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Not Forgotten…


(Photo by Misha Japaridze/AP)

Iraq isn’t going well.  Afghanistan is still smoldering.  And there has been no real oversight of the poor decisions and failures of the Bush Administration — because the rubber stamp Republican congress is more interested in holding onto power than holding anyone accountable for the serial mistakes and poor planning.

And to hell with the consequences for the military and their families, let alone the long-term consequences for the United States and its loss of prestige, power and influence in the foreign policy arena, which ripples out to everything — trade negotiations, weapons proliferation issues, environmental degradation, energy price negotiations…the loss of the US reputation as an honest broker in the international arena is hurting us.  For the long term.

Our soldiers deserve better.  Our nation deserves better.  Our children deserve better.  And a correctly functioning government provides accountability for bad decisions so that we do not continue to repeat our mistakes, further hurting our long-term efforts.  That has not been the case with the Bush Administration and the rubber stamp Republican Congress — and it is high time that all of them were held to account for their failures.

The Army has extended the in-country stays of a number of brigades in Iraq, and has recently recalled members of the 172nd Stryker Brigade who had just returned home to Alaska after a year’s tour.

So much for the "last throes."

The series of bad decisions happened on George Bush’s watch.  The buck stops with him and the Republican party, which has controlled both houses of Congress for the last five years as well.  No accountability.  No checks.  No balances.  All cronies, all power, all excess, all the time.

The bulk of the 172nd Brigade was still in Iraq when Rumsfeld extended their deployment as part of a plan to quell the escalating violence in Baghdad. Overall, the brigade has about 3,900 troops.

Another 300 soldiers from the unit had left Iraq and gotten to Kuwait, and were about to board flights home when they were called back.

My heart aches for these families — that is so, so difficult.  (And the 3rd Infantry Division out of Georgia may not be far behind them — for their third tour in Iraq.)  The Anchorage Daily News, the local paper in Alaska says that the Army has called in counselors for the children of soldiers being sent back to the battlefield, and for spouses, and characterized the soldiers’ return in this way:

More than 300 soldiers from the 172nd Stryker Brigade who returned to Alaska earlier this summer after a year of war duty are being shipped back to Iraq, this time to the dangerous capital of Baghdad.

They’ll rejoin thousands of troops from their Alaska-based brigade who learned last month that their tour was being extended just as they were preparing to come home.

The news is disappointing, even devastating, for families who thought their soldiers’ war duty was ending.

The 301 Stryker troops being recalled will join more than 3,500 still in Iraq, officials announced Monday. The soldiers, known for their wheeled, armored vehicles, are tasked with an enormous mission: to bring order to Baghdad, where escalating violence is being described by some as civil war.

We are not even successfully holding Baghdad. And yet President Rose-Colored Glasses continues to announce that there will be greater security in Iraq’s capital.  Except for the fact that fierce gun battles keep erupting in the Iraqi capital, with sectarian violence between Sunni and Shi’ite neighborhoods continuing unabated.

Swopa has been calling this failed Bush policy for what it is — a whack-a-mole policy that continually leaves our soldiers more exposed than they need to be, in the midst of a cultural and religious civil war, and lacking the water that they would need to put out any fires at all.  I think it is safe to say that we are simply adding more fuel to the fires that rage in Iraq with every poor decision, every bad move that we make.

On top of that, we still haven’t finished the job in Afghanistan, where Taliban militants and al qaeda sympathizers cross the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan regularly, attacking coalition forces in a steady stream.

But they are also an indicator of how, in the nearly five years since Al Qaeda and the Taliban were chased from Afghanistan, the groups have continued operating from bases just across the border in Pakistan.

While the terrorist scare in London last week provided a fresh reminder to the United States and its allies of the threat from militant groups that have made Pakistan their home, the soldiers here did not need reminding. That threat has been constant, and it has largely frustrated American efforts to rebuild the country and bring peace and stability.

In Paktika itself, there are a few remote places where the Taliban have a foothold. Most of the insurgents filter across the border repeatedly from Pakistan, military commanders here said….

“The enemy is fighting hard, and we have to fight harder,” the commander of the American-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, told a unit of Afghan National Army soldiers on Friday as he toured their new, half-built barracks here.

“Since the fall of the Taliban, things have got better, but they are still hard,” he added. “In the next 10 years things will get better, but things will still be hard.”

Military and government officials in Afghanistan say they are resigned to the fact that establishing security and defeating the insurgency is going to take years, partly because the insurgents continue to enjoy a refuge in Pakistan’s turbulent tribal areas. Pakistani government efforts to combat them have largely failed.

“There is deep concern about the cross-border insurgency among Afghans and the international community,” said Samina Ahmed, the director of the International Crisis Group in Pakistan, an independent policy analysis group.

The Bush Administration took it’s eye off the al qaeda ball in Afghanistan, and has mired the Army and the Marines down in a civil war of our own making in Iraq. There are rising threats of violence in too many places to keep count — and the loss of American prestige and influence because of the repeated Bush failures puts us at increased risk.

And yet still there is no accountability from the Republican Congress.  No oversight.  No check.  No balance.

The way to restore some accountability to government is to divide power.  There is an old saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely — in the case of the Bush Administration and the GOP in Congress, such power corruption puts us all at risk.

This puts my child at increased risk — and that is unacceptable.  And I would imagine that a lot of parents have similar concerns for their own children and for themselves.

Can we afford more years of no accountability for the continued bad decisions?  Do you trust George Bush and the Republicans who have controlled Congress for the last five abysmal years to make good decisions for you and your family?

Had enough?  Vote for Democrats.  Divided governmental power is the first step toward accountability for the Bush Administration.  We can only get that if the Democrats take back the House and/or the Senate.  And it is past time for accountability…way past time.

UPDATE:  Good heavens.  George Will is calling out the unreality of the Bush Administration and the neocons as well. 

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com