This is my friendly, professional — but strong — response to what Ron Christie argues in his post today.
Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are not playing, but taking the wise and appropriate actions that happen to be in line with the will of the overwhelming majority of the American people and the results of the recent election.
Regarding the surge, the troops are in harm’s way because George W. Bush ignored and disrespected the overwhelming and possibly unanimous advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who opposed the escalation.
The troops are in harm’s way because George W. Bush (and Vice President Cheney) ignored the overwhelming advice of commanders in Iraq and imposed an escalation that they overwhelmingly opposed.
Let me repeat this: The overwhelming majority of Joint Chiefs and Iraq commanders and our retired senior officers opposed this latest escalation called the surge.
Of course, the president who claimed he always followed the commanders ignored the Chiefs and ignored the commanders, and finally found a commander who agrees with him, though the overwhelming majority of commanders then and now do not.
The troops are in harm’s way because George W. Bush ignored the overwhelming majority of Joint Chiefs and commanders who pleaded for reinforcements at Tora Bora to kill Bin Laden, but were given the back of the hand by George W. Bush, who preferred to so unwisely invade Iraq.
I repeat: George Bush profoundly disrespected the advice of commanders by refusing to reinforce at Tora Bora and thereby surrendering to the escape of Bin Laden at the moment he almost certainly should have been killed, had our commanders’ request for reinforcements been honored.
The troops are in harm’s way because George W. Bush ignored the advice of American allies, ignored the advice of the overwhelming majority of American commanders, ignored the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by rushing to war without a long-term plan, without adequate troops, without cultural understanding of the Middle East that was so deficient the president needed to be taught the difference between Sunnis and Shiites.
The troops are in harm’s way because the president sent them to war without adequate body armor, without adequate vehicles, without adequate helmets and bandages, and without any semblance of a plan for postwar Iraq.
The troops are in harm’s way because George W. Bush ignored active-duty commanders and the State Department led by a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and imposed a Roman-like occupation filled with corruption, negligence and incompetence that led to more than $10 billion of lost and stolen American money, and more than 300 tons of lost and stolen Iraqi cash.
The troops are in harm’s way because George W. Bush is the only president in history to rush hell-bent to war, while he was hell-bent to cut taxes while promising easy victory, letting Americans be killed or wounded in casualties the Marine Corps pathologist said should have been prevented.
The troops are in harm’s way because George W. Bush and Vice President Cheney were so obsessed with this war they began planning it even before the Bush inauguration, had no idea how to manage it, had no respect for warnings from America’s allies, had no interesting, honest intelligence, and used every means to pressure and intimidate intelligence agencies, including leaking the identity of a covert agent, revealing a CIA front group, and disseminating, misrepresenting and misusing classified information.
Meanwhile, while the troops were put into harm’s way wrongly, in a war administered incompetently, with advice of commanders disrespected repeatedly, with an occupation managed corruptly, with war profiteering that escalated exponentially, the troops he put into harm’s way so wrongly were forced to return home to treatment that included rats, mice, bats, lice, urine, feces, leaky roofs, creaky floors, disability certification that runs a year behind schedule, veterans centers that are radically underfunded, troops and their families forced to pay Mafia interest rates, extreme underfunding for treatment of post traumatic stress disorder and serious brain injury … while those who claim to love the troops protect their timeless tax cuts.
The troops are in harm’s way because George W. Bush and Vice President Cheney became the only leaders in American history who became champions for torture, and violators of the Geneva Convention over the opposition of every commander, in every service, for all of American history, and thereby caused anger and rage among the Iraqis whose hearts and minds we need to win.
The troops are in harm’s way while George W. Bush obsessively keep Guantanamo open despite the opposition of the secretary of state, secretary of defense, intelligence community, every ally including Britain, and the overwhelming majority of American commanders who want it closed.
The troops are in harm’s way because George W. Bush ignored the advice of our allies, then disrespected the advice of commanders, then showed contempt for the unanimous advice of Democrats and Republicans on the Baker-Hamilton Commission, and even in the fifth year of this unwise war, refuses the diplomatic and political initiatives advocated strongly by the virtually unanimous opinion of everyone outside a small inner circle of neoconservative theorists who have no real-life experience with any real war.
Even now, George W. Bush shows contempt and derision as a coequal branch of American government, shows contempt and derision for the overwhelming opinion that opposed this escalation, shows contempt and derision for the will of the American people in the last election, and believes the way to what he calls victory is to escalate the mistakes that failed, and disrespect the overwhelming weight of military opinion that advised against the current course.
One thing I have advised senior Democratic leaders, and more than one senior Republican who believes the current course is a road to continued disaster, is to never again let the honor and name of our troops be used for policies that serve them so unwisely, which their commanders have so strongly opposed.
I am proud of the leadership of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, who speak the voice of common sense, sound military judgment, and the best interests of our troops and our military families who have acted with such honor, and deserve so much better, from those who have taken us so unwisely to our crisis today, and have nothing to offer except escalating their mistakes.