Frank Rich captures the point I have been trying for some time to make.
People are dying in this war in Iraq, and soldiers on the front line are making sacrifices — but our nation, while it has reelected this President and thus assured that this war would continue — does not feel like a nation making choices in time of war. We are not being asked to make major sacrifices to support our troops or our military; we are not turning over our productive capacity to help speed the protection of auto armor; and we are still sitting on our tax cuts.
From Rich’s article:
Ordinary people beyond Washington, red and blue Americans alike, are feeling that disconnect more and more. On the same day that CBS broadcast the Kennedy Center special, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 70 percent of Americans believed that any gains in Iraq had come at the cost of “unacceptable” losses in casualties and that 56 percent believed the war wasn’t “worth fighting” – up 8 percent since the summer. In other words, most Americans believe that our troops are dying for no good reason, even as a similar majority (58 percent) believes, contradictorily enough, that we should keep them in Iraq.
So the soldiers soldier on, and we party on. As James Dao wrote in The New York Times, “support our troops” became a verbal touchstone in 2004, yet “only for a minuscule portion of the populace, mainly those with loved ones overseas, does it have anything to do with sacrifice.” Quite the contrary: we have our tax cuts, and a president who promises to make them permanent. Such is the disconnect between the country and the war that there is no national outrage when the president awards the Medal of Freedom to the clowns who undermined the troops by bungling intelligence (George Tenet) and Iraqi support (Paul Bremer). Such is the disconnect that Washington and the news media react with slack-jawed shock when one of those good soldiers we support so much speaks up at a town hall meeting in Kuwait and asks the secretary of defense why vehicles that take him and his brothers into battle lack proper armor.
THE ARMY WE (DON’T) NEED
The New York Times disappoints me with this editorial today.
Because the editors note that “four out of 10 Americans now serving in Iraq come from Reserve or National Guard units,” they go on to argue that:
Washington needs to increase its recruitment quotas sharply for active-duty service in the Army and Marine Corps. The current Army recruitment ceiling of just above 500,000 ought to go up to nearly 600,000, still substantially below the levels of the late 1980’s.
The Marines’ ceiling should go up from the current 178,000 to around 200,000. Attracting those recruits will require offering financial and other inducements on top of the added payroll costs.
The Times is wrong on this. We are short on people today because we committed a great number of troops to an alarmingly sticky morass in Iraq. They make this point themselves in the editorial, but then argue that the answer is more troops, rather than bringing an end to our deployment abroad.
George Bush’s biggest error was that he showed the world America’s limits — and thus, as the New York Times points out, the U.S. is vulnerable in other arenas as nations know that now is the time to get away with bad stuff. There is little we can do to rebuff bad behavior elsewhere today, whether it is in Russia, Iran, North Korea, China, Africa, and so on.
The answer is not to make the nation’s problem larger by building an ever larger military, but rather by facing up to the errors we have committed now, and pull back troops so that the country is prepared to deal with contingencies and problems that may yet unfold elsewhere.
TOM DELAY’S SLEAZY FRIENDS
This should be read on disgusting and corrupt behavior by Tom DeLay buddies Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon about their lobbying on behalf of Indian tribes.
From the article on their internal emails:
Even as the two fast-talking political brokers banked large profits for three years of minimal labor, it was found, they were exchanging gleeful private messages mocking tribal leaders as “morons,” “troglodytes” and “monkeys.” “I want all their MONEY!!!” Mr. Scanlon exuberantly e-mailed in the midst of one deal.
Mr. Hastert, if you make life easier for Mr. DeLay, you deserve his fate.
— Steve Clemons