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November, 2006 was a time of celebration and high hopes.

The newly elected


Democratic majority would soon wrest control of a hated war from the sole control
of a megalomaniacal President, and begin the process of returning our courageous
military to their families and loved ones. Beyond the progressive thinking of
Congress the country could expect a field of presidential candidates, any of whom
could be counted on to bring the dawn of new hope to despondent America.
That was then. Today, the country remains mired in a war showing no signs of
progress, and in fact has become even more deadly. Not only has the surge failed to
end the violence, the current deployment has increased the casualty rate for our
soldiers and marines. While the visible death and injury rate continues to grow,
while the once relatively safe Green Zone is now subject to almost daily shelling, it
seems far too optimistic to expect that the President will give even the most passing
thought to the terrible psychological damage suffered by repeated deployments to
the combat zone. A recent MSNBC article sheds the light of day on this dark
problem:
“While much of the attention has been on physical
wounds like traumatic brain injuries, as well as
squalid living conditions for recovering soldiers,
doctors, families and lawmakers are expressing
growing concerns that veterans are not be getting
the right mental health help.
“Those worries come as President George W. Bush
has ordered almost 30,000 more troops to Iraq.
Already 1.5 million soldiers have been deployed in
the U.S.-led war on terrorism, with one-third serving
at least two combat tours, which increases the
chances of PTSD.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates 12
percent to 20 percent of those who served in Iraq
suffer from PTSD. A 2004 Army study found 16.6
percent of those returning from combat tested
positive for the disorder.
“Individuals suffer from PTSD if they relive the
trauma, experience emotional numbness, isolation,
depression, substance abuse, and memory problems.
These often lead to job instability and marital
troubles.
The July/August 2006 issue of Foreign Affairs makes clear the extent to which the
Iraq war has decimated the ability of the United States Military to maintain, let
alone expand its warfighting manpower resources.
The U.S. military suffers from a glaring manpower
deficiency. The ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
have demonstrated that in operations such as
counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, stabilization,
and peacekeeping, even the United States'
impressive technology cannot substitute for soldiers.
As Kagan observes, only soldiers possess the
requisite combination of brainpower and weaponry to
"mix with an enemy's population, identify the
combatants intermingled with that population, and
accomplish the critical tasks of governance and
reorganization that are so essential in persuading an
enemy government to surrender."
The Bush administration, however, does not share
this assessment, as evidenced by its handling of the
invasion of Iraq. Before the war, Rumsfeld was
dismissive, even contemptuous, of warnings from
senior U.S. military officials, such as former Army
Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki, that securing Iraq
would require a vast number of boots on the ground.
The secretary and his allies contended that the war
and the occupation could be managed with a
relatively light and short troop deployment. This
belief reflected the strategic theory underpinning
Rumsfeld's military-transformation agenda, which
prioritizes long-range airpower and the development
of ever more technologically sophisticated
equipment and weaponry over expanded ground
forces.
And so the war rages on. Congress talks and talks and talks, passes legislation
aimed at starting withdrawal, while the President scolds, and ignores. Meanwhile
the slate of Democratic presidential candidates universally decries the continuation
of the war. Yet none offer a plan for ending the actions of a President run amok.
Instead we here vague references to “phased withdrawal,” and “benchmarks,” as
though either of these concepts will be implemented during the remainder of Bush’s
term.
I have yet to hear a single candidate, Democrat or Republican, present an action
plan for addressing the war. By “action plan,” I mean something more substantive
than John McCain’s lemming-like fantasy of adding more non-existent warriors to
achieve what even he acknowledges, is, at best, a hoped for “Victory.”
When the pejorative, “Surrender Monkeys,” issues from an O’Reilly, Hannity, or
Beck, most will simply discard such primitive name calling as the drooling product
of the low end of the spectrum of knuckle-draggers. Yet, when carefully considered
it seems quite appropriate as a description of our elected leaders – bereft of
solutions, and lacking the courage to implement, even when they are clearly
evident.
Can there be any among us that can make a single argument on behalf of retaining
Alberto Gonzalez as the Attorney General of the United States? Are there any who
find reasonable doubt in the assertion that he has violated the sacred trust that he
shall protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, prosecuting
lawbreakers, while protecting citizens from the excesses of an unfettered
government? Daily, new evidence of his criminality, dishonesty, and incompetence
is piled higher and higher for all to see.
An argument can be made explaining the failure to find solutions to the problem of
a chaotic, confused and disorganized Middle East Region. The consequences are
serious, options limited, and resources, few. Yet the same cannot be said for the
continuing criminality of Bush, Cheney, Gonzalez and Rove. The solution is clear.
Removal from office is the only way we can rid ourselves of those who have either
forgotten or never knew of their responsibility and accountability to those who
elected them.
The process for removal is available now. But it takes moving from talk to action. It
takes courage to take the lead, or just simple agreement to act in a way that
potential political consequences; it take placing the good of the country in place of
self-interest.
In short, it takes Leadership. Between now and the primaries, and the 2008
election, we all will have the opportunity to find who will lead, and who not.