To Veterans, and Anyone Else Listening:
As I’ve mentioned to others, I rarely lose my temper, but this week I’m steamed! I’m a retired military officer who has been involved in activist stuff since last September to help show veterans how this administration is leaving us all behind. But this week my grave concerns once again have turned to disgust and anger:
First was the attempted cover up, by the DoD, of photos showing flag-draped coffins coming back from Iraq.
Second, the fact (like Vietnam), that we’re ordering our troops to clean out the enemy but at the same time, are handcuffing them with dangerously unstable tactics and inadequate equipment, causing more casualties than there should be.
And now Ted Koppel’s show Nightline, honoring our dead tonight on ABC, is being kept off the air by the Sinclair network administration stooges all over the East Coast and elsewhere. Koppel is apparently only going to read the names of our dead brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, wives and husbands. That’s it – that’s all. The PBS News Hour has, very respectfully, been reading the names of the dead for a year.
As a veteran, I’ve had it with this administration, and I hope more vets make the same decision.
So what follows is a little long, and I’m going to leave this post up for several days. If you know a veteran who needs to hear something different from the Bush party line, ask him/her to come by and read this post, and leave comments. There are a lot of veterans who know that Mr. Bush is not the man for the job again in 2004 – but they need to know why. So below, updated and reprinted partially from a talk I gave in January, are some ideas that I think vets and many others might need to consider closely:
Until just nine months ago, I wasn't going to consider any Democrat for President in 2004 – after all, for almost 40 years, I like many veterans and military people, had usually voted Republican.
But Not This Time!
I no longer believe that the Bush administration has the best interests of our military and our veterans in mind.
Veterans, active duty troops, Reserves and National Guard and their families: there are millions of you out there. Most people don’t realize the importance of this bloc of voters or that the military absentee ballots from overseas, along with veterans and their families’ votes in 2000, may have swung the results in many states, including Florida.
You have seen the bumper stickers, "Support our Troops", and I know most all of you do, regardless of this administration’s policies and actions. But I say to you this: Patriotism doesn’t just belong to Mr. Bush and the Republicans.
Please also understand that "troops" includes our veterans, many of whom are being forgotten in a variety of ways by this administration.
Why should military veterans, or anyone associated with the military, or any of you, consider any option other than Mr. Bush for the coming 2004 election?
In less than a year, George Bush has radically changed our national strategy, and because everything Mr. Bush does is cloaked in the 9/11 terrorist attack, no one who supports him seems to object. That new national strategy, known as the Bush Doctrine, provides for regime change in other countries.
Now some of you will rightly point out that Iraq isn’t the first time in our history that we have gone after another country pre-emptively or another country’s leader in past administrations – Fidel Castro comes to mind - and you should critically look at those actions as well. Mr. Bush is even using the excuse, and his poor understanding of history, to now claim that Bill Clinton started the idea of regime change.
But here’s what’s different under George Bush: Regime change and pre-emptive invasions of other countries (unilaterally, if necessary) are now a matter of written as well as verbally stated policy of this administration – and therefore the policy of the United States of America. Think about that.
The Bush Doctrine contains no statement that pre-emptive war and regime change will be policies of last resort, used only when all other options have been tried.
I don’t know about you veterans out there, but I did not serve in the military to forcefully project Democracy into other countries – I served to defend our country and our allies from threats, foreign & domestic: that’s what my oath as an officer said – there’s a big difference.
This administration got us into war, based on two primary assumptions: WMDs & Saddam’s supposed ties to Al Qaeda and 9/11, neither of which has proven to be true.
Nobody was sorry to see Saddam Hussein go down. Nevertheless, a growing number of veterans do not agree with how the Bush administration justified its actions in going to war .
We will not forget those have fallen and the many more thousands of wounded, nor the administration's bait-and-switch tactics for getting us into this pre-emptive war that, in fact, has not made us safer from the terrorism that threatens us.
Now, briefly why else should you care about what this administration is doing to veterans, active duty troops, the Reserves and National Guard? Because this administration is failing in Leadership 101 with regard to veterans, and is putting our best-in-the-world military at risk for the future.
When Mr. Bush committed us to war in Iraq: Gen Shinseki, his Army Chief of Staff told Mr. Bush that the intended use of the military, and the inadequate numbers of personnel, was a badly flawed strategy. Gen Shinseki was fired. Now Gen Shinseki has been proven to be right.
We’re committed around the world in many places like Korea, and a war in Afghanistan that’s still going on. But instead, because Mr. Bush had his personal agenda blinders on, to take care of the Iraq “aftermath”, we’ve had to use Reserves and the National Guard for 18-month call-ups, many of them in combat areas longer than active duty troops - with no guarantee that they won’t have to be used further. Their job return guarantee by law is just 12 months.
You probably know we have an all-volunteer force these days, but our Reserves and Guard are at risk in many ways for the future, because this administration has put them there.
Their families, businesses, and incomes are being shredded as these men and women faithfully follow their oaths of service. This administration has bitten the hand that helped deliver it’s “victory” – and worse yet sidetracked us from focusing our efforts of going after the real terrorists of 9/11 and others who would harm us.
And by the way, this is no scare tactic, you have probably heard by now that many military experts say that if Mr. Bush is re-elected, expect the draft to be reactivated in 2005. Richard Perle a Bush inside advisor, in his new book, An End to Evil, pushes Mr. Bush to end the regimes in Iran and Syria, treat France and Saudi Arabia as enemies, blockade North Korea, withdraw from the United Nations, and abandon what Perle calls “the illusion of a Palestinian State.”
In other words, continue to use our military to keep us in a permanent state of aggressive warfare. Mr. Bush simply does not have the numbers of people to carry out more of his wars of pre-emption without adding a lot more forces through ready sources like the draft.
Something else: In his determined push to prove himself right about WMDs, Mr. Bush had over 1,400 military intelligence experts chasing WMDs for 6 months after the war supposedly ended, while we continued to sustain casualties.
When it became clear that WMDs weren’t going to be found, many of these experts were finally free to help in critical areas where we’ve sustained most of our casualties – including the Sunni Triangle. Not coincidentally, in my opinion, just over a month later, we were able to track Saddam Hussein down.
Many VA hospitals are being closed and other veterans’ health benefits cut back including prescription drug benefits to veterans. The Disabled American Veterans, a group with no political ax to grind other than helping disabled veterans obtain their benefits authorized by law, has been blocked from visiting wounded and disabled GIs at Walter Reed hospital for “security reasons”, and the list goes on.
What’s the bottom line here?
George Bush has broken this country’s contract with its Veterans, its Reserves and National Guard, and its active duty forces. He’s broken this country’s relationships with long time allies. He has flagrantly misused our ability to respond to the real terrorists behind 9/11 by pre-emptively invading Iraq. He thumbed his nose at the international community and yet now expects their cooperation. He’s signed into law Patriot Act I and parts of Patriot Act II that threaten your freedoms. And he plans to do more of the same. He’s divided this country, in ways not seen since Vietnam. Is this who you want again in 2004?
Mr. Bush, on behalf of veterans all around this country who believe as I do, have a nice trip back to Crawford, Texas, next January – permanently.
Not much needed to be changed in the above comments, now four months old. I’ve received many emails responding to this website since September, some accusing me of being a traitor, among other things. But many more have said words like,”Amen, and keep it coming!”
Veterans: It’s time for us all to understand “how the cow eats the cabbage.”
Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link