Tuesday, August 15, 2006

More Anti-Americanism, More Tours of Duty, More Recruiting Fraud,
More Desertions, More Dying

No surprise, the bombing campaign against Lebanon has been great for anti-Americanism:

As the cease-fire dawned on Monday morning, Israeli airplanes blanketed Beirut with leaflets showing a cartoon of a black-turbaned cleric, presumably Sheik Nasrallah, poised over a sandcastle, saying that Hezbollah and its Syrian and Iranian masters had brought the Lebanese people to "the edge of the abyss" with only "destruction, displacement and death." The leaflet warned that Israel could return "with all necessary might."

But the psychological warfare appeared to have little effect on the refugees packing up their belongings and heading south, expressing their hatred for Israel -- and, to a striking degree in this normally Western-leaning nation -- for America, which is seen as the Israelis' unquestioning backer.

"Bush did this," said Majid Kubaisy, standing in the broken glass and rubble of his sportswear shop in a largely Shiite area of southern Beirut. Residents returned to a desolate landscape of ruined apartment buildings cascading dust and the smell of explosives.

Like many of the people who were finding their way back to their old neighborhoods, Mr. Kubaisy blamed the United States as much as Israel for the destruction, saying the conflict had only redoubled his allegiance to Hezbollah.

"If Nasrallah will raise his hand, everyone will follow," he said. "This time we defended our land, next time we will take the offensive."

Sean Hannity told listeners on his radio show last night that Israel should have nuked Lebanon -- then protested that he didn't mean Israel should actually have done that.

Knight-Ridder's Tom Lasseter reports that in Iraq, conditions are getting steadily worse, and the Bush administration's refusal to admit it only makes it harder to make things better:

As security conditions continue to deteriorate in Iraq, many Iraqi politicians are challenging the optimistic forecasts of governments in Baghdad and Washington, with some worrying that the rosy views are preventing the creation of effective strategies against the escalating violence.

Their worst fear, one that some American soldiers share, is that top officials don't really understand what's happening. Those concerns seem to be supported by statistics that show Iraq's violence has increased steadily during the past three years.

"The American policy has failed both in terms of politics and security, but the big problem is that they will not confess or admit that," said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of parliament. "They are telling the American public that the situation in Iraq will be improved, they want to encourage positive public opinion (in the U.S.), but the Iraqi citizens are seeing something different. They know the real situation."

Othman charges that top American officials spend most of their time in the heavily guarded Green Zone in Baghdad and at large military bases across the country, and don't know what's happening in the neighborhoods and provinces beyond.

George Will calls it "the triumph of unrealism."

Is this what "supporting the troops" means? To watch with rose-colored glasses while American men and women sink into a vast mudhole?

Not hardly. ePluribusMedia reports on the reaction of some military families to being told that tours of duty were being extended for loved ones who had only just returned home:

Last month when Donald Rumsfeld announced that tours of duty for some U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq would be extended, he blithely said that:

...folks are so proud of what they're doing and so convinced what they're doing is right that morale has been uniformly very good, and I see it even among the families...

Does he? Apparently he hasn't visited a website created for the families of the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

My husband (like others) is tired. Morale over there is shit and they are being treated like yesterdays trash on top of it all...We can't let the media and the governement just let them suffer in a shithole over there. We can't let them think that we are ok with this. Don't get me wrong...I am incredibly proud of my husband and what he is doing, but I will NEVER be ok with this! NEVER!!!

It's easy to forget that there are two shitholes in which North Americans (which means Canadians, too) are suffering. It's also easy to forget that when our troops suffer, the suffering goes up for everyone.

What with all this suffering and all the broken promises, military recruiters have been finding it necessary to hard-sell enlistment for a while now. Now, a GAO study reveals that a growing number of recruiters are resorting to intimidation and outright criminal activity to fill their sign-up quotas. And the Air Force Times reports that desertions are up: Since 2000, 40,000 soldiers have deserted from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force combined.

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