This essay was originally published on buzzflash and answers the scandalous attack on John Kerry and Democrats by a Republican President and Congress that have caused needless tragedy in Iraq. Now they are even trying to cover up massive fraud in Iraq contracts by attempting to fire the Inspector General for Reconstruction.
To Military Families: This note will contain harsh words and for those who serve, and those who love them, two suggestions right at the top.
First, what follows here will be a series of facts that in my view justifies a vote for a Democratic Congress. Second, having been criticial of Democrats myself at times, you should take every opportunity to work with Democratic Leaders and if they do not live up to your standards, fire them in 2008, as Republicans should be fired in 2006.
It is factually correct and important that on issue after issue, year after year, Democrats in Congress have offered proposals for greater military, health care and financial support for our troops and vets and have been voted down, usually by party line votes, by the one party Republican Congress.
To military families and troops, the issue is much deeper than individual policies and amendments. It is the inherent abuse of any political institution controlled by only one party and disrespectful of all other opinion. It is inherent failure that follows the unprecedented attitudes of ridicule and derision that have led the President, the Vice President, and the Secretary of Defense to catastrophic mistakes that they were warned against, which led to many unnecessary deaths of our troops, which continue today.
It is accountability time.
Fact: before the Iraq war was initiated not merely one general, not merely two, but the entire command structure of the United States Marine Corps and the United States Army urgently fought for a far larger force to fight the war in Iraq. They were not enthusiastic about this war to begin with, but they strongly urged that if it were waged, troop strength needed to be double to triple the inadequate troop levels forced upon them, against their judgment and advice.
They were ignored, in some cases demeaned, at times verbally abused by civilians. Because of this attitude, the force was too small, and too many troops died because of the misjudgments that were inevitable results of this attitude of intolerance and contempt, towards those who knew the most about war, from those who knew the least.
Fact: LIke our commanders, the political and military leaders of the NATO alliance warned very strongly against the war policies that the President so obsessively pursued. Remember when our sneering Secretary of Defense spoke words of mockery and ridicule towards what he called "Old Europe", which was really a contemptous sneer towards the NATO alliance.
This atttude of intolerance, ridicule, contempt towards the military alliance that has served the world brilliantly for generations of American Presidents, from both parties, led to inevitable and catastrophic disasters and the death of too many American troops from this attitude and these mistakes.
Contempt can kill.
Fact: Before this war was waged, there were desperate attempts to persuade the President that well-planned policies of reconstruction and rebuilding Iraq were urgently needed.
The entire command structure wanted post- war planning. The Secretary of State and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff argued vehemently for post war planning. The man designated by the President to lead post war reconstruction, General Garner, pleaded for more support and warned the President he was not being given the tools.
Such plans were made in detail, but those who made them, those who advocated them, were treated with ridicule and contempt and they were thrown away. The contemptous attitude of the President and Secretary of Defense directly created failed reconstruction policies, and directly led to the death of too many American troops.
Ridicule can kill.
Fact: When American bombs were exploding on Osama Bin Laden's cave at Tora Bora the command structure of the American mlitary, our special forces, our CIA, pleaded for reinforcements so they could finish the job and kill Bin Laden and the terrorist commanders who were with him.
Again, the President, Vice President and the Secretary of Defense showed disrespect and disregard for them, because they were so obsessed with their war in Iraq. Their advice was rejected, reinforcements were not sent, Bin Laden and his commanders escaped and regrouped with some ultimately finding their way to Iraq. Because of the inevitable disaster caused these attitudes of obsession and contempt for advice, American troops ended up being needlessly killed.
Obsession can kill. Disrespect for advice and military opinion can kill. Contempt can kill.
Fact: from the beginning of "Reconstruction" in Iraq our commanders on the ground, our State Department and agencies that specialize in development all warned that money was being wasted, lost and stolen because the program was being run by young Republican political ops rather than experts.
They repeatedly warned that no bid contracts, crony deals, and bucks for crooks were wasting taxpayer's money and wasting resources that should have made life better for Iraqis whose hearts and minds we need to win, and should have provided desperately needed equipment for our troops.
Again, they were disrespected, ignored and treated contemptously. Again, the inevitable disaster caused directly by these reprehensible and arrogant attitudes, caused directly the needless death of American troops.
Fact: for two years military experts, military families and American troops pleaded for body armor, fortified vehicles, bandages, helmets and other equipments that were in disastrously short supply. Military moms and dads contacted the Pentagon, pleaded for support, and scoured the internet for the supplies the President failed to provide.
Our troops even told the media, with one brave American directly staring down the Secretary of Defense at a public meeting, then being ridiculed himself by right wing media as a whiner and complainer, fed talking points against him by Republican spinmeisters.
Again, military leaders, troops, moms and dads were disrespected and ignored until the Marine Corps pathologist publicly stated that up to 70% of American casualties were not caused by the enemy, but were preventable, and were caused by the neglect from Washington.
Again, the inevitable disaster caused by these attitudes of derision and disrespect led directly to the preventable deaths of American men and women in uniform.
Fact: from the beginning of this war until today virtually the entire Administration of President George Herbert Walker Bush, including former President Bush himself, warned against this policy and urged, repeatedly, different policies that would have would mobilized our allies and included serious diplomacy with the nations of the region. They knew how to run and win a war in Iraq, but they were ignored, disrespected and given the back of the hand from those who made this mess today.
Again, the inevitable disasters followed from these attitudes of derision and disrespect against those who had run successful wars, and again, these attitudes directly led to the unncessary deaths of American troops.
Fact: the American intelligence community from every agency argued that this war creates more terrorists than we kill. And what is the response of the President? Even when he knew they strongly believed this in a national intelligence estimate they all signed, he kept the report secret, publicly stated the opposite, and treated these views with contempt.
Again, because of the inevitable disasters caused by these reprehensible attitudes of disrespect, the result was more preventable deaths of Americans wearing our uniform.
Finally, for military families, troops who will vote, patriotic Americans who want to do the right thing on election day, these attitudes, these disaster, these destructive policies and the attitudes behind them continue to this day.
Only days ago, an American soldier was missing and probably taken hostage by murderous Shi'ite militia who support the current Iraqi leader. It is a time honored truth that in our military, we never leave anyone behind, so our military set up checkpoints to fight to get him back safely.
Even after the President conferenced last weekend with Mr. Al Maliki, the Iraqi leader allied with the Shi'ite militia and with the government of Iran, gave our President and commanders the back of his hand, ordered the checkpoints ended and risked the sacrifice of an American soldier, because the government we support is allied with those who are killing our troops.
This is crazy. And what is the response of our President? He lets it happen, while his party fills the airwaves with negative television ads, in their desperate hunger to keep one party power in Washington, so they can have two more years without changing the policy that has done so much deadly damage to our troops and our security.
Fact: even now the Secretary of Defense holds a news conference telling Americans to sit back, chill out, stop worrying, and stay the course. What a staggering demonstration of contempt for the vast majority of Americans, for common sense, at a time when American commanders are warning that the situation is degenerating into chaos and potential collapse.
How many more Americans must give their lives for policies so disastrous and attitudes so contemptuous? How much more damage must be done, by those so dismissive and derisive when the dangers and disasters are so clear, to everyone but them?
To military families, the stakes in this election are these: if the Republicans keep control of both Houses of Congress, they will feel these policies are vindicated with their power unchecked. Within days of the election we will learn of more troops being sent to Iraq, and more Army, Marines and Reserves recycled back to continue a policy that is a road to even greater disaster.
If the Democrats are elected to control of Congress, both parties will sit down with a mutual respect that has been lacking for six years, the attitudes of derision and contempt will change because they will have to, and the policy will change with two party government and mutual respect returning to Washington.
There are no easy answers in Iraq; this is a hard situation, with mistakes that have given us only painful options. These are hard words, these are hard truths, these are hard times. The right thing to do, in my humble opinion, is restore two party government, mutual respect, and common sense in Washington, because it is time for accountability, and time for change.