Refusing orders...and a little rambling
You know, I have been almost actively avoiding commenting on current events. Much of it due to a complete lack of an ability on my part to establish a firm reference point from which to comment. But, after some consideration, I think I will make a comment - not so much on the war in Iraq - but something that I know a little bit
about, and that is what these kinds of conflicts do to our military. I wrote in "I remember the Army..."
about my fears of what this kind of war would do to our military establishment. [Oh, I just stumbled on to this post, which may fit in very well with what I've posted below: The Soviet - Afghan War as a possible example?
] I write this as someone who knew nothing about civilian life until age 30. Okay, maybe I knew a little, but it has taken me a lot of effort to come to grips with civilian life. As the military guys used to tell me, and I often discounted, you think military life is hard? The 'real world' is hell. Now, belatedly, I know they spoke the truth. But my point is, that I like many other army brats who went into the service upon reaching the age of majority or soon after, bring a view of the military that you will not find on the news.
I won't speak for the others, though I would not doubt that many would agree. I have seen what a war like this does; I haven't seen the war, but I have experienced what it does to the morale of the soldiers. And, I am not going to go to the trouble of citing sources. If you want sources on this subject, well, if you are reading this, you have access to google or whatever. Find your own 'facts'. I am writing this from 'feel'.
This war has been lost - politically. And that's a loss that no amount of bravery on the part of our soldiers can overcome.
As in the case of Vietnam, we will not lose a single battle. But than, I don't expect to see many battles. 'Force on Force' engagements are largely a thing of the past, because as soon as one side masses their forces, those forces become an easy target. D-Day could not happen today. You can't launch a secret invasion
; with today's technology, you can't even do the invasion prep in secret. And the support required for the amassing of forces merely creates another target - look to the Green Zone in Iraq. That is all it is - a target. Well, defended so far, but still a big bull's eye. Look at the people we're fighting. They don't bring hundreds of troops together to engage us. It would be an exercise in futile suicide on their part to do so.
So, this, regardless of Rummy's refusal to use the term, is a guerrilla war. We have a fairly long history of fighting guerrilla wars; as guerrillas and as a regimented military. We fought as guerrillas in the American Revolution. Where we have succeeded in defeating guerrillas, has largely been determined, not by our military might, but most importantlyu by with whom in that particualr country we were politically allied. We lost backing a totally corrupt South Vietminese regime, and were successful in the Philipines thanks to an able Filipino president.
In Iraq, there probably is no good choice. Not just because of corruption on their part, though that appears to be an inherent factor there (the whole my family, my mosque, my religion, etc. first thing), but also because we have brought our own corrupting influence with us. We have brought entities like Halliburton and PMOs, entities that are purely profit motivated, with us, and put them in positions of power. These entities, unlike our vision of idealistic young soldiers bring truth, democracy and the American way, these entities are there solely to make a buck. They don't care about Iraq's future, except in how they will profit from it. That is serious political baggage for our soldiers on the ground to have to overcome. "We're here to help" rings hollow to the Iraqi's when the people in charge are focused on looting the coffers of Iraq, and the American taxpayers. That, and the US authorized torture of prisoners, does nothing but make their job harder.
The current generation - the generation coming of age right now, or those, say, still in their twenties - are as removed from the Vietnam police action experience as I was from the WWII experience. More so. Most of America's youth today might know a Vet. Really, they only might
know a Vet. When I grew up, everyone knew a Vet, not true today.
So, today's youth will form their opinions of the military based largely on what they see on what currently passes as 'news'. This includes reporting that states that the military 'lost' 377 tons of conventional explosives, that 18 (or 19 or 17, depending on which 'news' source you consider credible) refused to follow orders, and that our military routinely butt fucks and tortures prisoners. That's what they are hearing, and sadly, there is some truth to these statements, but how much, well, we can't really know. Between the complete lack of credibility within the 'news' organizations and the level of secrecy currently put inplace by this administration, we can't know. We can only look at the information that we are allowed to receive, and recognize the filters it has been processed through, and hope we can discern a kernal of truth upon which we can base our opinions. In fact, let me say here and now, we live in a time where there is no such thing as an 'informed opinion'
Regardless, and let me move on to the point of this post, which is that 18 (or so) reservists refused to follow an order from their commander. This is not good. Regardless of whether or not they were justified, it is not good. Based on the 'information' I've read on the topic, the fuel they were supposed to risk their lives delivering was worthless. On the presumption that this is in fact true, it means we have the same problems that militaries at war have always had. No matter how sophisticated the weaponry, no matter how motivated the service people, no matter who the enemy is, the servicemen (fuck it, I'm not going to try and stay PC) can not over come
poor leadership. One can imagine this commander ordering this unit on this mission, because he wants to be promoted. Yep. The military, and especially its leadership, suffers from being human. And humans have their own ambitions, and the less morally enlightened the leadership, the more ambition overrides the mission. I have heard no one speak to this issue.
What is the state of leadership of today's military?
Well, based on 'news' sources, I wouldn't have a clue. I would know, that all of the people I heard making reasoned arguments before congress, or actually had military experience to base their opinions on, have been cashiered or forced into retirement. This is not a new phenomena.
In fact, the current leadership of the military is a peacetime leadership. Sure they 'fought' in Grenada, 'invaded' Panama and conducted a short campaign in Kuwait, but it is largely a leadership that has risen through the ranks without 'real' combat experience. The young officers and soldiers are getting it now, but those in senior positions do not have it, and are not getting it. And, peacetime promotions tend to be based a great deal on punching the right buttons and knowing the right people. In fact, it is exactly like working in a large corporation. And that is what we have in charge of our military today - corporate survivors, not war fighters. Oh, and war fighters tend to do really poorly in peace time. They tend not to like to play the political games. I used to know lots of LTC who never made full COL, and COLs who never made General, because they would not hold their tongues, and spoke the truth. The corporate types don't really care about the truth, they care about getting more power.
So, don't expect the toe-the-line corporate types, those especially who are sucking at the teats of Halliburton and the like, to prosecute this war in any other way than you'd expect a corporation to act. There is the marketing/PR campaign about winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi's, but behind it - is greed. Pure and simple greed. The Iraqi's see it. The soldiers are caught in the middle, but their leadership, just like a corporation is more concerned with quarterly profits measured in terms of body counts, than in actually winning. Hell, once it's over, they'll have to go back to whoring themselves before congress to get their over inflated budgets, and often totally worthless high tech weapon systems. For now, their on easy street. They have their patsy (the American taxpayer) right where they want him, and they'll keep sucking the blood like leeches.
And the soldiers? The military itself? It will decline. It will decline in mission effectiveness as they lose equipment through attrition and an inability to properly maintain and repair the equipment they have. It will decline as morale goes to hell - due to both the idiocy of the mission proscribed to them by their political leaders, as well as being victims of poor military leadership which always seems to rise to the top, and knowing they face a future that looks much like a year in Iraq, followed by a year stateside and then repeat the cycle. And as our military declines - a draft will do nothing to slow the decline down, and may in fact hasten it, as draftees tend not to have very high morale to begin with - it will lose respect, both here at home with the American people, and among any future foes we might face.
You know, it really is a quagmire. I don't see any 'graceful' way out. And the American people haven't had enough yet to clamor for a cut and run. No, we'll abuse our military and our tax dollars for a while. The death toll will have to rise. But I think if you want to end this war quick, bring back the draft. Yes, it will only be the poor that can't afford to get waivers and wind up doing the fighting, but when they come back in body bags, there will be enough political will to find a way to "Peace, with Honour". As a matter of fact, the draft may be our best way out of this war.
If you are against the war, support the draft. Really. It is probably the single best way to generate the political will amongst the American people to end this fiasco. I think this administration realizes that. I believe Baby Bush when he says he won't ask for the draft - it would cost him his major source of misdirection. Without the Iraqi war, people might actually pay attention to what he and his cronies are doning to our country. No, he won't re-instate the draft; he cannot afford to have the American taxpayer look closely at what he has 'accomplished'. He needs the war, and he knows he can't have it, if he brings back the draft.
So, really, truly - if you are against the war, write your congressman/woman and tell them you want the draft back.
"Stop the WAR - Bring back the DRAFT"