Monday, October 08, 2007

Heroes Or The Decline Of A Nation

As a young boy, like many other young American boys, I grew up admiring heroes like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Randolf Scott, John Wayne and Audie Murphy to name a few. Many of my fondest memory's are of going to the drive-in movies and watching bigger than life heroes up on the silver screen duking it out with the bad guys and saving our country. You better believe that, if Friday nights were at the drive-in then it was going to be Saturdays in the fields and woods near the house in a make believe world of cowboy's and soldiers. And if I had a spare moment, when no one was around, I could be found going through the boxes and trunks filled with my fathers old uniforms and photo albums. As I'd rummage through musty uniforms, badges and pictures and travel in those make believe worlds it seemed to me that it was as much my father and grandfather whipping the bad guys and saving their fellow soldiers as it was Roy or Audie. At any rate it was no great leap for me to see my father and grandfather doing all of those heroic things up on that big screen. I think that the reason it wasn't such a great leap was because I was living in that time shortly after World War II when patriotic fervor still bubbled in the land. The country had survived the great depression and beaten the axis powers and had even conquered polio and we were Americans doing the right thing in the world and my family had been part of that experience. I was so very proud.

Today we don't have those hero's. No they are all gone and the ones we should have are too busy taking drugs and or driving drunk. Yeah I don't think Nick Nolte is any Randolph Scott and Mel Gibson is certainly no Audie Murphy. And by the way don't look at sports figures either because when it comes to the Roger Maris' or Mickey Mantles most of the ones that took their places are taking steroids and beating up other people if not their own wives and children. And what about the soldiers, well I haven't seen a George Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, or even a Omar Bradley lately and if there was one of those around I'm certain they would have been fired by now. But most importantly we don't have the "genuine" patriotic fervor that we had in those years during and after World War II. We don't have that sense of knowing we are Americans and that we really do know right from wrong and we really do know about sacrifice and duty and honor and country. No we have lost all of that and it is our fault. Our very own fault. We can point fingers at the politicians in Washington and say it's all their fault. That's the easy excuse and also not the truth. We have become a nation of lazy self indulgent hedonist. As a nation we have lost our moral compass and those in Washington are simply a reflection of that loss and self indulgence.

As I look back over the last 6 years I see that our government has served only to bring clarity to this reality. We can look at the incompetence of our intelligence agencies and the deception and malice of the president and his administration and we know that we have elected and allowed the appointment that incompetence, deception, and malice. We can look at the congress and their failures to perform their constitutional duties and their willingness to accept money and favors from anyone willing to pay for influence and know that we elected the spineless greedy people occupying those offices. But what is most sad is that as we sit here in our comfortable recliners and gape at the world through a rose colored idiot box we are allowing thousands upon thousands of Iraqis and Afghans to die and thousands of American soldiers to die and thousands upon thousands of all of these people and soldiers to be wounded and maimed and we sit.

We sat and thought an unnecessary preemptive invasion was the final straw; and then we sat and thought Guantanamo was the final straw; and then we sat and thought Abu Grahib was the final straw; and then we sat and thought warrant-less wire tapping was the last straw; and then we sat and thought that Blackwater was the final straw and then we sat............ My grandfather served in World War I and my grandmother and my uncle and my father served in World War II and my father served again in Korea. I served in Vietnam and that was a tragedy beyond words but what we as a nation have wrought and continue to execute in Iraq is beyond anything anyone could ever explain much less justify or condone. I am proud of my families service in every conflict this nation has been engage in since the Revolutionary War but I am just as proud that we have not served in this conflict in which we are now engaged. Do not misunderstand. I was and am and always will be a soldier and I am very proud of our soldiers that are now serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, they serve with honor and courage and for their country, but I am not, not proud of our "nation's" actions in this war. Is it not so very sad that I, one who served his country for 27 year, must write a qualifier at the end of my contemplations on the state of our nation.

Those Are The Sergeant Major's Thoughts On That.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

When? – Or Why I Love Soldiers

I love American Soldiers! It's not because I come from a family of soldiers or even because I was one for 27 years. I love them because they choose to do something not many people choose to do or are capable of doing. They choose to serve their country by putting themselves in harms way to defend our constitution.

I continually hear politicians and pundits say you can't not support the troops. I hear them say if you criticize the war in Iraq you're criticizing the troops and if you say we're loosing the war in Iraq it demoralizes the troops and you're not supporting them. It is my thought that those politicians and pundits are dead wrong. You can criticize the war, and you can say we are loosing the war and doing so is not criticizing the troops and it is not demoralizing the troops because the troops are doing what they signed up to do. They are serving their nation and defending the constitution and defending our constitutional right to voice our opinions and criticize our government and it's actions.

We are not fighting in Iraq because 169,000 American soldiers decided we should invade a country without provocation and we are not loosing the war in Iraq because our soldiers are not doing the job on the battlefield. In fact it is quite the contrary. One man, who is not a soldier, decided we would preemptively invade another country and then lied to the nation to get us to do it and one man failed to set a realistic policy and failed to plan appropriately and that is why the nation is loosing the war.

No it is not the citizens of this nation who oppose this war who are demoralizing our soldiers. It is not the citizens of this country who say we are not winning the war who are demoralizing our soldiers. No it is not the citizens of this country who are not supporting the soldiers. It is one man and his associates who are demoralizing and not supporting the soldiers. It is George W. Bush and his administration.

The President of the United States was given a sacred trust in that when elected to office he became the Commander in Chief and was given the responsibility of leading our nations armed forces. He has violated that trust. He lied to take us to war. He took us to war without a coherent policy. He took us to war without a coherent plan and he took us to war without proper preparation and most heinous of all he continues to execute a war without a coherent policy or plan or the necessary equipment and that is what is demoralizing troops.

I love our soldiers because in spite of all that they are enduring at the hands foreign hostile forces and of our own president they continue to put themselves in harms way for our constitution and our country. They continue to bleed and endure hell on earth for our nation and their president is too arrogant and too stubborn to even care. He didn't care during Vietnam and he doesn't care now. Do we expect anything more?

When will our Congress act to bring this travesty to an end?

Those Are The Sergeant Major's Thoughts On That.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Fools Errand – Or Why The General Embarrasses Me

The testimony provided to Congress by General Petraeus over the last few days has embarrassed and saddened me. I saw a dedicated, professional officer focused on his mission but I also saw something else that I wish I had never seen. I saw a soldier letting down his soldiers in the most basic way.

As I watched General Petraeus brief members of the Congress and the Senate I saw a soldier doing his duty and presenting the situation in Iraq in simple, stark military terminology but I also saw an officer who, in spite of what I believe are the best of good intentions, is letting his soldiers down in the most basic way. This was brought home to me with laser clarity as I listened to his very simple response to Senator Warner's question; Is the war in Iraq making us safer at home? The Generals answer was very telling. “I don't know.” The very fact that he said that so simply made me realize that he was at that very moment coming to realize how badly he had and was letting his soldiers down. Simply put, no leader would ever lead his or her soldiers into combat without knowing two basic things. First, that the battle can and will be won and second that it is for the defense of the constitution and the nation. (Please note that I did not use the divisive and personally distasteful term “homeland”.)

There is no doubt in my mind that if General Petraeus believed that the war in Iraq was making America safer he would have unhesitatingly stated so unequivocally and succinctly in response to the Senators question. He didn't and that told the rest of the story.

In 2003 George W. Bush took our nation to war under false pretenses. He did this in spite of the advice of senior Generals and he in fact fired those officers who dared to speak against the invasion. As a result of his bloated ego and lack of world view and understanding we entered a conflict we were ill prepared to execute and unprepared to see through. Since that preemptive invasion the mission in Iraq has continued to morph and change with the whims of that self same President. All along more and more Americans and Iraqi's die as our nations blood and wealth is poured into the deserts of Iraq. And our once seemingly bright though certainly tarnished image in the world has been decimated.

I believe General Patraeus' testimony should serve to remind us of a few things. It should serve to remind us all of how we came to be where we are in Iraq. It should also serve to remind of where we stand in the world and how very difficult it will be to both extract forces from Iraq and to rebuild our credibility and honor. Most importantly it should serve to remind our Congress that in 2006 we put them in office to fulfill their constitutional duty of defending the constitution and that they must exercise their constitutional duty of checks and balances and force the president to extract our forces from Iraq in the most expedient and safe manner possible. No we cannot walk away and yes we must leave a stable Iraq but that requires both a plan and leadership. This president has failed and continues to fail to provide either of those things. It therefore falls to our duly elected Congress to provide both. We Americans, whatever our political leanings, must realize that, yes George W. Bush and his cohorts got us into this mess but it will take the will of the people holding our elected officials accountable to get us out of it. It is not going to be easy. It is not going to be pretty and neither the left nor the right will be completely satisfied but we must leave a stable Iraq and yes that is possible.

Those Are The Sergeant Major's Thoughts On That.