Monday, March 19, 2007

Why Does Bush Hate Our Troops? Why Does He Hate America?

Yesterday, I wrote the following diary:
We Have Met The Enemy, And He Is Republican Administrations!
It was a brief explication of the Reagan and Bush Administrations' ever shifting allegiances, between Shia and Sunni militants and militaries, the enemies of our enemies continually proving to be our enemies, no matter how much we sometimes supported them, both politically and militarily. These Republican Administrations have been just plain stupid as they supported various armed factions which, inevitably, turned those arms on our men and women in uniform. The ultimate example is, of course, New Yorker columnist Seymour Hersh's discovery that Bush is now “pumping money, a great deal of money, without congressional authority, without any congressional oversight” to “three Sunni jihadist groups” who are “connected to al Qaeda.”

Yes, in case you hadn't heard, we've now come full circle. After cynically using the September 11 terrorist attacks to terrify Americans into supporting an illegal, immoral, and unjustified war against a country that had nothing to do with them, Bush is now funding people allied with the people who attacked us, out of fear of the potential dangers posed by the political and military forces his illegal, immoral, and unjustified war unleashed. I concluded my diary with the following words:
Is there any greater threat to American national security than a Rebublican American administration?
Incredibly, just a day later, the flip side of the story presents itself on the front page of the Washington Post. You see, it's not bad enough that Bush followed Reagan's example by giving our enemies both the means and reasons to fight us, for he's also been undermining our national security from the opposite end. It's nothing we haven't known, but the Post makes it explicitly clear:
Four years after the invasion of Iraq, the high and growing demand for U.S. troops there and in Afghanistan has left ground forces in the United States short of the training, personnel and equipment that would be vital to fight a major ground conflict elsewhere, senior U.S. military and government officials acknowledge.

More troubling, the officials say, is that it will take years for the Army and Marine Corps to recover from what some officials privately have called a "death spiral," in which the ever more rapid pace of war-zone rotations has consumed 40 percent of their total gear, wearied troops and left no time to train to fight anything other than the insurgencies now at hand.

The risk to the nation is serious and deepening, senior officers warn, because the U.S. military now lacks a large strategic reserve of ground troops ready to respond quickly and decisively to potential foreign crises, whether the internal collapse of Pakistan, a conflict with Iran or an outbreak of war on the Korean Peninsula.
Air and naval power can only go so far in compensating for infantry, artillery and other land forces, they said. An immediate concern is that critical Army overseas equipment stocks for use in another conflict have been depleted by the recent troop increases in Iraq, they said.
So, not only has Bush helped create and strengthen our enemies, he's also destroying our ability to fight them. And the ineptitude of our self-styled "war president" has, indeed, strengthened those enemies. Simply put: we're losing two wars at once!

Describing the attempted attack on Vice President Cheney, three weeks ago, when he was visiting Afghanistan, the Washington Post wrote:
Regardless of the intent, the attack demonstrated that insurgents in Afghanistan are becoming increasingly bold, willing to attack a heavily fortified U.S. target in the face of unusually tight security. Additionally, the assault was carried out in a part of the country where the Taliban has relatively little support. The Islamic militia's traditional stronghold has been in the south; Bagram is in the country's central region, about an hour's drive north of Kabul.

"It's pretty striking that they're capable of planning and executing an attack on Bagram on fairly short notice and under changing circumstances. We haven't seen anything like this before," said Daniel Markey, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who until last month worked on South Asia policy at the State Department. "Psychologically, this has to be seen as a serious blow."

Markey said the attack is also an ominous sign with the approach of spring, which is usually accompanied by a heavy escalation in violence as conditions for fighting improve. "Everyone agrees on both sides that this is going to be a bad spring," he said.
Five and a half years after the September 11 attacks, not only have we failed to capture the attack's actual perpetrators, but the radical militants who gave them a safe haven are re-establishing their power.

And, then there's Iraq. As Sydney Blumenthal wrote in Salon:
Deep within the bowels of the Pentagon, policy planners are conducting secret meetings to discuss what to do in the worst-case scenario in Iraq about a year from today if and when President Bush's escalation of more than 20,000 troops fails, a participant in those discussions told me. None of those who are taking part in these exercises, shielded from the public view and the immediate scrutiny of the White House, believes that the so-called surge will succeed. On the contrary, everyone thinks it will not only fail to achieve its aims but also accelerate instability by providing a glaring example of U.S. incapacity and incompetence.

The profoundly pessimistic thinking that permeates the senior military and the intelligence community, however, is forbidden in the sanitized atmosphere of mind-cure boosterism that surrounds Bush. "He's tried this two times -- it's failed twice," Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said on Jan. 24 about the "surge" tactic. "I asked him at the White House, 'Mr. President, why do you think this time it's going to work?' And he said, 'Because I told them it had to.'" She repeated his words: "'I told them that they had to.' That was the end of it. That's the way it is."

On Feb. 2, the National Intelligence Council, representing all intelligence agencies, issued a new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, as harsh an antidote to wishful thinking as could be imagined. "The Intelligence Community judges that the term 'civil war' does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict in Iraq, which includes extensive Shia-on-Shia violence, al-Qaida and Sunni insurgent attacks on Coalition forces, and widespread criminally motivated violence. Nonetheless, the term 'civil war' accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict, including the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities, a sea change in the character of the violence, ethno-sectarian mobilization, and population displacements."
So, Bush is losing two wars, emboldening our enemies, and undermining our military readiness. Of course, the troops are overextended, through Stop-Loss policies that force them to stay remain in uniform well beyond the dates their service was supposed to end. And while they are in service, Bush treats our men and women in uniform as if they are nothing more than characters in video games.

As the New York Times reported, in January, 2006:
A secret Pentagon study has found that at least 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to their upper body could have survived if they had extra body armor. That armor has been available since 2003 but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials.
And little has changed. The troops being sent to fight this escalation that the NIE says won't succeed are not being adequately protected.

From the Washington Post, last month:
The Army is working to fill a shortfall in Iraq of thousands of advanced Humvee armor kits designed to reduce U.S. troop deaths from roadside bombs -- including a rising threat from particularly lethal weapons linked to Iran and known as "explosively formed penetrators" (EFP) -- that are now inflicting 70 percent of the American casualties in the country, according to U.S. military and civilian officials.

The additional protection is needed for thousands of U.S. reinforcement troops flowing into Baghdad, where these devastating weapons -- used primarily by Shiite fighters -- are particularly prevalent, the officials said.

U.S. Army units in Iraq and Afghanistan lack more than 4,000 of the latest Humvee armor kit, known as FRAG Kit 5, according to U.S. officials. The Army has ramped up production of the armor, giving priority to troops in Baghdad, but the upgrade is not scheduled to be completed until this summer, Army officials said. That is well into the timeline for major operations launched last week to quell violence by Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias, which the U.S. military now views as the top security threat in Iraq.
And don't kid yourself that this escalation is some temporary effort. From the New York Times:
The day-to-day commander of American forces in Iraq has recommended that the heightened American troop levels there be maintained through February 2008, military officials said Wednesday.

The White House has never said exactly how long it intends the troop buildup to last, but military officials say the increased American force level will begin declining in August unless additional units are sent or more units are held over.
Yes, you read that correctly: the military wants the escalation to last for a full year, and more troops will need to be sent, or the troops now being sent will have their rotations over-extended! It can't get any worse, can it? With this Administration, of course it can!

As Salon reported, last week:
As the military scrambles to pour more soldiers into Iraq, a unit of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Ga., is deploying troops with serious injuries and other medical problems, including GIs who doctors have said are medically unfit for battle. Some are too injured to wear their body armor, according to medical records.
Is it possible to be more abusive to the men and women who are fighting Bush's wars? Well, of course! Just do a Daily Kos tag search for Walter Reed!

So, it's little wonder that, in addition to Stop-Loss, the military is having to radically lower the bar on its recruitment standards, in order to keep enough men and women in uniform. As the AP reported, in October:
The U.S. Army recruited more than 2,600 soldiers under new lower aptitude standards this year, helping the service beat its goal of 80,000 recruits in the throes of an unpopular war and mounting casualties.

The recruiting mark comes a year after the Army missed its recruitment target by the widest margin since 1979, which had triggered a boost in the number of recruiters, increased bonuses, and changes in standards.
And just last week, Time added:
And as the Iraq war drags into its fifth year next month, the raw material that the Defense Department has been molding into freshly minted troops since 9/11 is becoming a little frayed. That's led the military to boost recruiting incentives, but even that is not always enough. So when the sign-up bonuses don't bring in sufficient bodies, the military has long held its nose and issued a variety of waivers to allow once-barred candidates to join the services.

Not surprisingly, given the grinding ground war in Iraq, the Army and Marine Corps are the two branches issuing the most waivers these days. The Army granted more than double the number of waivers for felonies and misdemeanors in 2006 than it did in 2003, the year of the Iraq invasion, according to just-released Pentagon data. Such waivers allow recruits with criminal records, medical problems or poor aptitude scores to enlist despite problems that otherwise would bar them from service. Most are so-called "moral waivers," which include some felonies, misdemeanors, and drug and traffic offenses. Such waivers grew in the Army from 4,918 in 2003 to 8,129 last year. For the Marines, the total grew only slightly, from 19,195 to 20,750 (the higher Marine total is due largely to its stricter anti-drug rules for recruits).
Also in October, Nick Turse really nailed it, in the San Francisco Chronicle:
In February, the Baltimore Sun wrote that there was "a significant increase in the number of recruits with what the Army terms 'serious criminal misconduct' in their background" -- a category that included "aggravated assault, robbery, vehicular manslaughter, receiving stolen property and making terrorist threats." From 2004 to 2005, the number of those recruits rose by more than 54 percent, while alcohol and illegal drug waivers, reversing a four-year decline, increased by more than 13 percent....

...the Houston Chronicle reported in August that Army recruiters were trolling around the outskirts of a Dallas-area job fair for ex-convicts.

"We're looking for high school graduates with no more than one felony on their record," one recruiter said.
I will now repeat one line from today's Washington Post article:
The risk to the nation is serious and deepening, senior officers warn, because the U.S. military now lacks a large strategic reserve of ground troops ready to respond quickly and decisively to potential foreign crises(!)
So, I will close by repeating my question from yesterday:

Is there any greater threat to American national security than a Rebublican American administration?

No comments: