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Bush disrespects the troops
By Carla Binion
Online Journal Associate Editor
September 2, 2005—"You fasten the trigger for others to fire. Then you sit back and watch when the death count gets higher. You hide in your mansion as young peoples' blood flows out of their bodies and into the mud." This line from Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" perfectly describes George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice and other neoconservative ideologues as they continue to use poor and middle class American soldiers as disposable pawns in their chess game of reshaping the Middle East.
The wealthy often send other people's children to die in wars of questionable ethical or practical value. They might cry crocodile tears for fallen soldiers or say they "honor" them, but their gestures are transparent recruiting gimmicks if they keep misusing soldiers as cannon fodder for unjust purposes.
Most of us have seen the TV footage where Bush made a comedy act of his failure to find WMD. Before an audience of national media figures, Bush pretended to search in all directions, saying, "Where are those weapons of mass destruction? No weapons here! None over here either!" Although the WMD excuse was Bush's original rationale for convincing soldiers to put their lives on the line in Iraq, he was comfortable laughing about it.
For all his high-toned talk about the glory of battle, Bush never personally faced combat and neither have his two daughters. Despite his lip service about respecting the troops, Bush has made light of their sacrifices.
Senator John McCain said on last Sunday's "Face the Nation" that Bush "grieves and carries a heavy load" when it comes to soldiers who have been killed. Sunday's "McLaughlin Group" showed video of Bush saying, "There is no higher calling than serving in the armed forces." However, his joking about WMD and his coercing U.S. intelligence agencies to trump up a false case for war (as documented by the Downing Street Memo and other sources) are more accurate indicators of Bush's attitude toward our troops.
Now that we're bogged down in Iraq, leading politicians say we must "stay the course," but the war could easily drag on for years. New recruits are being targeted and pursued in our nation's high schools, according to Karen Houppert's article in The Nation.
Houppert writes, "Army recruiters are ordered to approach tenth, eleventh and twelfth graders—repeatedly. . . . Recruiters are told to dig in deep at their assigned high schools, to offer their services as assistant football coaches—or basketball coaches or track coaches . . . to deliver donuts and coffee for the faculty once a month," in order to gain influence and snare students into the armed services.
Apparently the military expects Bush's war will require large numbers of fresh young Americans for war fodder. Will Bush "honor" them by luring them into service with the same lies about links between Iraq and 9/11 and exaggerated and imaginary threats to our freedom that he used on earlier recruits?
Defense Department spokesman Col. Gary Keck claims the current war will continue a long time, according to Houppert. She quotes Keck as saying, "This is a generational struggle. It's not going to be over in two years. It's going to be with us for many years."
Houppert says that recruiters are told to focus on students at vulnerable times, including spring, when some might opt for the Army instead of college. The tactics often work, writes Houppert, "not necessarily for the white doctor's son in the suburbs, who can see both Princeton and a Porsche in his future, but for low-income urban youth. In fact, the fewer alternatives a young person has, the better."
Houppert adds that the military now offers after-school programs to sixth, seventh and eighth graders in Chicago, Texas and Florida. She writes that Jim Rhodes, a school council member at Chicago's Goethe Elementary School, managed to help eliminate Goethe's military after-school program when he learned the children were "marching with wooden guns." Rhodes said the children were being shown that the military could be fun in order to "influence these kids to go into JROTC when they got to high school, and then hopefully enlist after that," and added the program was largely about teaching the children obedience.
Americans rightly bristle and grow outraged against pedophile predators, and should experience similar feelings when their children are preyed upon by the military.
Bush sits in his ivory tower playing war president, eyeing the children of the poor as potential war game pawns. He sits there knowing he lied to the troops about WMD, knowing he pushed the CIA to fix the intelligence to fit his already-determined Iraq policy, and knowing he'll continue to mislead soldiers and potential recruits with more false claims about his rationale for never-ending war.
He won't face the mothers of dead soldiers unless they agree with his policies. Their pain is too real and raw for him to absorb.
In a recent article, "George W. Bushﾒs Noble CauseﾖﾑPolitical Capital,'" Thom Hartmann says Cindy Sheehan expressed her deep grief over the unnecessary loss of her son to Bush's war games before Congressman John Conyers' investigative commission on the war in Iraq.
Sheehan said, "This is a picture of my son Casey when he was 7 months old. It's an enlargement of a picture he carried in his wallet until the day he was killed. He loved this picture of himself. It was returned to us with his personal effects from Iraq. He always sucked on those two fingers. When he was born he had a flat face from passing through the birth canal and we called him Edward G., short for Edward G. Robinson.
"How many of you have ever seen your child in his or her premature coffin? It is a shocking and very painful sight. The most heart-breaking aspect of seeing Casey lying in his casket for me was that his face was flat again because he had no muscle tone. He looked like he did when he was a baby lying in his bassinet."
Also heart-breaking, of course, is the fact that Casey Sheehan's life was stolen from him prematurely for no good reason—no "noble cause." He'd still be alive except for Bush's untruthfully planned, unnecessary and deceitfully sold Iraq war. So would more than 2,000 other Americans and hundreds of thousands other innocent, valuable people. Juxtapose these facts with Bush's joking about being unable to find WMD.
Bush, his supporters and members of Congress who won't put an end to this Iraq debacle are staggeringly callous and inhuman in their inability to feel the grief appropriate to the reality of the situation. If they allowed themselves to grieve, to care deeply about the poor and middle class soldiers being lied to and thrown into the meat grinder of a war machine, they'd surely adjust their behavior and begin to find a quick way out of this quagmire.
Bush clearly disrespects the troops, and his actions belie any words to the contrary. For members of Congress and others to fall in line with this proven liar and to blindly support his unclear "course" in Iraq, without demanding a definite exit strategy (and reasonably prompt exit) is unconscionable. To support the troops is to tell the truth about, and take a stand against, Bush's dishonestly crafted perpetual war.
The views expressed herein are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of Online Journal.