16 July 2004

Not Your Father's Police Action

Over at the Washington Monthly, Phil Carter has an interesting column subtitled " How the Iraq disaster is making the U.S. Army stronger." Perhaps the most damning passage is this one:

Ever since the Iraq war began, American troops have been relearning the lesson they should have taken home from the engagements in Mogadishu and Port-au-Prince: America's high-tech, highly mobile military can scatter nearly any enemy. But it's not so easy to win the peace. Every war the United States has fought since Vietnam has required more troops for peacekeeping than for fighting. And the initial deployment of a too-small ground force to Iraq has forced the Army to play catch-up ever since.

(Emphasis added.) Surprisingly, I think that the population at large has absorbed this lesson better than has the senior leadership, uniformed or especially civilian.

I came on board shortly after Vietnam. I remember being called a "babykiller" because I dared wear a uniform on campus, to hard-core humanities classes no less. At that time, one could not possibly have imagined the following two campaign signs appearing not just on the same lawn, but as bumper stickers on the back of the same vehicle:

Support Our Troops
Carter for President

Yet, even in this heavily rural area, I see lots of "Support Our Troops" and "Semper Fi" stickers together with "Regime Change Begins at Home: Vote Out Bush" and "Kerry/Edwards" on the same vehicle. This isn't Chicago; it's a "Red County" in a "Blue State"; and it's immensely gratifying to see that the population understands that Abu Ghra'ib does not represent the "average fighting man/woman." It's just too damned bad that partisan politics is preventing our government officials (both current and aspirational) from admitting that.