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Crossing the Border Into The Real War

When I heard Bush and others worry about the appearance of being an occupying army in Iraq, it occurred to me that our chance for avoiding that perception ended at the crossing of the Kuwaiti Border. Once we violated Iraq’s sovereignty, and moved to break our enemy, we were assured of being seen as foreign invaders, assured of being seen by Iraqis as occupiers.

We’ve got over a hundred thousand soldiers in there, camped out in bases throughout Mesopotamia, and they’re worried about the perception of us as occupiers.

They're worried that the Iraqis might get the impression we want to stay. Folks are worried that putting in more soldiers might give Iraqis the impression that this is not their fight, and they can sit on the sidelines.

There seem to be a lot of worries about what the Iraqis will think of our presence in this fashion, despite the spread of Democracy, the political readjustment of Iraq having been one of the secondary goals of this occupation, as originally planned.

There seems to be a pattern here of justifying half measures on the grounds that full measures will not meet with the approval of the Iraqis. This despite their anger, on record quite often, with the failure of security in their country, and the undeniable, unchecked escalation of violence since Summer of 2003.

This is a war we've been forced to fight with one arm tied behind our back. Our Secretary of Defense remains committed to the notion that we can have any size army in Iraq, as long as it's small. An Army Chief of Staff was more or less shoved out the door for contradicting him, saying that hundreds of thousands of troops would be necessary. Now Bush and Rumsfeld tell the American public that the reason why they aren't sending more soldiers in is that the commanders haven't asked for them. If the answer is a loss of command, it's not odd there have been so few calls from the brass on this issue. Soldiers are forced to use vulnerable transportation, pay for essential battleground equipment out of pocket and off the shelf. They are asked to fight a war to the full extent of their abilities without the full equipment to make their fight more effective.

Wars are not perfect, and funds are not without limits. Most mistakes are correctable, though, and within our huge defense budget easily find the funds to do what's necessary. What's in the way, Ironically, is that our budget seems more tuned towards procurement of new weapons rather than fighting wars. When it comes to paying a contractor, funding maintenance, or up-armoring vehicles, the last two choices are often sacrificed on behalf of the first.

The rims are grinding on the concrete, and we're wondering when we got the flat tire here. Few Americans enjoy the sight of our army limping through a war when it sprinted through the start of it so finely. What went wrong is obvious. Convincing our leaders of it is a different story. They're still fighting the first three months of this war, while the rest of us face the war two years on.

This is a war that's dying through neglect. Time and time again, our president has been advised that the situation is grave in this war, that our resources for it are insufficient, that we don't have the numbers of people to fight this war that we really need. He has been told that certain actions were bad ideas and took them anyway.
What's more, he started this war without solid public support, and only made it worse by not giving the full truth to those who did support it.

The only support he has asked for from the American people is moral support. He has not asked them to tighten their belts, and give up the tax cuts to offset the costs of a very expensive, ongoing war. He's issued no call to arms, literal or otherwise towards public service. His message to America has been "Sit back and relax, I'll take care of this". He's done his very best to distract people from negative reports, to discredit those who make non-optimistic claims about the course of things. He's set the pattern of accusing the media, and accusing the folks who opposed the war of being uncaring, unfeeling saboteurs of the war effort, instead of properly answering their words or doubts. Supporters, taking his cue, isolate themselves from bad news, and convince themselves it's a matter of unbalanced coverage.

As a result, Americans are at a remove from this war, and that's a dangerous way to carry things out. The Moral support our troops need most is our understanding of their situation. People back home in WWII followed events, sacrificed material and pleasures, and were called to do their part in many ways to help the war. As a result, folks back at home made sure the leaders did their jobs, and made sure that the troops were looked after.

But With Korea, Vietnam, and now this war, we outsourced more of the concern to this professional army, outsource the concerns to our wise leaders, and enjoyed our prosperity. LBJ disastrously turned to policies that kept the real character of the war and it's progress secret, and pursued a policy called "Guns and Butter", where no great sacrifice was asked of Americans (we got the guns overseas, and butter at home). The Resulting deficits, debts and financial stresses created the economic and political nightmare of the Seventies.

The time has come to ask Americans as a people to do their part as a people to win this war, to get people involved. The time has come for Bush and Company to admit the shortcomings of their initial approach, and stop bubbling America off from the cold hard truth of what's going on. The time has come for the President to take what's left of the gloriously unselfish spirit of post-9/11 America, and get people committed to service to their country, in whatever ways possible. It is long past time that we become more involved in this war on terror, instead of treating it as something somebody else is doing.

America must become active participant in it's own defense, or else it will become a passive player in it's own defeat.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at August 22, 2005 10:40 AM