I remember the moment I was convinced me that U.S. President Richard Nixon was a desperate man. It was his pre-reelection promise to end the Vietnam War that stuck in my craw. I thought, “If the man can end the war next January, why not right now and save even more lives?”
Now another desperate man is making a similar pre-reelection promise for the same reason: equally cold, calculating, and unfeeling, but infinitely more hypocritical.
President Obama is dangling “hope” before the American people, luring voters with the lives of their sons and daughters as ransom by promising to bring home 350,000 troops just before Election Day 2012. I challenge the reader to list how many promises this president has kept.
First home should be the National Guard and Reserves: backup troops who should never be deployed unless Congress declares an all-out war that our regular troops can’t handle, assuming we are up to full defensive strength by then.
Prior to 9/11, the National Guard’s general policy was "one weekend a month, two weeks a year"; no more than one year active duty; no more than six months overseas. Due to strains placed on the dramatically Clinton-reduced, regular troop strength, overseas mobilization time grew to 18, then 24 months.
How many recent vets are jobless now? How many families have been broken because presidents, to this day, tried to make war in the Middle East without enough regular armed force?
Thanks to the Clinton "peace dividend", a funding dodge that dramatically cut our nation's military and spent more on entitlement programs that pull in votes from recipients of our money, we’re vulnerable even on our own turf. China, now building an aircraft carrier fleet, and Russia, that still has nuclear weapons, know this.
How great a concern it is when our regular troops are of insufficient strength to conduct an overwhelming engagement with the forces of one small nation: Iraq. And how arrogant of our president to continue that “war” on Afghan turf with troops uprooted from our communities. There are waiting lists for regular Army recruits because there is no money to hire them and now, $350 billion less.
If Obama can end the war next November, why not right now and save the lives of our troops? Instead of dying in the stinking swamps of Vietnam, now they're sinking in desert sand and splayed on mountain crags with about the same results in Afghanistan as from the same half-hearted effort in Vietnam which left 58,000 American troops dead for nothing.
Better, let the president— who just “won” himself a $350 billion defense budget cut— declare that the established democratic government in Iraq must keep its own peace and bring our non-regular troops home. We will leave regular Army and air support in our existing bases in Iraq.
Continued next week.
David Millson writes about international and political issues in New Haven, Vt.