Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The 4000

This week, the Iraq War claimed it's 4000th American soldier. This number is in itself not as great as the losses of Vietnam 58,209, Korea 36,574, or World War II 405,399. But, to the families of those lost, the pain is beyond measure. The Veterans Administration lists all the casualties of American Wars on it's web site which is helpful to put the human cost of war in perspective. http://www1.va.gov/opa/fact/amwars.asp .

There has been 12 major wars in our history and countless incursions and skirmishes that fall short of the threshold to be called a war. A few of this wars would meet the level of a war of survival. Most this past century, except World War I and II, were wars of discipline, as historian Shelby Steele observed in a Wall Street Journal article last year, and further commented on by Tom Barnett in a recent This week's column.

I will not attempt to debate the merits of wars of discipline. This post will take the time to call attention to the level of sacrifice, that the country is willing for the most part to ignore. Ralph Peters, distinguished military author has an article in the New York Post, where he takes the elected leadership to task for Abusing America's War Dead. He has been a supporter of the war effort but in this article he observes with disgust.

As we reached the 4,000th service-member killed in action, I found myself disgusted with both the Bush administration and its irresponsible, cynical opponents. The slogan, "Support Our Troops, Bring Them Home," may be the most dishonest that ever intruded on American politics - but the wars original sponsors haven't rushed their own kids to the recruiting office, either.
With all-too-rare exceptions, our politicians, right or left, really don't give a damn about our troops. Polls matter, grunts don't.

Peters, a former soldier pulls no punches with how he feels those seeking and holding office care about the troops.

......why don't more pols encourage their own kids to sign up? I'll tell you why: They regard our troops as second-raters who couldn't get into Harvard Law or a master's program at Yale.

It's the Leona Helmsley approach to policy: Our troops are the "little people."

Strong words from someone who feels like I do, about those who serve. Peters offers some advice to Washington as how to honor those 4000 dead.

* From President Bush, a straightforward, no-excuses apology for his administration's arrogance and earlier mistakes in this war.
* From Sen. Clinton, a public denunciation of her Hollywood pals (who keep funding movies portraying our soldiers as atrocity-addicted psychotics) and a commitment to listen to our leading generals before making any decisions regarding troop withdrawals.
* From Sen. Obama, a two-week visit to dirty-boots Army and Marine units in Iraq (not the Green Zone and no photo ops) and a pledge to give a fair hearing to military advice before surrendering to al Qaeda in Iraq.
* From both parties in Congress, a
return to the policy that, in wartime, politics stops at the water's edge.

To this I would add, when pigs fly.

In fighting a war, the sense of national survival or even the survival of national pride must be tapped, in order to endure the loss of treasury and citizens. World War II began and continued with America watching England stand alone for two years, and Japan almost crush China. The sense of anger brought about by the attack on Pearl Harbor and six months of losing ground to Japan in the Pacific, brought the country to feel that this was a war of survival to be won at all costs. Three and a half years later, the Axis lay in ruins.

Today, We were told of a war on "Global Terror." Our success in keeping the enemy at bay, and not inflaming the citizenry to win at all costs is being paid for, with the neglect of those we ask to do the fighting. This is one of the costs of a war of discipline where we choose to fight for political purpose. The statesmanship and leadership to inform and rally the American people to understand the cause is almost non-existent.

Perhaps that is the lesson, not to begin a war of discipline unless you've got a lot of friends. IE, Gulf War I.

Galrahn over at Information Dissemination posted a link to a new blog hosted on board the USS Russell (DDG 59). The blog, TheDestroyermen, will follow the men of the Russell on deployment to the Western Pacific. The first post, "Farewell Paradise" catches the bittersweet moment of departure.

No comments: