Monday, January 8, 2007

Additional Sacrifices

Recently President George W. Bush stated that “difficult choices and additional sacrifices lie ahead.” As a combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I take it extremely personal that our Commander and Chief casually speaks of sacrifice when it is not shared equally through out our country.

Many of the soldiers that I fought beside in the Middle-East have returned on multiple deployments to the combat zone, some of them totalling over three years of combined war experience. Zogby’s poll last year proved that only a quarter of the troops in Iraq are there on their first tour of duty, half of the current troops are on their second deployment and the remaining twenty-five percent have gone three times or more.

The same minority of Americans are paying the burden of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Only one half of one percent of Americans serve in the US military today. That is the least amount in the last century. With so few in the Armed Forces and the demand so great if “additional sacrifices” are to made it will be my friends and fellow service members that will be the men and woman on the front line.

When the President was asked how Americans would sacrifice he replied that “they are standing in longer lines at the airport.” When we went to war in Europe and the Pacific during the Second World War it was apparent in every small town in this nation that there was sacrifice by each and every American. People rationed, donated, worked harder for less and sometimes went without. Today soldiers return from war to news reports of a new coffee shop opening around the corner, an animal being born in the zoo, and shoppers being trampled over for a video game. They stand in long lines at the airport to listen to passengers grumble about the wait and wonder to themselves if America even realizes a war going on.

If we are a country engaged in a war of necessity than shouldn't a greater portion of our democracy invest more time and energy or at least concern and attention toward the war our military is waging? And if we are not going to maintain a larger more distributed sacrifice because a huge majority of our citizens don’t believe we are on a proper course then shouldn’t we have an elected leadership that represents those views and pulls the troops out?

Certainly we could have a more defined purpose with attainable goals our commanders can work toward. When the administration speaks of success or failure in Iraq it seems unclear to everyone what that entails. We are asked to swallow ideological ramblings to justify a continued sacrifice. I would rather have our foreign policy based on tactical and factual reasoning than a pep rally that abuses America’s patriotism, values and sense of courage. Haven’t we been lied to enough by our own government to have not grown wise to the repetitive talking points?

I hear President Bush claim that “The enemies of liberty” are attempting to foment sectarian violence because they “hate freedom.” From what I can tell on the ground the people in a civil struggle are fighting because they fear a lack of freedom. Two sects battle because of mistrust and polarized sides encouraged by US occupation. These are not people that hate Americans because we are free, they hate us because we occupy their country with our military and neglect their people in favor of profit and exploitation of their resources.

The Department of Defense predicts Al-Qaeda makes up less than five percent of the insurgency in Iraq and they are less desired in the country by the majority of Iraqis than the US military. Why does the President continue to make claims that Iraq will become a terrorist training ground and a haven for extremists? It clearly seems to distract Americans away from the truth and attempts to intimidate us into continuing the war, even expanding it.

Perhaps we should consider all the evidence before weighing in on backing any politician who can not speak beyond threats and propaganda? I want to hear my leaders speak of concrete solutions to the escalating war in the Middle-East. I would like to see leaders that represent the will of our democracy’s majority. Let’s put our military’s capacity, to continue and expand this war, on the table before we enter into a debate about the next phase in the war in Iraq.

the heretic

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