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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Monday, December 20, 2004

A carrot, a stick, and some angry mules

posted by Jazz at 12/20/2004 09:41:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

You're probably familiar with the concept of keeping the mule going by tying a carrot on a string to a stick and hanging it out in front of the beast. The problem is, sooner or later even the most loyal and willing mule will catch on to the trick. As with most Monday mornings, today Bob Herbert has a column up titled "War on the cheap" in the Times which gives an ugly but apt description of the effect which continual deployment extensions are having on the troops in Iraq.

Troops approaching the end of their tours in Iraq are frequently dealt the emotional body blow of unexpected orders blocking their departure for home. "I've never seen so many grown men cry," said Paul Rieckhoff, a former infantry platoon leader who founded Operation Truth, an advocacy group for soldiers and veterans.

"Soldiers will do whatever you ask them to do," said Mr. Rieckhoff. "But when you tell them the finish line is here, and then you keep moving it back every time they get five meters away from it, it starts to really wear on them. It affects morale."


The cost on the troops is far more than a few hurt feelings. Estimates have been given that we are already dealing with tens of thousands of troops dealing with psychological damage, on top of the thousands that are maimed. Since none of this is a secret, it's continuing to have an effect on recruitment.

[T]he chief of the Army Reserve, Lt. Gen. James Helmly, told The Dallas Morning News that recruiting was in a "precipitous decline" that, if not reversed, could lead to renewed discussions about reinstatement of the draft. The Bush administration, which has asked so much of the armed forces, has established a pattern of dealing in bad faith with its men and women in uniform. The callousness of its treatment of the troops was, of course, never more clear than in Donald Rumsfeld's high-handed response to a soldier's question about the shortages of battle armor in Iraq.

This is all squarely on the shoulders of the planners, e.g. Rummy, and yet amazingly he is one of the only graduates of the first Bush II venture being asked to stay on for another semester. The issue of the draft is long past ripening for discussion. I understand that the Bush bobbleheads had a dire need to make fun of such suggestions during the election, since it could have cost our Glorious Misleader his office. But now that he's safely hoodwinked the country into four more years, it's time to face the prospect that a draft may be coming in the near future.

So... thanks again, Red Staters! Love ya!