Thursday, December 01, 2011

I Hate The War

David Zucchino (Los Angeles Times) has an article on the late Spc David Hickman who was killed while serving in Iraq last month that's more than worth reading; however, how can someone write so well in so many spots and still be so dense?

The point of Zucchino's article is that US troops are still in Iraq and still in danger. Yes, that is true and good for him for writing it. But here's what's a problem:

In the twilight of a war that many Americans regard as over, with only a month before all the troops are to be gone, David Hickman may prove to be the last soldier to die in Iraq. That, at least, is the prayer of families of the remaining U.S. forces, who face an agonizing wait as the rapidly diminishing number of troops pack up and head home.

A) Not every US troop in Iraq that's leaving Iraq is heading home. Yet again let's drop back to the the November 15th Senate Armed Services Committee hearing [see the November 15th "Iraq snapshot," the November 16th "Iraq snapshot" -- excerpt below from the November 16th snapshot -- and the November 17th "Iraq snapshot" and Ava's "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava)," Wally's "The costs (Wally)" and Kat's "Who wanted what?" ].
Senator Joe Lieberman: My question, Mr. Secretary, is if you could just develop the statement that you made a little earlier, that we will have 40,000 troops in the region, does that include the 24,000 now in Iraq? Or have we made a decision to increase the number based on the failure to have more troops in Iraq after January of next year, have we made a decision to increase the number of the troops in the region outside of Iraq for some of those what-ifs I just talked about?
Secretary Leon Panetta: No, Senator, that did not include Iraq. What we have now is in Kuwait we have almost 29,000; Saudi Arabi we've got 258; Bahrain over 6,000 -- close to 7,000 --
Senator Joe Lieberman: Right.
Secretary Leon Panetta: UAE about 3,000, Qatar 7,000 if you go through the region and add up all those numbers, that's the 40,000.
Senator Joe Lieberman: So has there been a decision made to increase that number at all because we were unable to reach an agreement about continuing presence of American troops in Iraq? In other words, keeping them in the region?
General Martin Dempsey: Yeah, I wouldn't describe it as cause-and-effect relationship based on what happened in Iraq but rather our continuing concern with a more assertive Iran and, uh --
Senator Joe Lieberman: Right.
General Martin Dempsey: -- we are looking at our central command footprint. You know, Senator, that prior to 2001, we had -- we routinely rotated brigades in and out of Kuwait for training --
Senator Joe Lieberman: Right.
General Martin Dempsey: But also as part of deterrance. And I think, we haven't negotiated this with Kuwait yet, but it would be my view that we should have some sort of rotational presence -- ground, air, and naval.
Senator Joe Lieberman: Some of those would be combat troops?
General Martin Dempsey: Absolutely.

Is everyone coming home? No.

On top of that (B), is every one leaving Iraq?


Even if negotiations for more US 'trainers' do not succeed, currently there will be US service members in Iraq under the State Dept and on the ten "enduring" bases Gen Martin Dempsey described in the hearing.

On Sunday, at Third, we wrote "Editorial: Words have meaning" because of one reader whose brother isn't leaving Iraq. She is pissed off and I don't blame her. You can't turn on the TV without hearing the lie that ALL are going HOME.

There's a reason the Pentagon is calling it "reposturing" and not "withdrawal." "Reposturing" captures what's going on and also notes that everyone's not leaving, everyone's not going home.

Zucchino is correct that many military families right now are worried about their loved ones still in Iraq. And I'm sure that means the world to many of those families. But I'm also sure that it is insulting to military families whose loved one is being sent to a neighboring country like Kuwait or to those whose loved one is not leaving Iraq December 31st. To those families, Zucchino is spitting in their faces. More than Judy Woodruff with her false claim of ALL troops going HOME because Zucchino grasps that it hasn't taken place yet and presents himself as somewhat aware of the problems and fears military families are facing right now. But he ignores the group everyone's ignoring. And those family members are getting pissed.

Since that editorial went up at Third, every day, we hear from more of them in e-mails. They are angry at the way the media's portraying things and so happy that our weak editorial (I'm calling it "weak" -- Ava and I worked on it and we were the only ones from Third who did due to the holiday -- others were kind enough to help out who are not part of Third and we thank them but Ava and I are in agreement that it could have been a lot stronger and should have been) at least acknowledged what some families are going through and will be going through beyond December 31st.

You don't have to cheer on the war, you never had to. Military families just want some sense that the press is aware of what their loved one is going through and what that means for them as they continue to worry about his or her safety. There is still no indication that the press grasps that some US military members will remain in Iraq and that some will remain in surrounding areas. But you better believe the families of those service members can't forget it. Just an acknowledgement of that would mean so much to them. They feel their loved ones truly are forgotten and there are serious fears about the small number who will remain in Iraq in terms of what happens if the whole thing explodes? That is a possibility. And their loved ones are at risk. It would be nice if the media could acknowledge those with tours that do not wind down on December 31st.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4486. Tonight it's [PDF format warning] 4486. Here's the screen snap:


The e-mail address for this site is