13 July 2005

What could have been


You should go read an article by Eliot A. Cohen, titled A Hawk Questions Himself as His Son Goes to War. He's a supporter of the war in general, but is deeply angry about the way it is being carried out.

Talking about the long tours of duty and stop-loss orders, he writes:
And all this because after 9/11, when so many Americans asked for nothing but an opportunity to serve, we did not expand our Army and Marine Corps when we could, even though we knew we would need more troops.
I was living in Seattle when 9/11 happened, and I remember when Bush set the tone for how the nation would react. I was hoping that he would call on Americans to build a better America, though volunteering, through carefully safeguarding our civil rights, through promoting the America we thought we all wanted, and yes, through service in the military. Instead, Bush told us to go shopping. I remember the feeling of dismay at the opportunity wasted, and the incompetence of the leadership. This particular failure is one that Americans of all political stripes should be angry about.

Cohen goes on with a list of what he's feeling about the war:
Disbelief at the length of time it took to call an insurgency by its name. Alarm at our continuing failure to promote at wartime speed the colonels and generals who have a talent for fighting it, while also failing to sweep aside those who do not. Incredulity at seeing decorations pinned on the chests and promotions on the shoulders of senior leaders — both civilians and military — who had the helm when things went badly wrong. Disdain for the general who thinks Job One is simply whacking the bad guys and who, ever conscious of public relations, cannot admit that American soldiers have tortured prisoners or, in panic, killed innocent civilians. Contempt for the ghoulish glee of some who think they were right in opposing the war, and for the blithe disregard of the bungles by some who think they were right in favoring it. A desire — barely controlled — to slap the highly educated fool who, having no soldier friends or family, once explained to me that mistakes happen in all wars, and that the casualties are not really all that high and that I really shouldn't get exercised about them.
If you're inclined to knee-jerk dismissal of those who support the war, remember this American's words, and remember that just because someone disagrees with you does not mean that they are neither thoughtful nor without honor.