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November 02, 2006

Speaking of Apologies: Neo-Cons and the Army
Posted by Lorelei Kelly

Yesterday's over the top White House rumpus over Senator Kerry's flubbed line  about troops in Iraq is truly ridiculous. It was a dorky mistake but in no way merits a new swiftboating of Democrats.  The calls for apology coming from left and right alike are, well, they are just silly.  The idea that any variety of lip service will somehow "support" our troops--after what we've done to them--is laughable.  Kerry is a conservative fist-magnet and conservatives are desperate to change the subject from our real problems the week prior to the election. Problems like the fact that our fine military institution has lowered standards to meet recruitment goals, is now accepting 42 year olds and mediocre high schoolers and that this is causing the decay of the entire institution.  (did I mention the ranks of the Army being infested with white supremists?)  Lots of things to apologize for. Bad jokes not among them. That the media even covered this gaffe is pathetic.

How about a collective apology from civilians for not paying attention-- throughout the 1990's-- to what our military has been doing? Like implementing the majority of our post Cold War foreign policy, from building girls schools, to AIDs prevention to (horrors!) peacekeeping and peacebuilding around the world. How about an apology for not ever devising a truly new grand strategy when the Soviet Union fell apart? Now we have an Army that doesn't have enough down to Earth items like body armour or Farsi speakers but continues to be the organizational home for that space-weenie fantasy missile defense?

Only this year did the military put forward a new counter insurgency doctrine  Only last November, did the DoD come out with a directive  stating that stability support is as important as combat in today's missions.

BTW, an article that ran last week about the Army budget deserves major attention. Seems it has been muffled because of its lousy timing.(meaning elections) In short, Republican appointee, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England has given a figure for the Army budget that is $17.8 billion dollars short of the amount Army leaders say is required to execute its part of the current military strategy. Read the whole article here. . Progressives, check out the new organizations out there that are breaking down the notion of "strong" on defense. Look who gets the F grade  when defense issues focus on human resources.  And jump on this NOW.  The neo-cons are onto it. In his convenient revision of recent history, Joshua Muravchik  at AEI makes one important coherent point about the importance of human resources in the military. That we've focussed on technology at the expense of human beings.

A lame joke is so nothing compared to this strategic blindness. The Iraq war is a mess, yes. Afghanistan's woes a missed opportunity...but our current leadership has put our very military institution in peril.  Who is going to apologize for this?


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The fact that the first reaction of the Democratic party is to not scream bloody murder and demand the Army be fully funded against the desires of the Republican party is exactly why the Dems have historical problems being trusted on national security.

Hillary Clinton might very well be able to lock in a general election win with this position. The problem of course is that she might very well lock herself out of a Democratic primary win with this position.

Which underlines the question of what the Democratic party stands affirmatively for. If it is for leaving Iraq as soon as practicle then more money does not need to be spent on the Army- which is exactly why the party mostly ignores issues like this and thus any critism of the Adminstration along these lines rings hollow.

It was the Democratic party that gave the nation the Hollow Army in the 1970's and ingrained the nations belief that the Democratic party can not be trusted on national defense. It is simply obvious that the same pattern threatens to repeat itself today and that the Democrats might shoot themselves in the head vis a vis the publics trust in them on national security for another three decades.

Some people might claim that their concern for the welfare of the warriors employed by an imperialistic government engaged in the furtherance of American hegemony represents the cutting edge of progressivism. They would be wrong, in my view.

And the preposterous idea that our military has merely been cavorting around the world building girls' schools, preventing AIDS and keeping the peace, if true, would soon make obsolete all weapons of war, and their maintenance, and make the 655,000 Iraqi dead as fictional to many as the millions of holocaust victims are to some.

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