Tuesday, December 06, 2005

No pictures, back to complaints

OK, enough pictures, back to political rants and ravings. Those of you that are Republicans or are not from the US can just move on by and ignore this.

The husband of a friend has just returned from his year in Iraq. Yes, National Guard out ‘guarding our nation’. Huh. OK, we can for now skip why we are there, but you #$%^ Republican politicians should know that just saying ‘look forward not back’ does not make us forget, and we hopefully will all remember come the next few elections.

Last week there were some news stories about reporters interviewing servicemen stationed in Iraq and every single one they spoke with was happy to be there, and felt that it was the right thing to do, we were defending our country, and doing a lot of good to a place that an evil dictator had destroyed. My daughter innocently enough believed all of this crap, ever the one to argue, and as most commentators were saying, repeated the idea that if the warriors felt we should be there then why leave before the job was done? My response: how can you really think those guys would be honest when talking on camera? When their bosses would see them?

How many of you talk loudly about problems where you work when your boss is around, or how incompetent management was? I was in the service, I know what would happen. Sure, soldiers are free to speak their mind. But I guarantee that anybody that spoke negatively would soon find things a little different. If Fred spoke out against the war then the future would be full of:

OK, we are out of brushes and need somebody to lick the toilets clean; thanks for volunteering Fred
We think there is a bomb behind that door, and need somebody to push it open; thanks for volunteering Fred
The married guys are going to get two weeks leave to go see their families, but we really need somebody to stay behind and watch things; thanks for volunteering Fred
Our group’s year is up, and we will soon be flying back to the states on rotation, but need somebody to stay behind for another year and train the new guys; thanks for volunteering Fred
Our troop was issued new bomb resistant body armor, but the shipment was one set short for the group, so we need somebody to keep wearing the old stuff that doesn’t really resist the new bullets; thanks for volunteering Fred. Oh, please walk out there onto that field and we’ll see if our assumptions were correct.

Get the picture? Anybody that speaks up will soon be the person that ‘volunteers’ for every miserable job. It’s the same everywhere, what’s the expression, the tall blade gets cut back to match all the rest? Yea, I’ll believe those guys really love it there after they speak out when they return.

Well, our friend has returned, and somehow my position has been supported. Too bad the reporters don’t talk to the people coming back and getting out. He talked about the low moral, having to eat cold MREs (Meal Ready to Eat) constantly because the military doesn’t want a crowd to gather in a mess hall. That Thanksgiving shot last year (didn’t see it this year) of Chaney having turkey with the troops, in a tent, at a table with lots of food? Yea, for the hundred guys that got picked for the photo op (no, not Fred of course) for just the one meal. Do you really think they eat like that all the time?

Ever read about the suicide rate among the troops? Our friend knows of 45 suicides over there, just among the larger group he was with for the one year. Spread that out over the full supporting group.

The reenlistment rate is up – soldiers are volunteering to stay for another year. Right. Who’s staying? The younger guys, with no family and no life back home. Most of them joined because of the lack of future in their home town. The older guys want out. Our friend was initially offered $10,000 to re-up, raised to 15 then $20,000. He still declined.

All those TV commercials about enlisting to get training, maybe be a nurse or technician. Right. Learn how to shoot a rifle and avoid being blown up. Enough nursing to learn how to tie off that foot that was just blown off until you can get airlifted to the hospital.

Life is better there now without Sadam. Right. How long have we been there, how many billions on reconstruction? And even the capital doesn’t have power and water every day?

We treat prisoners better. Yea. Listen to excerpts from the Sadam trial – questioning prisoners of that time. Were dogs used? Photos taken of naked prisoners? Piles of nude prisoners? Electricity applied to get you to talk? Hung from the ceiling for days? Wrapped in tarps and beaten? Yes for some of these, but Abu Grabe sounds as if the old guards are still there today, maybe even worse, as now the CIA can fly you off to Bulgaria and you disappear forever.

We are training the local troops to replace us. Sure. Our friend’s job was to train the Iraqis. A little challenging as there were no interpreters and none of them spoke English. Of those that showed up. On one day he might have ten show up out of the three hundred assigned, and he was surprised if the same ones came back. One of his best students ended up being the guy that planted the mess hall bomb. Some student. Even our generals are finally testifying about how few troops are available. A news story on PBS radio a few days ago discussed policemen in some middle size town. Out of five hundred trained and recruited less than a hundred would show up for work, and not all of those were willing to go out and do anything. What do our troops get, two months of basic training – how many years have we had over there, and how many divisions of Iraqi troops are in the field (and showing up for work consistently?)

The Iraqis want us there. Right. Troops only go off base in armor, in groups, usually in armored vehicles. As if they could walk off base for a cup of coffee or something. Sure. If the ‘terrorist’ were such a small minority among the population that wanted us then that small group would have been turned in or shot long ago.

The government always tells the truth. Now that is a real good one. At Condi’s news conference yesterday she responded to questions about CIA transporting prisoners to other countries. Her line was (sorry, just heard it, haven’t seen it in print so don’t have the direct quote) ‘We have never transported anybody for the purpose of torture’. Right, that is not the purpose of the confinement; it’s to get answers. And besides, we do not torture prisoners. The CIA does not define drowning or electric shock or beatings as torture, just normal methods of interrogation. When you are the one making up the definition of what torture is then you can define it any way you want to. ‘Torture is pulling out the fingernail on the left thumb of a prisoner standing on his head on the second Tuesday of the month when a bucket is over his head and a dog is chewing on his leg.’ Well, we use all of the buckets on the first Tuesday of every month to wash the general’s cars, so there, proof that we don’t torture anybody.

It’s nothing like Viet Nam, how could it be compared to that? Right, at least there we had a definite goal, a plan and a result we could point to. (didn’t we?) Besides, there were a lot more trees in Viet Nam. And we didn’t give up when 2,000 troops died, we waited until over 50,000 were killed.

We got rid of Sadam and his troops, the only stabilizing force there. We are now in the middle of a civil war, with a lot of anger being thrown at us as well. No matter how long we stay, no matter how may replacements we train, the civil war will spring out when we leave.

Talk to somebody that has been there. Take him/her out for a cup of coffee and some quiet time. See what they talk about. Find out why they are back here and not over there again.

OK, enough of my political ravings. Every once in a while I need somebody to complain to, and for some reason my wife agrees with me, so I can’t argue at home. And you guys don’t argue back. If you do I can just delete your comments anyway. (if I ever learn how to do the deletions, that is).

Wow, I just read that and it sure sounds as if I'm rambling. Guess I was, so many pictures flying through my head. I'm mad and don't see anything that I can do about it.

Those of you in the UK, anybody there have a returning military person to talk to? The rest of the world, you were smart to stay away.

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