were made by people who DO have family/friends in Iraq. Hard to imagine, isn't it?