Tuesday, May 24, 2005

And On And On....

By my count, at least fifteen U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq in the past 72 hours. We don't know how many have been permanently disfigured or disabled.

It continues to amaze me that this war and the loss of almost two thousand troops remain off the radar screen for most Americans. Could people be too busy flipping real estate or watching "The Apprentice" to care? The parallels to Vietnam keep building right under the noses of the pollyannas; for the first five years U.S. troops were there, that war was fairly popular with a passive American public. Then, as now, the rate of casualties for the first few years was deemed "acceptable" and low enough to keep it out of the public's daily consciousness.

Just as our political and military leaders continue to take short-lived victory laps when the insurgents decide to regroup for a few days, we keep hearing predictions about "exit strategies" and "timetables for withdrawal." Whenever I hear that, I immediately check the news to see if we've invented a way to take the oil with us. Because unless we do, we're not leaving---ever. Why is that so hard to understand? Is Iraq less important to us than other places we've kept thousands of troops for decades--nations like South Korea and Germany that have no critical natural resources? What did Vietnam have? We were there for thirteen years. To placate the public, "the need to train Iraqis so they can maintain their own security" will continue to be the mantra of the White House and Pentagon. As open-ended excuses go, it's perfect.

On Memorial Day, ABC's "Nightline" will again read the names of all troops killed over the past year. Because of the increased number of names, "Nightline" says it must extend the show by fifteen minutes. Will they have to do so again next year?

And will ABC again take heat for this, just as they did a year ago? After all, the press is our real problem now, right?

35 Comments:

Anonymous houstonpete said...

Megadittos again!

5/24/2005 7:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason this isn't on Americans radar screen as a problem is because in the back of everyone's mind is the comforting thought that "they attacked us" on 9/11/2001. The real question is where is the point at which "they attacked us" gets outweighed by "can we ever go back to way things were?" That will not be a fun day for America.

5/24/2005 7:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see if ABC gets demonized over this.

5/24/2005 8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you mean IFl it's a "slam dunk" !!!

5/24/2005 8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

45,000 Americans were killed in Vietnam. The American soldiers who were fighting and dying came from every town and every college campus in the country. That's why America rose up against the war.

2,000 deaths of self-selected soldiers from military and working-class communities won't have the same effect.

Why is this a surprise? The only comparison to Vietnam is that we're not winning. But that's not enough to get Americans to change their minds.

Sadly.

5/24/2005 10:29 PM  
Blogger The Mad Brewer said...

The lack of a draft is a big factor as well. There is no fear of "it could be me, it could be my son, if this doesn't stop." As Anonymous said (boy, he gets around, doesn't he) the current deaths are somewhat "self selected." There is an undercurrent with many of "they knew they could go to war when they joined."

How many days worth of traffic accidents does it take to reach 2000? About 18 according to 2003 data.

I wonder if it will make a difference when we pass the number killed on 9/11?

5/25/2005 2:57 AM  
Anonymous mary said...

anonymous and the mad brewer are right. the end of the draft makes the difference. In fact, on the military base where I work all the enlisted support the war. they are pretty angry with the coverage, feeling that it is too negative and that the troops' positive accomplishments aren't being recognized.

The only members of the American public that I have seen outrage from is some of the dead troops' families (e.g. the Tillmans), and some of the 9/11 families - the ones that came out in support of Kerry. Seems like it takes some personal experience with this administration to see the ugliness.

5/25/2005 7:25 AM  
Blogger Tayefeth said...

How many of the returning vets support the war? I know that the one I know best doesn't (and isn't thrilled with the treatment she's getting now that she's home, either).

5/25/2005 8:31 AM  
Anonymous mary said...

How many of the returning vets support the war?

Good point. I work on a medical base and the troops are nondeployable until their next assignment. I often wonder if they would still support the war so strongly if they were in any real danger of going there. Or if they'd been there. A few have been, but it was on 6 week assignments and they weren't in combat.

5/25/2005 8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is this off people radara all of the above.....

General fatigue with this administration and it's policies.

Too many things to be angry about that fear of drowning in rage/frustration is overwhelming.

No connections to the efforts in Iraq or Afghanistan - meaning no friends, relatives, acquaintances or even a desire to know because it is important.

No desire by those that supported (or continue to support)the war to face up to the reality that all is not going swimmingly and that they are complicit at least to the extent that they never bothered to question the "wisdom" of this venture. No one (especially in this administration) wants to admit they were wrong.

5/25/2005 9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Until the troops start complaining to the press, enough people refuse to enlist, or the financial cost of the war starts cutting into programs people want (and what's the chance of that happening when we can just charge the war on our national credit card?), it's rational to largely ignore the day to day operations. Respect the troops sacrifice, put the ribbons on your car, do all the rest of the ceremonial stuff if you want, but it doesn't make any actual difference to the outcome of the war.

As soon as the voters elected Bush and the republican majorities in both houses, they voted for more of the same whether they wanted to or not.

What's the point of listening to the latest press conference or feature article on the troops when we won't get the chance to vote on the issue until 11/06?

5/25/2005 9:45 AM  
Anonymous LAXca said...

If the wingnuts do attack ABC for this, I for one will raise my voice in protest. The names are being read on Memorial Day.

5/25/2005 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as long as the sofa is comfortble, people do not care. It was the same in the early 60's, as you note.

5/25/2005 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have a generation of youngsters that think like Britney Spears (BS): "Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision he makes and should just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens.". I betcha a lot of young people still don't know where Iraq is on a map; couple this with extremes in the NRA and religious right, oil, and a volunteer military; those that care (fits their agenda) are getting what they want, and the rest don't care because it doesn't impact their lives today.

Politicians use to pander to our dreams and a bright future, now its fear, dread, and financial insecurity. I shake my head when people say, "it is different now" - meaning 9/11 changed everything. I don't agree. imho, the same world environment existed, good, bad, people, before 9/11; it's just people didn't care and the media didn't cover it (doesn't monicagate really seem silly to more now); although some good publications did. 9/11 did one thing, it was a big enough event that it caused enough pain for enough people, that it gave an opening to this administration to do whatever it wanted.

Should the number of deaths dictate whether an action is good or bad. I don't think so. It is the merits of what we are doing in the first place (which makes me wonder why the admin had to stretch and lie) and if objectives are being met. Should the deaths be hidden, no. If we go to war, we should accept the consequences and face up to reality. We should be strong, mature, and treated like adults. After 9/11 our leadership told us to go back to our lives and shop; so the people are rising to the level of expectation.

I don't think we should have invaded Iraq, but now that we are there we have to do it right (which is questionable in itself). I agree with Senator Lindsey Graham about things like Abu Ghraib; those pictures should have come out because how do we fix what we do not know. I don't know who said this: "We always do what is right after we have tried everything else". As Lindsey said we have to show the world that we have principles and stand by them. Once we are aware of a wrong, we right it; show the world through positive action.

People do know that some good is going on in Iraq. To say other, is just propaganda again to discredit the media or those that are antiwar (i.e., Quakers) or saw another way. Do those in the military hear all sides; I suspect not (if you're just listening to Rush, you're not getting news, just biased oped). But those outside the military that know the good, also are wary of the bad (rational concern to the awareness of realistic dangers is healthy and indispensable), and everybody else doesn't care; if I'm poor I'm working too much, if I'm rich, well I'm playing too much, so don't bug me; and the rest of us are just plain frustrated and/or tired of the BS.

5/25/2005 11:21 AM  
Blogger Lifetime Fiscal Conservative said...

Anonymous said: "or the financial cost of the war starts cutting into programs people want"

This administration and the Republican Congress have effectively obscured this issue by digging a deeper and deeper hole of debt. There hasn't been any real attempt, including this last joke of a proposed budget, at paying for the war we started. It's politically more expedient to leave it to today's children to pay for. As Judge Rheinhold said in the movie Ruthless People, "if you can't afford it, F***ING FINANCE IT!".

5/25/2005 11:46 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

On behalf of everyone I am sure on this thread and most in this nation I just want to write to say thank you very much for those who serve in civil service and in service to this country. I appreciate my day off, but I appreciate your sacrifice even more.

Hopefully through our words and actions and by educating ourselves we John Q. Public can begin to serve you, too.

5/25/2005 1:40 PM  
Blogger owenz said...

Americans will pay attention when events demand they pay attention. The current stream of 2-3 casualties a day will not continue permanently. The most likely “attention getter” is a civil war. If Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds simply start killing each other, what will the US do? Another would be a spectacular, Beirut-style mass slaying of American soldiers. It’s kind of amazing that the insurgents haven’t pulled this off yet. If they can get a bomb into the green zone and kill 50 or 100 soldiers that will make people pay attention.

5/25/2005 2:32 PM  
Blogger owenz said...

Juan Cole generally provides links and daily stories relating to recent activities in Iraq. Today, however, he changes pace and offers an overview of the situation there. It's a must read:

http://www.juancole.com/2005/05/sometimes-you-are-just-screwed-readers.html

Depressing but important.

5/25/2005 3:32 PM  
Blogger owenz said...

Here's the link in two pieces:

http://www.juancole.com/2005/05/
sometimes-you-are-just-screwed-readers.html

5/25/2005 3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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5/25/2005 4:24 PM  
Anonymous tumota said...

Likewise, just found today and bookmarked as well.

5/25/2005 4:48 PM  
Anonymous semper fubar said...

I believe I read the oher day the the CBO was projecting that we'd spend $850 billion or so in Iraq through 2014. What caught my eye was that they were admitting we'd be there through 2014. (And of course, as we all know the real cost will be much, much, much higher)

I wonder how many soldiers will have died by 2014?

5/25/2005 8:11 PM  
Anonymous semper fubar said...

(Ugh. Please excuse the terrible typing. Should have previewed first)

5/25/2005 8:12 PM  
Blogger Tayefeth said...

We'll spend $850 billion in Iraq through 2014, but the reall fiscal crisis is Social Security, right? Because that's not funneling money into the hands of the already wealthy fast enough...

5/26/2005 9:02 AM  
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