It's been quite a while since I've done of these, but yesterday's Seattle Times had this rather uninformed letter using the military as a club to bash Bush:
Just when you think the politicking can't get any worse, up pops George W. Bush with an absolutely harebrained troop redeployment scheme ("Bush plan will return 70,000 troops to U.S.," Times, News, Aug. 17).
While this plan (no doubt thought up by the same bunch who told us Iraq would be a "cakewalk") may win him votes, in the long run it can only undermine our nation's defenses.
Long on rhetoric but short on vision, Bush is only focused on the "War on Terror" (which he is primarily fighting with grossly underpaid National Guard troops and highly overpaid "private contractors"), while neglecting such threats as those posed by North Korea, a Russia teetering on the brink of right-wing totalitarianism, and the soon-to-be superpower of China.
Having made a shambles of U.S. diplomatic policy, this president would now strip our garrisons and pull us further into the same isolationist posture that helped bring about two world wars.
Rather than relying on technological gimmickry as the Bush administration would have us do, it is time for us to invest in "boots on the ground" — a decently paid, professional military trained in both combat and peacekeeping.
— Emily Salisbury Keene, Seattle
Ms. Keene has just a few facts that contradict her stance. Removing troops from Germany (where they are not particularly welcome, or strategically important) and Korea (where they are most definitely NOT wanted by Koreans too young to remember the Korean War) is a good idea. Who cares if Germany is suddenly having a change of heart? They allowed us to use our bases in the country during the conflict; imagine what would have happened if they had pulled a Turkey (who refused us the use of Incirlik Air Base) or Austria (who announced thaat they would not allow us to move troops from Germany to Italy through their country). What would we have done then? As to Korea, their two parties tried to outdo each other in the Anti-American sweeps; the party that won is also the one that is perceived to be more hostile to the United States. Maybe we should pull ALL of our troops and let them deal with the North Koreans by themselves. It's only the older Koreans who support our presence; they remember what happened the last time we didn't have troops on the peninsula.
Next, she drags out the "cakewalk" trope. What Perle actually said held true: Removing Saddam Hussein from power was in fact a cakewalk, relatively speaking. What has not been so easy is bringing order back to a country that has never had a democratic tradition. Between religious extremists like Al-Sadr and Ba'athists who miss the good old days under Saddam, the majority of our casualties have occurred after Saddam was deposed.
On the "underpaid" National Guard troops, I agree; they are underpaid. However, I doubt it is anywhere near as bad as she evidently believes, because they are paid the same as active duty personnel, (plus Basic Allowance for HousingBAH and hostile fire pay), and their entire pay is tax free. They are not receiving their normal drill pay, which is a small fraction of active duty pay. If she proposes increasing their pay, I'm all for it, as MY pay will increase as well. Somehow, though, I doubt that is her intent. (More on that in a moment.)
She next throws out North Korea, Russia and China as potential threats. Does she advocate acting against them? I doubt it. She accuses the US of slipping into a new isolationism (wow, we're imperialists AND isolationists, a remarkable feat) and frets that we are "stripping our garrisons by reducing the number of troops overseas.
She concludes with a plea to increase the manning of our military, rather than the continuing drive to modernize our equipment. I hate to break it to Ms. Salisbury Keene, but modernization is a critical component to an effective military. Modern equipment saves lives, reduces maintenance costs, and improves the quality of life for the troops using it, which in turn increases retention and reduces training costs. Some of the more technically challenging specialties cost the military a bundle to train, as electrical and electronic training schools run to six months or more, plus the schools to learn specific systems.
The reason I doubt her sincerity is because of this crop of letters to The Stranger, Seattle's extremely leftist "alternative" weekly. Her letter (scroll down to the third one) contains the line
...I am a lifelong peacenik, socialist, and environmentalist...
Which pretty much rules out the concept of her supporting a stronger military in the US.
posted on August 24, 2004 07:51 PM
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