I have just finished watching portions of this early morning CNN special detailing the horrific ways that the U.S. has been misleading and abusing our troops in Iraq — ranging from sending them out with minimal training and dangerously inadequate equipment to tricking them into joining the military for special field training which is then scrubbed to send them into the most dangerous categories as front line infantry or drivers of those trucks and humvees that are constantly being blown up by IEDs  — causing the bulk of the deaths and woundings as well as deep psychological scars (PTSD) as men and women are redeployed again and again with minimal leaves and medical follow up on their injuries — physical and psychological.

What the report details are high crimes being committed against our troops.  One gets the impression that the only generals retained by the Republican leadership are those that go along to get along whereas our younger officers are going ballistic over the abuses outlined above.

This all gets to me personally because some of my students (to whom I used to occasionally suggest getting training in specialized areas in our military) are among the victims.  Since 2003 there has been a consistent pattern of promising one type of training and geographical assignment which is quickly scrubbed as soon as the enlistees are hooked.  I think of those high school students being phoned at their homes afternoons when their parents are at work and being promised all sorts of goodies should they join up!  For some ungodly reason high schools were obliged to yield these home phone numbers to recruiters and I know of some parents who have been outraged to have their children solicited behind their backs.

The sad thing here is that before Rumsfeld the regular military or the National Guard were both good training opportunities or supplementary jobs.  For the National Guard one showed up on a Sunday, say, for training along with a two week summer session.  One could commit to more time for special training.  One of my daughters followed this route with plans to do her medical training in the military and actually was well launched in that direction when she decided with marriage and a growing family not to re-up and rather do her training privately which she is now doing with specialization in pediatrics.  As so many wives she has been obliged to do her studies in the trail of her husband’s jobs, but in now well along the way towards a Ph.D. degree in nursing.  She was a proud member of the military during the latter Clinton years when our forces were being used for peace-keeping activities, not illegal wars for which we were not prepared.  I met a number of her buddies then and I cringe at what may have been happening to them with the advent of what CNN rightly denominates, “Battlefield Breakdown.”

Apart from our young people being put in terrible jeopardy, the horrors of Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and the periodic reports of our troops deliberately murdering civilians add to the horror of our military being ground down and unfitted for times that it may really be needed.  Our National Guard should be here in the United States protecting us — not stranded in Iraq where even their basic equipment necessary for training and use here in the U.S. is being destroyed and scrapped.

We are being led as a nation by dishonest fools who are exacerbating the problem of terrorism while leaving us totally vulnerable on the home front.  I have pointed out numerous times that our NYC subways and trains leading in and out of the city, let alone our bridges and tunnels are totally unprotected from any one who can drive a vehicle or tug a bag into a train, subway car, or bus.  It is only a matter of time before we see here the threat today facing the Brits — and with additional threats of WMD being shipped to us in those millions of crates each year passing in through our ports and being loaded on trucks and trains without check or inspection.

Needless to say we must stop wasting $2 billion a week on Iraq — now having mounted to a half trillion $$$ which would better have been spent on homeland matters — security as well as others.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent  212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies] /  

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