Monday, April 20, 2015

Call Me Irresponsible

Mammas don't let your babies grow up to be soldiers

I understand the campaign season is starting and candidates need to get their names out, but if what we've heard the past month coming out of the GOP tent revival is any indication of what's in store, we are in for one of the worst election years ever.  It is hard to fathom some of the comments, such as prospective presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's call to parents to not have their children join the military, presumably because Obama has made it a "secular" armed forces,

There's nothing more honorable than serving one's country and there's no greater heroes to our country than our military, but I might suggest to parents, I'd wait a couple of years until we get a new commander-in-chief that will once again believe that people of faith should be a vital part of the process of not only governing the country, but defending this country.

The theme of this year's GOP campaign is all about religion, and more specifically the Christian faith, which he like the other Republican candidates believes is being undermined by the Obama administration.  For the record, what the military services have cracked down on is proselytizing within the ranks, which had resulted in a number of complaints.  You are free to practice your religion in the military, and there are chaplains representing all faiths, but you are not allowed to inflict your religion on others.  Due to the large number of incidents the Military Religious Freedom Foundation was established by Mikey Weinstein, who was appalled when his sons, both cadets at the Air Force Academy, had taken a considerable amount of abuse for their Jewish faith.  Weinstein was a former White House counsel to Ronald Reagan.

Of course, the good governor is playing to the sentiments of the religious conservative base of the Republican party and was careful to include Jews as "people of faith," so I imagine he too would have been appalled by this virulent anti-semitism that was expressed.  But, do we even need to be discussing religion in the military, given the freak show we currently see playing out in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, where religious fundamentalists are waging jihads to take over Iraq and the Levant.

Cotton Goes to War

It seems the religious fundamentalism is no less extreme in the Republican party if various GOP candidates have taken up Tom Cotton's call to arms against Iran, which is being presented as the instigator of the "Islamic State" rebellion in the Middle East.  It doesn't matter that most Iranians practice an entirely different form of Islam than do the Sunni rebels who comprise the bulk of this movement that has swept the Arab peninsula, and in fact has reared its ugly head in such far flung places as Denmark and Australia.

Where Iran does play a role is in forming a bond with the current government of Iraq, which the US supports by the way, and has thus been labeled "rejectionists" by the Sunni extremists, who want to retake Iraq, ignoring the fact that the overwhelming majority of Iraqis are Shi'a by faith.  Unfortunately, Congressmen like Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz are maliciously unaware of this.  What can you expect when Cruz's foreign policy advisor is John Bolton.

With Iraq literally in flames, I would think the last thing you want is another war in the region.  No matter, it seems the Republican party now believes in perpetual war.  Remember this is the same party that rejected Bill Clinton's air strikes in the bitterly divided Yugoslavia back in the 1990s.  Senator McCain himself likened the war in Bosnia to Vietnam and Lebanon, calling it "a civil war with a great difficulty in differentiating between participants," with no clear-cut military objectives.   Too bad the Republicans no longer heed their own advice.  Now, we hear them rail against a president who emphasizes caution and diplomacy.

While Mike Huckabee urges parents not to let their children serve in the military under Obama, a significant number of Republicans call for a bombing campaign in Iran, presuming it could be done in "a couple of days."   I guess they figure this can be achieved without calling up any soldiers from the national guard and reserve, as had been the case through the Iraq and Afghan wars.  The military found itself with an insufficient number of enlisted men to fill the military rotations.  Reservists comprised nearly one-third of the military service in these two wars.

As the old saying goes, you can't have your cake and eat it too.  If you want to engage in wars abroad you need manpower, regardless of who is president.  I thought we learned from Vietnam, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, that you aren't going to create regime change from the air, and even if you do there is no way of insuring that the regime you topple will be replaced by one more acceptable to your tastes.

I think it is time to practice responsibility and to stop viewing our military as some kind of international SWAT team you can call in to rid the world of evil tyrants or take out nuclear facilities of your choosing.  And, certainly take no advice from John Bolton and Dick Cheney, who proved themselves notoriously irresponsible in foreign affairs under the Bush administration.

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