Huffpost Politics

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Robert J. Elisberg Headshot

When Total Recall is Actually Something to Forget

Posted: Updated:

President Bush has ordered the Marines to recall 2,500 troops who have already completed their four years of active duty in Iraq. The recall was made necessary because of a shortfall in volunteers.

Nooooo? Go figure. And they didn't see this one coming? Then again, these are the same people who didn't see Iraq's civil war coming either, as General Pace has testified, so one shouldn't be terribly surprised. Of course, they didn't even anticipate the insurgency, period, so this whole "We just figured people would be lining up to volunteer for Iraq" thing probably is pretty small by comparison.

What should have been the first hint that it was going to be hard to get volunteers for the military? Hmmm. Maybe it was the sight of unsuspecting members of the National Guard - young men and women who'd expected to protect Alabama, lured to a life of ease by rumors of poster boy Airman George W. Bush getting to go AWOL without punishment - and not only sending them to Iraq, but never letting them leave. That probably should have been the first tip-off.

And now this recall.

Talk about your great recruiting ploy. Man, and they thought getting volunteers was hard before?!! What's their slogan going to be now?

"Join the U.S. Military and See One Particular Part of the World. Forever."

George Bush is turning Iraq into the military version of the movie, "Groundhog Day." Living the worst day of your life over and over and over again.

Yipes, when people have complained about not having an exit strategy, who knew they were referring to just getting out of the military?

Keep in mind, that this isn't just bringing up any old troops. The Individual Ready Reserve are Marines who have actually completed their active duty. Yes, that word was "completed." Done. Finito. For all intents, they have retired. Sure, they still have an obligation for four additional years, but once you've unpacked your duffel and gotten on with your life, even Michael Jordan wasn't his old self when he came back. And that was his own choice. And he got paid millions. And the only shooting required were three-pointers. Which don't shoot back.

By the way, that heart-wrenching wail of anguish you hear at this news is not from the Marines themselves. No, the people most distraught and pounding their breasts are Republican candidates this November.

Try spinning this one from the stump. Republicans running for office may say they're happy to "Stand by our President," but that's only as long as the President is standing somewhere else at the time.

Who would have guessed that this would be the October Surprise? (Anyone who had "Recalling 2,5000 Marines after completing their tour of duty" in the office pool is going to clean up.) We all knew Karl Rove had tricks up his sleeve, but this? And it's not even October yet. Maybe October is when they bring back the World War II vets.

It should be noted that there is one bit of inaccuracy in the news reports:

According to CNN, "Though the initial recall is for 2,500 troops, there is no cap on how many could be called up in the future." However, happily, it turns out that this isn't at all true. There are 59,000 Marines in the Individual Ready Reserve. The cap therefore is 59,000.

Of course, for other reservists anywhere in the military, all bets are off. And the way things are going, who knows?, if they really start completely running out of volunteers - as it appears - "reserves" might end up being a code word for "American youth between the draft age of 18-25."

(Note: those of you in the "American Public Reserves," it might be a good time to find out if prayer can be considered one of those faith-based initiatives.)

This November, as the Marine Reservists re-pack their bags to return to Iraq and start to sing, "I'll Be Home for Christmas," no doubt their loved ones will stare at them incredulously and petulantly stomp, "Yeah, yeah, you said that last year."

It's small comfort that the last line of the song is, "If only in my dreams."

Marine officials have suggested that the recalled Marines could remain active for an additional 12 to 18 months. Unfortunately, that's in dog years.

Of course, all of this could have been avoided. If only President Bush had lived by the words of Ronald Reagan. When asked about his knowledge of the arms-for-hostage deal, Mr. Reagan's response was simple.

"I can't recall."