Bob Herbert does it again, illuminating the blow that this government has dealt to to those serving in the armed forces. (NYT):
“Not long ago I interviewed a soldier who was paralyzed from injuries he had suffered in a roadside bombing in Iraq. Like so many other wounded soldiers I’ve talked to, he expressed no anger and no bitterness about the difficult hand he’s been dealt as a result of the war.
But when I asked this soldier, Eugene Simpson Jr., a 27-year-old staff sergeant from Dale City, Va., whom he had been fighting in Iraq – who, exactly, the enemy was – he looked up from his wheelchair and stared at me for a long moment. Then, in a voice much softer than he had been using for most of the interview, and with what seemed like a mixture of sorrow, regret and frustration, he said: ‘I don’t know. That would be my answer. I don’t know.’
We have not done right by the troops we’ve sent to Iraq to fight this crazy, awful war. We haven’t given them a clear mission, and we haven’t protected them well. I’m reminded of the famous scene in ‘On the Waterfront’ when Terry Malloy, the character played by Marlon Brando, tells his brother: ‘You shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit.’
The thing to always keep in mind about our troops in Iraq is that they were sent to fight the wrong war. America’s clearly defined and unmistakable enemy, Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda, was in Afghanistan. So the men and women fighting and dying in Iraq were thrown into a pointless, wholly unnecessary conflict.
That tragic move was made worse by the failure of the U.S. to send enough troops to effectively wage the war that we started in Iraq. And we never fully equipped the troops we did send. The people who ordered up this war had no idea what they were doing. They were wildly overconfident, blinded by hubris and a dangerous, overarching ideology. They thought it would be a cakewalk.
In May of 2003, President Bush thought the war was over. It had barely begun. Many thousands have died in the long and bloody months since then. Even now, Dick Cheney, with a straight face, is calling Iraq “a remarkable success story.”