Last week right after our American mid-term elections, the President decided to send 1,500 American troops to Iraq. I was not alone in wondering aloud why an individual who has been steadfast in removing the American ground presence from Iraq as quickly as possible despite the counter-recommendations from his own military advisors.
This is not a political blog post. For this article, I am completely disinterested in any one’s personal political party or political leanings. My sole focus is on the treatment of our men and women in the military. For the record, I was in favor of sending military forces into Iraq…back in 1990.
There has been much revisionist history regarding Iraq. Our American war in Iraq against Saddam Hussein began back then under President Bush Sr. (Operation Desert Storm), escalated under President Clinton (America’s bombing campaign of Iraq), and increased again under President Bush. That’s both Republican and Democratic presidential administrations determined to remove the terrorist-supporting, nuke-seeking thug known as Saddam Hussein. There were, of course, many Democrats and Republicans against escalating the war under President Bush and I found (and find) none of those reasons illegitimate.
However, the fact is that we, America, sent those men and women into Afghanistan and Iraq, post-911 to do a job. I was angry with President Bush Sr. back then because he was so fixated on keeping his 34-nation coalition against Saddam to kick him out of Kuwait but refused to take the war to Baghdad to oust him. I said then (I think I will make a list of all the predictions I have made in life that have unfortunately come true) that if we didn’t “take Saddam out” that we would be back as a nation in war and it would be bloodier and costlier than we could ever imagine. Well twelve years later that is exactly what happened. Under President Bush Sr., America told anti-Saddam forces to rise up against him and when they did, we abandoned them. America had seized many of Saddam’s tanks and weapons and we returned them to him. Saddam used those very same weapons to kill many of the anti-Saddam resistance that we (America) encouraged to topple him.
The big flaw with America is that we truly don’t understand that region of the world and it is to our detriment. There are tribes, factions and peoples fighting and killing over events that took place decades, centuries and millennia ago. We have the greatest armed forces in the history of the world but if you are going to be involved in the world, know how other people think or your strengths will be nullified.
However, nothing tops my anger at the blatant politics being played with our American soldiers. We lost 4,500 troops in Iraq with over 32,000 wounded—I believe this number is much lower than the true number; over 2,234 in Afghanistan with a “reported” 1,989 wounded. When we say wounded it is not a simple scratch or sprained finger—massive brain injuries, blown off limbs, third-degree burns, paralysis, severe PSTD. Many of these soldiers will need care for their entire lives. If you are a twenty-something, we are talking about intensive care for forty, fifty, maybe sixty years!
Imagine how you would feel after nine years of fighting in Iraq and thirteen in Afghanistan (America’s longest-running official war) being grievously wounded, seeing your fellow soldiers grievously wounded or killed to then see the very same cities on TV you liberated taken over by a terrorist group (ISIS) like nothing. To learn that we knew they were coming for almost two years, to learn we could have killed them all with airstrikes but chose not to, to learn that this terrorist group controls a significant part of the country now and vows to, of course, destroy America and all the other infidels of the world. Why the hell did we fight there if we were going to leave and give it all away to a terrorist group worse than the Al Qaeda responsible for 9-11? Vets will ask: Why am sitting in this wheelchair? Why are my fellow soldiers dead? Yes, I am angry. I am veteran myself but I am thinking of them.
Politics in war is nothing new but President Obama has broken a pact with the servicemen of this country. I am a political animal but this has nothing to do with political parties. Again, I was just as turned off by President Bush Sr. for the same reasons, though to a much lesser intensity. Our soldiers died for and were wounded for nothing. The Iraq War was for nothing. There is no other way to spin it.
If America, through its leaders, is going to be so capricious with our military men and women, then do not send them anywhere! I already have it in my science fiction novels. Build the damn humanoid robot soldiers and send them and drones instead. If we do send our military men and women anywhere then Republicans and Democrats must be required to get in a room together and sign in blood that one party will not undo the work of the other over petty politics. Obama seems to have forgotten that he is not a senator or a candidate on the campaign trail making all kinds of wild promises like so many candidates before and after him. He is the Commander-in-Chief and that supersedes any politics of the Democratic Party. In the foxhole, there is no race or ethnicity, no gender or political party; there is only American. That is the spirit that I’m writing this post in.
So my fellow veterans, I must apologize to you sincerely and deeply. I can’t shake the feeling that we don’t have the political framework worthy of you. If we did, your war sacrifices would not have been in vain and domestically things such as the VA scandal would never have been allowed to happen–medical care withheld and veterans died due to bureaucratic incompetence and, worse, willful manipulation of the numbers to hide those in need. In terms of our political leaders, where have all the grown-ups gone?
It is Veteran’s Day today and I salute all of you from WWII to the Korean War, from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan. Again, we volunteered to serve our country; we didn’t volunteer where our Commanders-in-Chief would send us. We have nothing to do with the politics. We go where we’re told and should be respected without hesitation. I salute you–always.
What do you think about all this?
#Veterans #Vets #Military #VeteransDay #America #Iraq #Afghanistan
Austin Dragon is the author of over 20 books in science fiction, fantasy, and classic horror. His works include the cyberpunk detective LIQUID COOL series, the epic fantasy FABLED QUEST CHRONICLES, the international epic AFTER EDEN Series, the classic SLEEPY HOLLOW HORRORS, and new military sci-fi PLANET TAMERS series. He is a native New Yorker but has called Los Angeles, California home for more than twenty years. Words to describe him, in no particular order: U.S. Army, English teacher, one-time resident of Paris, ex-political junkie, movie buff, Fortune 500 corporate recruiter, renaissance man, futurist, and dreamer.