Tuesday, May 03, 2005

To The Troops

I have been noting to myself the many parallels between the Vietnam and Iraq wars and wondering how to express it in a blog entry. In the news all the tough news about the fighting was mixed with batches of official optimism, just as we see today. We have come far enough from that experience that these nuances are now lost on a population that is too young to remember. Bernard Weiner expresses some of what I have been thinking.
"In this, and in so many other ways, Iraq resembles Vietnam. It took a good share of a decade until the citizenry at home and the troops on the ground in 'Nam came to realize and admit that their government had taken them into an immoral and unwinnable war. They began to organize to oppose that war and negotiate a face-saving way out. In the end, the guerrillas won and the U.S. exited hastily, a much embarrassed superpower.

There are signs that the opposition to this war is developing further, faster, both inside the U.S. and in Iraq. Desertion rates are way up, fewer troops (especially among the overused and abused Reserves and National Guard forces sent to Iraq) are re-upping, military recruitment is way down, support for the war is falling rapidly in the polls, even many conservatives and military personnel think we're engaged in the wrong war at the wrong time in the wrong place.

Nobody wants to die for a mistake (or for a bad policy decision), but until the U.S. finds a quick way out of Iraq, that's the position you and your buddies are placed in over there. Granted, you signed up for the military and thus have even less leverage than draftees in terms of opposing the war. But know that your fellow citizens at home pay great attention to what the troops on the ground say and do. (Just one soldier asking Rumsfeld why the grunts weren't receiving proper body armor had a great impact.)"
Update: The party line on the right is that soldiers by and large are content with or even support the actions of the current administration (hswib). As a counter to that hypothesis Yahoo! News reports that recruitment targets are not being met across the board. It could be that the targets are not realistic or it could be... that the unpopularity of the Iraq War is showing in diminished recruitments.

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