Losing the Military
… I am outraged at what I see as the cause of his
death. For nearly three years, the Bush administration has pursued a policy
that makes our troops sitting ducks. While Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that our policy is to “clear,
hold and build” Iraqi towns, there aren't enough troops to do that.
In our last conversation, Augie complained that the
cost in lives to clear insurgents was “less and less worth it,”
because Marines have to keep coming back to clear the same places. Marine
commanders in the field say the same thing. Without sufficient troops, they
can't hold the towns. Augie was killed on his fifth mission to clear Haditha.
At Augie's grave, the lieutenant colonel knelt in front
of my wife and, with tears in his eyes, handed her the folded flag. He said
the only thing he could say openly: “Your son was a true American hero.”
Perhaps. But I felt no glory, no honor.
Two painful questions remain for all of us. Are the
lives of Americans being killed in Iraq wasted? Are they dying in vain? President
Bush says those who criticize staying the course are not honoring the dead.
That is twisted logic: honor the fallen by killing another 2,000 troops in
a broken policy?
A grieving father shouldn't have to write an op-ed to get the
The nation shouldn't confuse high morale in the military with
believing that President Bush has led a good fight. Morale in the military is
high because we've got the best fighting force ever assembled in the history
of the world and the soldiers know it. So, of course they respect and have
faith in the people with whom they are serving.
But Bush is losing the military, one soldier at a time and not
just from wounds and deaths.
Support for President Bush and
for the war in Iraq has slipped significantly in the last year among members
of the military’s professional core, according to the 2005 Military
Approval of the president’s Iraq policy
fell 9 percentage points from 2004; a bare majority, 54 percent, now say they
view his performance on Iraq as favorable. Support for his overall performance
fell 11 points, to 60 percent, among active-duty readers
But one thing is clear, which is that the reason Bush's poll numbers
are 20 points higher in the military than in the general public is because the
majority of the military still identify themselves as Republicans, with only
13% openly saying they are Democratic.
Yes, I believe there are more military Democrats than claim
that mantle openly, but I have no way of proving it, except the reality that
the Democratic Party is the opposition and in the military you simply don't
oppose your commander in chief, at least not openly. I have comments, there are news reports of former soldiers now dissenting, then there are the Fighting Dems.
It is my belief that not only is Iraq the Republican Party's Southeast
Asia, but more specifically, as I've said before, George W. Bush is their Vietnam.
Rep. John Murtha is right about how the military feels. This Military
Times Poll is just the tip of the spear, which is pointed at Democrats in the
Senate and Congress, as well as Republicans, because many have still not backed
off of their prior support for Bush's horrific decision, as well as their spineless
acquiescence to a war they did not declare.
“Let me tell you, war is a
nasty business. It is seriously so… The shadows of those killings stay with
you the rest of your life.”
John Murtha on “Nightline”
But the mistake of waging the Iraq war will be with the U.S. forever.