Thursday, July 13, 2006

Attention Veterans

NanceGreggs's Journal: Nance Rants
Posted by NanceGreggs in General Discussion: Politics
Wed Jul 12th 2006, 10:10 PM
"Supporting The Troops - A Study in Contradiction"
By Nancy Greggs

As the GOP is so fond of saying in the face of any topic being raised these days, “You can’t have it both ways.”

“Either you side with the president, or you side with the terrorists. Either you are with America, or you are with Al Qeada. If you do not support this war, you don’t support the troops.”

Well, it’s time someone pointed out something that has become abundantly clear in the way this war is being waged, and the way our troops are being treated. You either SUPPORT the troops, OR you support those who are overseeing the conduct of this war. And no, you CANNOT have it both ways.

During the course of the War in Iraq, under the Republican-run government, we have seen the gutting of benefits and pensions of US soldiers, and a flagrant disregard for their on-the-ground safety. While literally billions of dollars are being spent on this endeavor (much of it slipped into the pockets of Halliburton with a wink and a nod in place of any real accounting), our troops have been sent into combat without body armor, without vehicle armor, without helmet-inserts that could mean the difference between life and death, the difference between a debilitating brain injury and a headache.

Where is the outrage? Well, you might well ask. While the Republicans continue to wrap themselves in thousands of “Support the Troops” bumperstickers, while they vote for ever-expanding funding (to the tune of billions of dollars per week) for the ongoing combat, I have yet to hear one of them express their anger at the fact the troops they allegedly support are showering in fetid water, are dealing with the constant concern that their wives and children are facing financial crises back home, or are coming to terms with the idea that in the vast expenditures being made in this war, their safety and comfort is at the bottom of the list of priorities.

While I, as all of us, have had to sit through the vociferous arguments touted by the Republicans who control the war purse-strings, I have not heard word one about the casualties that could be avoided at a cost of a few thousand dollars per soldier (body armor plus a helmet insert), which obviously are considered too trivial an expenditure in the great scheme of things.

I will admit that while I try to stay current with the news, I may have missed a few things here and there. Maybe I was sleeping when the same GOPers who rail about supporting the troops held their press conference about ensuring that our military was fully equipped with every possible piece of life-saving equipment. Perhaps I was out of town when the Republicans who voted to slash pensions and benefits to those in combat explained how this was actually ‘support’. Yeah, maybe.

While the same people who talk about supporting the troops drone on and on, they simultaneously support an administration that not only condones but embraces the policies of torture and humiliation at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, policies that put our own captured troops in jeopardy of receiving the same treatment at the hands of the enemy. Call me crazy (and many will), but THAT doesn’t sound like supporting the troops to me. But I, as they say, stand to be corrected in that regard.

And there is a bigger concept to be considered here. At the beginning of this war, many pundits and political observers (most of them Conservative right-wingers) quickly pointed to the fact that as casualties mounted, public support for this war would wane. That just begs the question as to why the president, his advisors, and those who support them have not insisted on every life-saving precaution being taken in order to keep the number of US troop casualties to a minimum – if not out of a sense of concern for our military, at least in deference to the more-important, it would seem, PR consequences.

Less than a thousand dollars worth of body armor and the $71 cost of a helmet insert per soldier could easily have kept the number of casualties down. From a purely dollars-and-cents perspective, being that a severely injured soldier represents hundreds of thousands of dollars in life-long care weighed against a relatively paltry investment in the proper equipment, logic would dictate where the fiscal, if not moral, wise investment lies. And yet we hear no such argument from the Support-The-Troops crowd, and one wonders why.

Was it determined in the bowels of the White House, early on in the game, that thousands of casualties could be turned into an ‘investment’ that the American people would not readily walk away from, as opposed to a small number of deaths that were easily translatable into “Let’s cut our losses and go home”? Was it decided, from a psy-ops point of view, that an investor who has only lost a few bucks on a bad stock will ‘cut and run’ faster than one who has lost a substantial amount, and thus can be convinced that his only hope of a return on his investment is to ‘stay the course’ and hope for the best?

If someone has a more plausible explanation as to why EVERY precaution has not been taken to ensure the safety of our troops, I would be more than happy to hear it.

It seems obvious to me, and I would suggest that recent poll numbers reflect that I am not alone in my view, that supporting the troops and supporting this president and his administration are an overwhelming contradiction in terms.

Either you support the troops, OR you support those who have been detrimental to their well-being, both in combat and upon their return to civilian life.

The battle lines have been clearly drawn.

Whose side are you on, America? As we have been told time and time again, you can’t have it both ways.

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