Monday, October 06, 2008

Being Against The War Means Being Actively Interested In The War

Because we were catching up on old episodes of Army Wives before I came upstairs this evening, I am reminded of a fact few people know about the Radical: her connections to the military. Two of my cousins served in Gulf I; and we had a family connection who was deployed to Afghanistan with the Special Forces a couple years back. In fact I, and my sister, are the first generation of my father's family to have not served in the military since at least the American Revolution (since our family comes from western Massachusetts, it seems likely that we could take that date back to the French and Indian War, and perhaps even Metacom's War.) Not accidentally, one of my current favorite activities is reading the blogs of military wives (who probably detest Army Wives, much as medical people scoff at ER and Grey's Anatomy.) At The Real Army Wife you can read the thoughts of an infantry Lieutenant's spouse; her husband is deployed in the Sand Box (this is the kind of lingo you learn if you watch Army Wives, friends, the first season of which can be obtained on DVD.) While the Lieutenant is away, Real Army Wife is organizing for Obama, in addition to living her real life as a marketing exec. Rock on, dear. I hope you are on a base in a swing state. Like North Carolina.

Did you know that some of the important organizers in the early Civil Rights movement in the South were white military wives from the North stationed on bases? True. Progressives are everywhere.

Another military blogger -- who found me, and who I have enjoyed a short correspondence with (she is a McCain/Palin supporter, I'm pretty sure, although she and her family are being trasnferred to England before the election) is Household 6 Hooah's Weblog. Her husband, who sounds like career army, just finished his second deployment, and got home a couple days ago. So they are in the midst of what I imagine is a joyous -- and complicated -- transition. I am very happy too. Once I got to know this blogger a bit, read her blog, and grew to admire her resilience, I became very anxious about her husband's return. I am very relieved, therefore, that he is safe home, and I can put my mind on other things, like the search committee I am running, and the paper I have to give in two weeks. I like this gal, whose email tag is Mommy2MyLilSpud: she's cheerful, and reminds you that not everyone who is involved in the war is a screaming mess like they suggest in the newspapers. This is something I am glad to know, because one of the things that bothers me most about the last seven years is the endless human damage that often begins with the soldier and radiates outward to all his loved ones. But Mommy2MyLilSpud is a one foot in front of the other type of person whose toast seems to fall butter side up most of the time as a result, and I bet there are thousands more like her.

I am reminded when I read military family blogs that for those of us who are against the war it is a complicated issue to extend our sympathy and affection to those who have agreed to fight it. But it is something worth attempting because it expands the world of those of us who the government has deliberately shielded from the emotional consequences of this endless conflict (it does seem the economic consequences are coming home to roost, although as usual, those who made the war will suffer the least.) I can't help extending myself, since my family, as well as my accidental, connections to the military keep me alert to those around me for whom the war is their life context right now (for example, the son of one of my Zenith colleagues was in Desert Storm, having joined the Army to get a civil service ranking that would allow him to be a forest ranger; another friend volunteers to help resettle Iraqi refugees, many of whom have had to flee because they worked for the American military.)

But I also think it is worthwhile for anyone who really believes they are going to support the kind of change Obama is promising after he is elected President to be in touch with military people, deliberately if necessary. Cleaning up after this war -- and the many people who have been harmed by it -- will be a huge part of what will be there waiting for the new President in 2009. Not to mention rebuilding a military that has been decimated by this conflict, and taking it back from the Blackwater, Halliburton and the other Bush cronies taxpayer money has been siphoned off to for the last six years. We need to compensate and care for the veterans, who have been routinely cheated of their bonuses, health care, and disability benefits, so that the money can be cycled back to an Iraqi government that is operating many billions of dollars in the black. Meanwhile the people who politicians refer to collectively as "heroes" are becoming homeless and have little or no access to health care after having been demobilized with severe health problems.

So for those of you who are anti-war: a vote for Obama is a vote for our troops. Get out there and do it in November. Hoo-ah.


davidjhemmer said...

Great post. Aren't you therefore concerned that Obama couldn't bring himself to visit either Iraq or Afghanistan for almost 3 years, and didn't do so until he was shamed into it by the McCain campaign and various websites with "countdowns" keeping track of how many days since he had done so.

And at this point what do you see as the difference between Obama and McCain on Iraq? Before the surge the difference was huge, Obama wanted a withdrawal as quickly as feasible, McCain supported the surge. Now with the success of the surge their positions are almost indistinguishable, only a matter of parsing words like "timetable" "deadline" etc.. but in practical terms they are both going to stay the course and slowly withdraw as the situation on the ground is consolidated.

Tenured Radical said...

Under what auspices was Obama to visit Iraq prior to becoming a Senator? State legislatures rarely send their members abroad to investigate a theater of war.

And no, I don't think it is a question of parsing. John McCain's commitment to occupying Iraq is open-ended, while Obama has committed to withdrawing our troops in a responsible way. Click on these links: only a very superficial, and incorrect, reading would say that these policies are in any way similar.


davidjhemmer said...

I am talking about while he was in the Senate, there was more than 900 days in a row that he did not visit Iraq or Afghanistan. During this time he was harshly criticizing the Bush policy, harshly criticizing the surge. Obama predicted the surge would not only not work, he predicted it would lead to a large increase in violence. He apparently didn't see any need to see for himself or talk to the commanders on the ground for this 900+ day stretch.

As for the two plans Obama-Biden say in part:

"Under the Obama-Biden plan, a residual force will remain in Iraq and in the region to conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions against al Qaeda in Iraq and to protect American diplomatic and civilian personnel."

McCain-Palin link says:

"“I do not want to keep our troops in Iraq a minute longer than necessary to secure our interests there.... To promise a withdrawal of our forces from Iraq, regardless of the calamitous consequences to the Iraqi people, our most vital interests, and the future of the Middle East, is the height of irresponsibility. It is a failure of leadership."

I don't see a lot of difference here. McCain says we will be out as soon as we can. Obama says we will be out as soon as we can, probably 16 months but maybe not.

Tenured Radical said...


Has anyone every suggested to you that you are just a little bit obsessive, and that you will do anything to both create an argument and sustain it indefinitely?


davidjhemmer said...

no, I find though when arguing with liberals they are usually only good for about 2-3 exchanges before they run into logical inconsistencies and have to change the topic.

Tenured Radical said...

Well, there you go.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the shout out! And thanks for noticing my "Pollyanna" attitude -- I find it helps.

While I am a McCain supporter (and it's not the military man that is the reason I support him.) I think that you really don't know how a president will help/hurt the military ever. Both sides come out saying the support the military. I think that if either side came out against the military, it would be a shot in the foot! I don't believe Bill Clinton ever said anything against the military, but his cut backs in the military budget caused the mililtary to not be as strong as it should be. I'm a semi-conservative for many other reasons! LOL

And RWP, I think you should use the word "fanatic" in front of your title! Visiting Iraq means nothing to me. When any politian visits Iraq or Afghanistan, they are in the Green Zone and are protected to the extreme. They do not see the troops in the midst of the "real" work. Personally, I feel that any political visit is a photo op and nothing more then a waste of money for the protection that they are given while there.

As for the show "Army Wives", we are addicted to it here! While we find so many things wrong with what we see, the overall sense of unity, friendship and support are there. And that is what real Army wives are like. In the midst of turmoil, we never turn our backs on each other. It's often like our soldier spouses in the field. They take care of each other there, we do it on the homefront. One of the biggest "wrongs" on the show is the deployment and homecomings -- it never happens on a sunny day at a reasonable hour! My soldier left in the rain at 1 am and returned in the cold and wind at 3 am!

PS I only have time to read and respond because my soldier has to in-process before he gets time off. He arrived yesterday at 0300, reported to formation at 1300, was home by 1700 and then had to report again for formation at 0700 this morning. (They don't show this on Army Wives either.)

davidjhemmer said...


What you wrote is demonstrably false. When McCain visited Iraq (several times) he most certainly did not stay in the Green Zone, he traveled around the country. And good luck finding photos, you won't find many because McCain does not use these meetings as photo ops.

Also he met with the top commanders and talked with regular trooops. Obama never even asked to talk to the commanders in person or by phone for 3 years until he was called out on it by McCain.

Anonymous said...

Well, I am glad that McCain did that, but that was not my overall point. I don't care if they visit over there. I think that it creates issues with security, they all have to be protected and can distract from the overall mission. Visiting Iraq does not make anyone more qualified to be president. Case in point -- did Sarah Palin's visit to Iraq make her more qualified?

And I think you just post comments here to cause an arguement! I read many blogs that include political issues to see all sides. And I also choose blogs that, while one sided, are not so far to the left or the right that they can not see the others point of view.

Anonymous said...

Sarah Palin actually didn't visit Iraq. She stood on the Kuwait-Iraq border and looked over into Iraq.

Kinda like she looks over into Russia while standing in Alaska.

(Come to think of it, the inhabitants of that little AK island that you can see Russia from claim that she never visited there..very few even knew who she was)

Anonymous said...

RWP should also check out the conclusions of the new NIE, which casts strong doubts on the proclaimed "success" of the surge. So much for us liberals and our logical inconsistencies...

Margot said...

It is not just Army families who are paying the price in Iraq and Afghanistan. Marine families have been in the sand box for years and now Air Force and Navy servicemen/women are also being sent as ground pounders because of the sheer lack of people to fill the ever pressing needs. If you are interested in their sacrifices, I suggest you check out (Anchored Away's husband is in Afghanistan now) and (Kimba's Navy family is off to Germany soon), and of course references therein.
We are all suffering in this war and we are fed up. We need people to stop slapping vain sentiments on their bumpers and actually do something for the troops.

Corvi said...

Another Army wife for Obama here. Like Household6hooah, I can assure you that visiting dignitaries just create trouble for the guys in theater. (Like Bush's visit to Afghanistan that delayed my husband's return for five days. Grr.)

The Repubs have had the White House for 8 years (and the Congress before and most of the 8) and have hosed the country beyond reckoning. I can't see giving it back to them just because they're talking "change!" while promising more of the same.

I live near Ft Bragg, and believe me when I tell you, this was Bush Country four years ago. Today, not so much.

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