News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Be a patriot: kill another soldier

The Washington Post has taken Democratic candidates for the presidency to task for not acknowledging that the surge in Iraq has had some effect in reducing the violence in the country. This has occasioned some orgasmic-level glee in regressive quarters.

The argument is that the Democrats cannot credit some success in a war that is such a huge failure of intellect, morality and competence and, after voting against the surge, still express the intention of pulling our troops out at first opportunity. The Post takes that position that as long as violence is being reduced, the candidates should be following up on the "success" and building on what gains have been made. The editorial does give grudging assent to the validity of Hillary Clinton's response that even though the deaths of our troops have decreased, the 23 that were killed in December is still unacceptable.

Our troops have done exactly what soldiers have to do. They have followed orders, they have carried out their missions with competence and diligence. And they have been killed. And both Republicans and Democrats have remarked on the valor and effectiveness of our troops and, in an obvious effort to avoid the kind of vilification heaped on the troops during the Viet Nam era, they have pledged their support and honor.

There comes a point where such patronizing honor and support is the ultimate insult. As a veteran, I deplore the notion that the wasteful death and maiming of our troops can be expiated by rote lip service and a few yellow decals on automobiles. Such thoughtless and unsubstantial expressions of support actually term the troops expendable. To think that the ritual and meaningless words of support is an honor is a fatuous absurdity.

The best way to honor our troops is not to kill them. Instead we dismiss them as expendable and then mouth empty words over their demise and expect them to be satisfied with a patronizing little pat on the back. When our wounded do return home, we have shown little interest in their recovery and welfare.

The surge has reduced violence. As long as we keep troops in Iraq, pour in billions of dollars of our resources, and find ways to appease those who were killing our troops a few months back, some will claim success.

When we invaded Iraq, we broke it. Just as we are sacrificing our troops and our resources to try to fix it now, we have no future but further sacrifice to the point that we are breaking our own country.

So, maybe we will kill only another 25 or so soldiers this month and celebrate our good fortune and progress.

Some of us believe our soldiers and our country deserve better than that.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States