Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Delusional Dishonesty

There is, of course, a lot of talk about the standoff between Bush and Congress about “funding the troops” and the latest supplemental funding bill. As usual, Bush is providing pretty much all of the inflammatory rhetoric, saying several times, for instance,

“The bottom line is this: Congress's failure to fund our troops will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines. Others could see their loved ones headed back to war sooner than anticipated.”

This is an arrant lie of the most base political variety, and the falsity lies in two fronts; one which I can (reluctantly) tolerate and one which I cannot.

First, as has been pointed out many times, Congress has funded the troops. They have passed a bill providing every single dollar that Bush asked for. It is Bush that is denying funding to the troops by vetoing the bill.

It can be, and is, argued that the failure is that of Congress because they have included provisions in the bill that Bush cannot in good conscience allow to become law – provisions setting a timeline for withdrawal. I am on the side of withdrawal, but I do not deny Bush has a right to argue against those provisions. I would even go so far as to condone his rhetoric about “Congress not funding the troops” by including provisions which his principles require him to veto. (Not that I agree with him.)

From that standpoint his blather about this supplemental is more inflammatory than I would like to hear coming from the office of President of the United States, but I have no great problem with it. This part, though, really bothers me,

“…some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines. Others could see their loved ones headed back to war sooner than anticipated.”

Those things are happening, but they have nothing whatever to do with passage or lack of passage of the supplemental funding bill. They are the direct result of decisions made by President Bush, and by him alone.
A decision to continue, and to expand, a failed war. A decision to fire the generals who opposed that expansion, and to promote and install new generals who would agree with him.

Military leaders warned Congress more than a year ago that our Army and Marine forces were near breaking point. Congress has been trying to bring them back from the brink of disaster and Bush has been putting more and more pressure and burden on them. We are now sending brigades back for a new tour of duty after only seven months “dwell time.” Combat tours are being extended by as much as a third on a regular basis, and consideration is being given to making the standard combat tour fifteen months rather than the present twelve months.

Recruiting is becoming more and more of a problem. "We're enlisting more dropouts, people with more law violations, lower test scores, more moral issues," said a senior noncommissioned officer involved in Army personnel and recruiting. "We're really scraping the bottom of the barrel trying to get people to join."

People in the National Guard enlisted with the understanding that they would be used for one combat tour of one year and then not used again for five years. We are breaking that promise by extending their tours in length, multiple times, and now by calling them up for a second tour after only two years. It isn’t that they don’t want to serve, they enlisted to do so, but we are requiring them to break promises they made to their employers and the consequences to their careers are often disastrous. Despite laws to the contrary, many of them lose promotions, are demoted, and even lose their jobs altogether.

These are terrible costs to the military, full-time and guard. They are not the result of any action of Congress. Congress is trying to reduce this carnage. These costs are the results of decisions made by George W. Bush.

For him to try to pass that buck to Congress is utterly despicable.

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