Sunday, January 28, 2007

"War and Occupation Will Never Bring Liberation! That's Bullshit! Get Off It! This War Is For Profit!

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That was one of the best chants at today's antiwar rally and march, which I attended with my 17-year-old daughter and two busloads of activists from NJ Peace Action. It was huge. We arrived at the Mall too late to hear Sean Penn speak, but we did get to listen to Jesse Jackson, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, and Jane Fonda -- the last one the biggest thrill for me.

According to the WaPo, the event organizers gave an attendance estimate of half a million, and I can easily believe that. Certainly it was far more than the "tens of thousands" figure mentioned in several of the news articles I've seen about the protest so far. The WaPo accurately pointed out that the post-rally march "... stretched the length of the route from the Mall, up Constitution Avenue to the east front of the Capitol and back to the Mall" -- after inexplicably claiming that "[t]he crowd, while exuberant, seemed significantly smaller than the half-million people organizers said were present and may not have matched similar protests in September 2005 and January 2003." The rally filled the mall as far back as the eye could see (and we were at the front of the rally, at the Capitol end, near the speakers); when the time came to start marching, the crush was so enormous that the part of the crowd where Maggie and I were standing could not even move a step for about 15 or 20 minutes.

As for the speakers, the two who stood out for me were Jane Fonda and Tim Robbins. Fonda was special because of the emotional enormity of her being there (and I hadn't known she was going to be there) after not being at any antiwar event for 34 years, and then getting to experience her presence with the next generation by my side. Robbins impressed me in general, but one thing in particular that he said really stunned me. He told the crowd that on the train going down to D.C., he had struck up a conversation with a young woman whose brother is one of the troops who are going to Iraq as part of the troop surge. His unit was already slated to go to Iraq, but not that soon; the schedule was moved up when Bush escalated the war. This young man's sister told Robbins that, because of the surge, her brother's unit was being deployed to Iraq so fast that their training period -- normally 12 weeks -- had been cut to two weeks. I will say that again. Pres. Bush is sending this soldier, and many others of course, to Iraq with only two weeks of training to fight the war. And this moral ant has the gall to lecture us about supporting the troops?


Chief said...

While the reduction in training is worth noting, more of an explanation of what type of training it is that is being cut. Without the knowledge of how much training the outfit he is in has had and are the expected assigned duties in line w/ their previous training/experience, criticism should be tempered.

While not an 'expert' on all things military, I can guarantee you that there is absolutely no amount of training that will prepare a person who as not had any combat experience for combat. Only O-J-T will accomplish that.

I wish I could have been on The Mall yesterday.

Chief said...

I am not a 'historian.' But I am a student of history. I like to find the causes of events.

Many years ago, I came to the conclusion that all events are caused by money, economics, the pursuit of wealth or however one wishes to phrase it.

I am not necessarily taking about the upfront actor, but the driving force is always about money, somewhere.

So, what is going on in Iraq has as its' impetus, someone finding a way to make a lot of money. Don't know whether it is the Carlisle Group, Aramco, or someone else. But someone (unknown to us) is manipulating something behind the scene and shaping public opinion.

Kathy said...

Okay, but isn't that a little like saying that no amount of being ready for parenthood will prepare you for being a parent until you actually are? It's certainly true, but it's also true that becoming a parent before you are prepared to handle it is a disaster.

This is not a perfect analogy, I know; but I'm hoping you understand what I'm trying to say. These soldiers are all presumably being sent to Iraq to face combat. Is there any category of assigned duties they could be reasonably prepared to face with only two weeks of training?

The point you make in your second comment is very apt (about money).

Also, what is O-J-T?

Chief said...

O-J-T = On the Job Training

My limited experience has taught me that somethings can best be learned OJT. That is not to say that we take green civilians and send them as cannon fodder to Iraq. But boot camp (or basic training) plus 10 - 12 weeks AIT (Advanced Infantry Training) is not, cannot and will not prepare an 18 year old for the sheer terror of somebody shooting at him and trying to kill him.

The training is a good beginning but being in combat does not compare to being a new parent. There is terror and fear and you are scared shit-less. Eventually, when that becomes the norm, you are able to function fairly effectively.

I certainly greive at the way Bush has abused the military and broken the Army and I wish that lady's brother well. Was he Army or National Guard?

Kathy said...

"But boot camp (or basic training) plus 10 - 12 weeks AIT (Advanced Infantry Training) is not, cannot and will not prepare an 18 year old for the sheer terror of somebody shooting at him and trying to kill him."

I can sympathize with what you're saying. What does the AIT teach the recruits?

I don't know if the woman's brother was Army or National Guard. I don't think Tim Robbins (who was relating the story) mentioned that.