September 7th, 2006
It is impossible to put a precise figure on the number of American troops who have left the army as a result of the US involvement in Iraq. The Pentagon says that a total of 40,000 troops have deserted their posts (not simply those serving in Iraq) since the year 2000.
Well gee, I wonder WHY these brave men and women would desert? Our armed forces are 100% volunteer, after all. Is it that they don't want to defend America? Did they just pussy out?
After fighting for seven months in Iraq, he came home bloodied from combat. With a Purple Heart that showed his sacrifice – and seriously opened his eyes. "When I joined, I wanted to fight," he says. "I wanted to see combat. I wanted to be a hero. I wanted to save people. I wanted to protect my country." But soon after he arrived in Iraq, he tells me, he realised that the Iraqis did not want him there, and he heard harsh tales that surprised and distressed him.
"Soldiers were describing to me how they had beaten prisoners to death," he says. "There were three guys and one said, ‘I kicked him from this side of the head while the other guy kicked him in the head and the other guy punched him, and he just died.’ People I knew. They were boasting about it, about how they had beaten people to death." He says it again: "Boasting about how they had beaten people to death. They are trained killers now. Their friends had died in Iraq. So they weren’t the people they were before they went there."
Okay, so Iraq is a total disaster. But what about the threat of terrorism? What about Al Qaida, those guys who executed 9/11?
Many of the deserters are not pacifists or against war per se, but they view the Iraq war as simply wrong. Lt Watada, for instance, said he would face prison rather than serve in Iraq, though he was prepared to pack his bags for Afghanistan to fight in a war that he considers just.
Oh, so they DO want to defend America. They just don't think, based on *actually serving on the front lines,* that invading and occupying Iraq has anything to do with defending America! That invading and occupying Iraq... is not battling terrorism!
Hm, very puzzling... so then why is it that those people who claim to love America the most... claim to want to defend it the most... claim to be against terrorism the most... claim to support the soldiers the most... are so very gung-ho about the war in Iraq? And continue to support it in the face of continents worth of evidence showing that invasion of Iraq was total bullshit, and zero evidence showing that occupying Iraq is actually making America safer?
Could it be... they're completely wrong? And have been so from the start? And us Liberals were right all along? Nah! That couldn't be...
Now, after five years of futile efforts by the Pakistani government, they’ve signed a deal in which they promise to walk away if the Taliban behave themselves. It is a Pakistani surrender. They got beat, and now they are walking away. But Waziristan — Talibanistan — is still legally under Pakistani sovereignty. So any US military action there will be a violation of same. And any tacit acquiescence by Pakistan’s military dictator, General Perfez Musharaf, would most likely bring down the general’s government. In other words, Al Qaeda and the Taliban have traded Afghanistan for Waziristan, and in the process gained a huge advantage: we dare not attack them there for fear of bringing Musharraf down.
Why are so we worried about General Musharraf? Because the Pakistanis have at least 15, and perhaps as many as 100, nuclear warheads. These aren’t maybe-in-five-years nukes, these are right now, tested, mounted-on-functional-missiles nukes. That single fact alone (and other factors as well) means we have to tread carefully in Pakistan because we cannot be sure that Musharraf’s replacement would be an improvment, and it’s quite likely we’d get something worse. Maybe a lot worse. Maybe about as bad as you can get.
Our goal was to deny Al Qaeda a safe haven in the near east. If this deal is what it looks like, we appear to have failed. If this deal is what it looks like, we aren’t even back at square one: we’re wishing that we could get back to square one. In fact, if this deal is what it looks like, we just lost a war.
See also: "One of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror." - GWB to Katie Kouric 2006-09-06
Game over, man.