Feb 19, 2007

When Supporting the Troops With Magnetic Ribbons & Rhetoric is Not Enough. (Another Inconvenient Truth)

The Troops Belong to All of Us
UPDATED, 2/23 (below)
War Casualties in detailed numbers, here.

Supporting the troops means different things to different people. Normally, I wouldn't bother arguing with the morons who say everyone who's against the Iraq war is not supporting the troops and is giving comfort to the enemy. Usually, those people are either war profiteers, or confuse the meanings of loyalty, duty, patriotism and dissent. Many others, just wear an American flag lapel, and put a magnetic sticker on their cars but haven't done much else to make sure our troops are indeed supported, beyond the rhetoric.

I wonder how many Americans actually want to know what exactly goes on in Iraq. Yes, sometimes depictions of violence and its aftermath should be more readily available to the public. Why? Because the sanitized view of a horrific event only helps to perpetuate the horrors. Why isn't most of the media covering the war as it happens--not as a general abstraction--with all the unpleasant details. The American public has been misled about this war of choice, and although today most of us want this war to end, the administration and many elected representatives--some of them with presidential aspirations--are arguing for an escalation instead of a quick end!

How come those in charge of this horrible situation have not been shamed to crawl under a rock or chased out of town? Every American should read this article in the Washington Post about our troops being neglected, here at home! We know that this administration went into the occupation of Iraq with no realistic plan and without providing our troops with the armor they needed. We now have over 3,150 dead and well over 25,000 injured, many severely--like double amputees. Let's not forget that every one of the dead was a person who'll never experience all those good things in life the rest of us take for granted. Look into their faces and weep.

Wait, save some of your tears for this:
Behind the door of Army Spec. Jeremy Duncan's room, part of the wall is torn and hangs in the air, weighted down with black mold. When the wounded combat engineer stands in his shower and looks up, he can see the bathtub on the floor above through a rotted hole. The entire building, constructed between the world wars, often smells like greasy carry-out. Signs of neglect are everywhere: mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses.

This is the world of Building 18, not the kind of place where Duncan expected to recover when he was evacuated to Walter Reed Army Medical Center from Iraq last February with a broken neck and a shredded left ear, nearly dead from blood loss. But the old lodge, just outside the gates of the hospital and five miles up the road from the White House, has housed hundreds of maimed soldiers recuperating from injuries suffered in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

By Dana Priest and Anne Hull Washington Post Staff Writers, Sunday, 2/18/07
[read the entire article]

When you're done weeping, make sure you don't remain silent. Make sure you understand your obligation as a citizen to be informed and be active in the affairs of our nation. Let no one manipulate your patriotism for their gain. The last resort of a scoundrel is an appeal to patriotism. As MLK said, Our lives begin to end the moment we become silent about things that matter.



Update, 2/20
I read Paul Krugman's piece in the NYT (2/19/07), but I failed to include his points earlier in this post. John at AmericaBlog didn't miss it. This is why, Wrong is Right, is worth reading.

..For the last six years we have been ruled by men who are pathologically incapable of owning up to mistakes. And this pathology has had real, disastrous consequences. The situation in Iraq might not be quite so dire — and we might even have succeeded in stabilizing Afghanistan — if Mr. Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney had been willing to admit early on that things weren’t going well or that their handpicked appointees weren’t the right people for the job....

The base is remarkably forgiving toward Democrats who supported the war. But the base and, I believe, the country want someone in the White House who doesn’t sound like another George Bush. That is, they want someone who doesn’t suffer from an infallibility complex, who can admit mistakes and learn from them....

Mrs. Clinton’s problem. For some reason she and her advisers failed to grasp just how fed up the country is with arrogant politicians who can do no wrong. I don’t think she falls in that category; but her campaign somehow thought it was still a good idea to follow Karl Rove’s playbook, which says that you should never, ever admit to a mistake. And that playbook has led them into a political trap...

This is the Iraq we don't see. Iraq: The Hidden Story, is UK Channel 4's documentary of the harsh reality. It poses some serious questions as to what people whose country is involved in a war should know about the horrors of war... [warning: this 48-minute long video displays graphic violence]

UPDATE 2/23
Apparently this story of neglect and disrespect has touched many nerves. The top brass has apologized for the mess at Walter Reed Medical facilities. One day, the president (through his spokesman) is aware of the situation, the next he doesn't know anything about it. Now, the Army Surgeon General, Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, is accusing the Post and all those who shed light into this black hole that the story is based on a "pack of lies." Oh, I see. "But, remember, more than half [the soldiers'] rooms were perfectly OK." He said. What a knucklehead!

In line with the rhetoric, "Support the Troops," the top brass says, those problems that are based ..on a pack of lies will be fixed asap. That is, while the 600,000 claims for disability are being sorted out. Oh, I forgot, the medical benefits of the National Guard troops run out a month after they return from the front.

21 comments:

A.m said...

Did you see Condie changing her tune now, telling the troops that a disagreement about the Iraq policy doesn't mean we don't support the troops.

"And some do not think that this was the right war to fight, and others think that we in the Administration haven’t fought this war quite right. By the way, all of them know that the sacrifice and the labor of our men and women here has been honorable."

I think this is too little too late. And, I'm not sure all members of BushCo share this view as they keep saying criticizing the president and his warmongering gives comfort to the enemy.

am said...

And so when you hear the criticism of the war or the criticism of the President or of me or of anybody else, I do want you to know that to a person at home, your honor and your sacrifice and your labor is appreciated. People know what you’re doing and it’s appreciated across the board. I don’t care what people think of the policies; it’s appreciated across the board.....

Sorry, this was the rest of her comment. I thought I should include it.

drew said...

All those crapbags in DC who can do something about stopping this delusional administration are almost as equally responsible for causing more harm and suffering to America.

The US Senate failed to get 60 votes (damn Repubs and Lieberman) to pass the resolution against the war. Bravo to Pelosi and the House for doing so. History is taking notes about who's doing what for America.

Can't wait for the 2008 elections. We must elect someone to get us out of this mess right away, because this stubborn sob won't do so before he leaves office.

kelly said...

They not only broke the armed forces but they broke our VA hospitals....

"The common perception of Walter Reed is of a surgical hospital that shines as the crown jewel of military medicine. But 5 1/2 years of sustained combat have transformed the venerable 113-acre institution into something else entirely -- a holding ground for physically and psychologically damaged outpatients. Almost 700 of them -- the majority soldiers, with some Marines -- have been released from hospital beds but still need treatment or are awaiting bureaucratic decisions before being discharged or returned to active duty."

From the same WaPo article.

concerned said...

"We've done our duty. We fought the war. We came home wounded. Fine. But whoever the people are back here who are supposed to give us the easy transition should be doing it,"

Sgt. Ryan Groves, 26, an amputee who lived at Walter Reed for 16 months

Anonymous said...

Yes, the broke the armed forces and we can't fight in Afghanistan now. Did you notice the Taliban and Al Qaeda are coming back there?

anderson said...

NYT, 2/19/07. Terror Officials See Qaeda Chiefs Regaining Power.

I thought the point was to punish and eliminate those responsible for 9-11. No?

F&cking BusCo. And, shame on those who've enabled the decider!

sam said...

Oh, don't get me started with Hillary. I don't understand why she can't flat out say, I was wrong! And, we (many) Democrats failed to examine all the evidence and stand up to this bellicose president.

brent said...

I read the entire WaPo article and clicked on several of the links in your post. I did weep, and I'm a grown man, but I feel awful that so many people had to be sacrificed unnecessarily. Yes, the troops belong to all of us, and we shouldn't stand for abusing them, either abroad or at home.

Anonymous said...

It's the patriot's duty to criticize his government when he feels it's doing something wrong.

We all bear responsibility for this war. The evidence was there but we wanted to believe our commander-in-chief.

Andros said...

I think the media failed to do its job of seeking the truth. Perhaps it didn't want to go against the public sentiment and Congress. But, after all the facts came out, the abundance of evidence, the wrong turn the war had taken after "Mission Accomplished"... and yet, the country voted to re-elect Bush! This is simply stupid and unforgiveable.

marine6 said...

You did not mention that the members of the Guards lost their health benefits one month after returning from the war. Talking about taking care & supporting our troops.....

We should remind the people that when Rumsfeld was confronted by our troops in IRaq why they had to go to junk yards to look for scrap metal (for makeshift armor), he replied, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you'd like.....

blackadder said...

With the increase in the complexity of the world, the new venues of information and the ability to collect information, the media's failure in pursuing the truth and bringing to light the important issues is even more important. Its failures are harmful to our democratic society.

I ask, is it possible for a democratic society to remain so if there's no free media? Conversly, can it remain so if the media is indifferent or fails to investigate the powers that be?

blue said...

Horrific video. I don't know if such scenes should be shown on national tv. Too graphic. I understand the need for shocking people into seeing the horrors of war, but I don't know what's the best way....

Is it too much blood? Would that lose its impact if we watch it every day?

For me, seeing, studying the faces of the fallen was a very moving experience. All those people.... I feel very sad....

roger said...

I'm not from America, but my country used to be part of the "coalition forces"... What are those magnetic stickers?

Andros said...

Oh, there are those people who have purchased those magnetic ribbons that stick onto vehicles that say "Support the Troops."

It's not clear what this really means, except that buying those ribbons actually supports some Chinese factory that's producing them.

I don't know anyone who is against the troops, against cancer, against evil... (unless evil--like torture--is used as a means to YOUR ends).

So, what happened? Why did your country pull out of the coalition of the willing?

roger said...

Italy. We got rid of Berlusconi. It seemed that democracy was not advancing fast enough in Iraq for the impatient Italians!

Ciao

PS. Enjoyed reading your blog. For a while we thought liberalism was dead in America. I lived there as a student under Bush (the old one) and Clinton.

Rowan said...

These are some good news. The Army is fixing patients' housing.

Jeremy Bentham said...

Wow, man, didn't expect this new look. I was here a couple days ago, you know, when you had the "lighthouse" template. But, I do like this new look. It appears cleaner, and more.... I don't know, first impression is good.

Did you add more stuff on the narrow column?

Yeah, I have to say that the subject matter and your writing are very interesting. Glad to see liberalism is alive and kicking in the US.

aussie expat said...

I agree with what you say about the government being pro-active. It has a role to educate and mobilize public support for worthwhile causes, like doing our part in protecting the environment, lessen our impact on it, and hopefully slow if not reverse global warming.

Tuli said...

The horrors of the Walter Reed situation are the GOP’s version of supporting our troops. After Katrina and the ensuing, and continuing, debacle why is anyone surprised about this? Why are the repeated displays of callousness and indifference by this administration met with shock? When “We” bomb Iran will we all be shocked?

As to the Magnetic Yellow Ribbon phenomena take a look at this very hilarious take on it.

http://tulitalks.blogspot.com/2006/11/yellow-ribbons-on-suv_29.html

Tragedy is the basis for all comedy.

There is, however, no comedy coming from the tragedy at Walter Reed.