Tag Archives: Iraq War

War with Iran? Are you really serious about that?

The chicken hawks who are advising Donald Trump to launch military strikes against Iran need to have their heads examined.

Yep, they’re aboard the “war with Iran” hay wagon. They are led by national security adviser John Bolton, who long has favored “regime change” in Tehran. This is frightening and dangerous stuff, ladies and gentlemen.

The Iranians reportedly have been launching attacks on commercial vessels sailing in international waters. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says U.S. intelligence has confirmed Iranian involvement. In an ironic twist, I should add, Pompeo has endorsed the intelligence analysis on the Iranian involvement from the same people he and Donald Trump have dismissed when they said the Russians attacked our electoral system in 2016; go figure, eh?

We must not go to war with Iran because of attacks on commercial vessels.

Some members of the Senate are calling for “retaliatory strikes” against Iran. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, is one of them. To be fair, I don’t include Sen. Cotton in the “chicken hawk” cadre; he served as an Army infantry officer who saw combat in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

His prior military experience does not make his argument correct. A retaliatory strike is bound to produce a vigorous military response from the Islamic Republic of Iran. And by vigorous, I mean deadly, as in ferocious.

Do we really want to engage in yet another war with a Middle East nation? Good grief! Please, let us not go there!

The Iranians already have announced their plans to exceed their nuclear enrichment limits as payback for Trump’s decision to pull out of the agreement that sought to ban Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. The president pulled out even though other signatory nations said the Iranians were complying with the restrictions.

This is not how you “make America great again,” Mr. President.

This saber-rattling is making me very nervous.

Military service becoming a 2020 issue in POTUS campaign?

Here’s a bet I’m willing to make: If Joe Biden becomes the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nominee, he will not discuss the bone spurs that kept Donald Trump out of military service during the Vietnam War.

Why? It turns out the former vice president has a potentially dubious medical deferment issue of his own. It appears that childhood asthma kept the ex-VP from being drafted into the military during the war. He had a 1-Y deferment, which disqualified him from the draft.

Now, is it more real, more legitimate than the bone spurs that Trump claimed to have while he was getting those multiple deferments back in the old days? I don’t know.

Veterans across the country, though, are looking at the field of Democrats running for their party’s nomination. Of the whole lot of them, we have three vets seeking the presidency: Pete Buttigieg, a Navy reserve officer who served in Afghanistan, Tulsi Gabbard, who served with the Hawaii Army National Guard in Afghanistan as well as in Kuwait and Seth Moulton, a Marine who also saw service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To be honest, this veteran — as in me — hasn’t made military service a determining factor in deciding for whom to vote for president. Heck, I voted for a draft-dodger twice, in 1992 and 1996. Yes, Bill Clinton’s clumsy explanation about not remembering getting a draft notice didn’t go down well with me, nor with other veterans. I feel confident in disclosing that those who did get a draft notice never “forget” that moment.

However, it didn’t deter me from voting for him for president.

Trump’s deferments do seem phony. He also continues to blather about hypotheticals involving that time. He said recently would have been “honored” to serve. Hmm. And this individual who lies about everything at every opportunity no matter its significance expects me to believe that?

I’ll just stand by my wager that Joe Biden damn sure should steer far away from this military service matter if he intends (a) to be nominated by Democrats and (b) then defeat Donald Trump.

The field is full of issues to raise against the president that have nothing to do with bone spurs, the Vietnam War and medical deferments.

Our heroic warriors do not ‘die in vain’

A social media acquaintance of mine tells me that Memorial Day is a holiday he wishes “we didn’t need.”

Amen to that.

I want to offer a point of view, though, that might puzzle some readers of this blog. If it does, I will try my best to explain.

My belief is that service personnel who die in conflicts that are deemed to be “politically unpopular” do not “die in vain.” I hear that kind of criticism leveled at our politicians and, to be candid, it makes my hair stand up; I bristle badly at the accusation.

Yes, this nation has been involved in armed conflict that has sparked ferocious political debate here at home.

In my lifetime, I suppose you could go back to the Korean War, which began just five years after the Japanese surrendered to end World War II, arguably the nation’s last truly righteous war.

The fighting ended in Korea in 1953 but to this very moment, South and North Korea remain in a state of war; they only signed a cease-fire to stop the bloodshed.

Vietnam ratcheted the political debate to new levels, beginning around 1966. The Vietnam War did not end well for this country. We pulled our troops off the battlefield in early 1973, only to watch as North Vietnamese troops stormed into Saigon two years later, capturing the South Vietnamese capital city, renaming it after Ho Chi Minh and sending thousands of enemy sympathizers off to what they called “re-education camps.”

The Persian Gulf War was brief and proved to be successful. Then came 9/11 and we went to war again in Afghanistan and less than two years later in Iraq.

We have lost tens of thousands of young Americans in all those politically volatile conflicts since Korea. Yes, there have been accusations that those warriors “died in vain.”

They did not! They died while answering their nation’s call to duty. They might have been politically unpopular conflicts — but the orders that came down to our young citizens were lawful.

I will continue to resist mightily the notion that our heroic military personnel died in vain. I know better than that. I only wish the critics of public policy decisions that produce misery and heartache would cease defaming the heroism of those who died in defense of the principle that grants citizens the right to complain about our government.

I join my social media acquaintance in wishing away the need to commemorate Memorial Day. But we cannot … as long as young men and women answer their nation’s call to arms.

No war with Iran!

Donald John Trump continues to send astonishingly conflicting messages.

Back when he was running for president of the United States, Trump said he opposed sending U.S. troops into “useless” wars. He cited the Iraq War as Example No. 1 of a war that wasn’t worth the fight. I happen to agree with him.

Now here he is, two-plus years into his term and the president is threatening to go to war with Iran. What the hell?

Why is that? Iranian-backed Yemeni forces have been launching rocket attacks against Saudi shipping. They are threatening the flow of oil out of the region. Trump says Iran’s continuing provocation could prompt a devastating response from this country.

We have sent the USS Abraham Lincoln battle group into the Persian Gulf. We’re flexing our muscles. We’re telling the Iranians: Don’t mess up, here, or else you’re going to pay too drastic a price.

Trump made the correct call to end our involvement in these wars with no end. Now, though, he has surrounded himself with a cabal of uber-hawks — led by national security adviser John Bolton — who seem hell bent on going to war with the intention of overthrowing the ayatollahs who run the Islamic Republic of Iran.

I am not prone to insist that Trump rely on his own instincts, but on this matter, he should do exactly that.

However, Trump also says Iran shouldn’t have nuclear weapons. But wait! We had that treaty that aimed to end Iran’s nuclear development; then the president pulled us out. But . . . there are reports from other nations still involved in the agreement that suggest that Iran is actually complying with the conditions set forth by then-President Obama and then-Secretary of State John Kerry.

I’m baffled. Confused. Bumfuzzled.

Listen to that wiser angel whispering in your ear, Mr. President.

There he goes again: disparaging another beloved American

I am shaking my head yet again at something the president of the United States has said.

Donald Trump told the Washington Times that he understands why the late former first lady, Barbara Bush, disliked him so much. “Look what I did to her sons,” Trump said.

Yeah. Look at that.

It won’t happen, ever, but a tiny part of still wishes the president could exhibit the tiniest sense of public decency when responding to critics.

Mrs. Bush died this past year a few months before her husband, the 41st president, George H.W. Bush, passed away. She made her feelings known in a new book, “The Matriarch,” written by USA Today reporter Susan Page. She disliked Donald Trump. That, ladies and gents, is no secret.

As for Trump’s response, he denigrated Jeb Bush as “low-energy Jeb” while they competed for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Trump boasted to the Times that Jeb was supposed to win, but was eliminated early. Trump also was highly critical of President George W. Bush’s conduct of the Iraq War; I get that criticism, but then again he did use some inflammatory language to challenge the former president.

It’s not in Trump’s DNA to keep his trap shut. Or at least to offering akin to a statesmanlike acknowledgement that a beloved former first lady is entitled to her opinion.

Oh, no. He has to mock her.

Classless.

PR stunt? Of course it is! They all are!

Donald Trump canceled a trip overseas by Nancy Pelosi, contending that her visit to Afghanistan is a mere “public relations” event.

Wow! No sh**? Of course it was intended as a PR stunt. I mean, the speaker of the House wanted to visit with our troops who the commander in chief thrusts into harm’s way. She wanted to tell them the nation supports them and that despite the partial shutdown of the federal government that the politicians who run the government won’t let them down.

Sure it’s a PR event. However, there is inherint value in it.

It’s as much of a public relations production as the one that the president and first lady performed when they flew to Iraq right after Christmas. The president took selfies with troops, schmoozed with them, hugged their necks, told them he loved them. Then he and Melania flew back home to the chaos that awaited them.

Yeah, these trips are PR events. That’s what commanders in chief and other leading politicians do when they fly into combat zones.

I won’t get into the goofiness of Trump’s cancellation of the Pelosi venture, which looks for all the world to be a retaliatory strike in the wake of Pelosi’s request that Trump delay his scheduled Jan. 29 State of the Union speech before a joint congressional session.

However, for the president to say that the speaker of the House’s planned visit to our troops serves no useful purpose other than it being a PR stunt denies the obvious benefit it brings to the troops who get to see and talk directly to the politicians we elect to ostensibly “run the government.”

If only Trump were ‘good’ at lying; he isn’t

Donald Trump is setting some sort of unofficial record for lying, prevarication, misstatements muttered, uttered and sputtered from the White House.

One of his more recent, um, lies takes the cake.

The commander in chief stood before troops in Iraq the day after Christmas. He went to the war zone with his wife, Melania, and told the men and women assembled before him that they had just gotten the first pay raise in 10 years. Lie!

Then he said he fought for a 10-percent pay increase, even though others wanted to grant them a considerably smaller pay raise. Lie!

Our fighting personnel have gotten raises every year for more than three decades. As for the 10-percent raise this year, it didn’t happen. Their raise is considerably smaller than what the president described to them.

Here is what troubles me greatly: Donald Trump’s incessant barrage of falsehoods seems pointless, needless, foundationless. It is gratuitous. He lies when he doesn’t need to lie.

The Washington Post has been keeping track of the president’s lying/prevarication/misspeaking. The newspaper’s total now is past 7,500 such statements — and this is before the end of the first half of the president’s term! His lying is accelerating as well!

I should be more circumspect in calling these statements outright “lies.” To lie is to say something knowing it is false. Some critics have suggested that Trump simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about; therefore, he doesn’t necessarily purposely lie to our faces.

However, Donald Trump has told us repeatedly that he possesses a level of intelligence that few men have ever had. He knows the “best words.” He went to the “best schools.” He got the “best education.” He surrounds himself with the “best people.” Doesn’t all of that suggest to you — as it does to me — that the president should know of which he speaks when he opens his mouth?

The president is a liar. Now he’s gone before the men and women he purports to “love” and revere — our warriors in harm’s way — and lied to their faces!

Amazing.

We’re acting as ‘suckers,’ Mr. President?

Let me see if I can connect these dots.

Donald and Melania Trump jetted off early Wednesday to Iraq to visit with some of our troops there. It was the first visit by the president to a war zone since he took office in January 2017. Good show, Mr. President; I’m glad you went.

But then . . .

He declared that the United States was done being played as “suckers.” The president said this country wouldn’t be “suckered” any longer into defending other nations’ self-interest.

That was a bit of a head-scratcher for me. I cannot help but wonder what the troops in Iraq thought when they heard the commander in chief describe their hazardous duty as acting on behalf of a nation that had been “suckered” into sending men and women into harm’s way. Doesn’t that sound as though he is cheapening their work, that he is demeaning the danger they face?

I couldn’t help but think of how I might have felt in 1969 if President Nixon had come to Da Nang, South Vietnam, and told us that we had been duped into fighting a useless war. I cannot transport myself back to that time, but my gut tells me I well might have taken serious offense at such comments.

As for the current president, my belief is that the real “suckers” are those who believed they were getting a serious commander in chief when they voted for this guy in the first place.

Trumps do what first couples are supposed to do

It took longer than it should have taken, but it occurred quietly early today. Donald and Melania Trump flew to Iraq to visit U.S. troops and to offer them the nation’s support as they stand in harm’s way defending our interests in one of the world’s most troubled regions.

I won’t second-guess anyone here.

The president and first lady did what first couples — especially the president — are charged to do. They are supposed to speak on behalf of the nation to the men and women who stand on the front lines in the fight against our enemies.

I am glad the president and first lady visited Al Assad Air Base, west of Baghdad. Security apparently was an issue as Air Force One landed. The first couple took selfies with the troops, chatted them up and likely expressed their support for them.

The president should have gone before now. However, he went and perhaps learned a thing or two from the men and women he visited about some of the difficulties they face being stationed so far from home and away from their loved ones.

The presidency can be a learning experience, even if it isn’t supposed to provide on-the-job training for the president. I would hope the president learned something today, except that he routinely seems to suggest that knows all there is to know about everything.

Still, I’m glad he and the first lady made the journey.

Now, Mr. President, please look for a way to end this ridiculous government shutdown.

Bush 41 ended the Gulf War the correct way

I will now offer you my brief statement of support for the late  President George H.W. Bush’s decision to end the Persian Gulf War the way he did it.

They’re going to bury the former president later this week, but before they lay the great man to rest, let’s revisit one of the signature events of his presidency.

Iraqi dictator/madman Saddam Hussein sent his army into Kuwait in August 1990. He took control of the country. He seized the nation’s oil fields. President Bush was, naturally, quite alarmed. He summoned his national security team to the White House. They began plotting a strategy to respond.

He went to the United Nations. Bush then got on the phone and enlisted the support of 33 nations. He assembled an enormous international coalition.

The UN then approved a resolution authorizing and endorsing military action if the need arose. Bush and Secretary of State James Baker sought a diplomatic solution. They failed.

The massive force had gathered in the area near Kuwait and Iraq. They were ready. The UN resolution limited the mission to one element: get the Iraqis out of Kuwait.

The president gave the order. The aerial campaign started, pounding Iraqi defenses in Kuwait — and in Iraq.

The armored divisions breached the Kuwaiti frontier and within days the Iraqis were routed. They were on the run. Our fighter aircraft strafed the fleeing troops, killing thousands of them on the road to Baghdad.

Then the president called a halt to the fighting. We lost fewer than 200 American lives in the fight. The Iraqis were defeated.

But some critics at home — notably the “chicken hawks” who didn’t understand the consequences of war the way Bush 41, a World War II naval aviator did — wanted our forces to march all the way to the Iraqi capital. They wanted to capture Saddam Hussein, presuming he would surrender the way his troops did on the battlefield.

President Bush knew better. So did Defense Secretary Dick Cheney. Same for Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army Gen. Colin Powell, who saw combat during the Vietnam War. They knew what the UN mission allowed. They weren’t going to overstep their authority.

The end of the Gulf War delivered for a time a period of relative stability. Saddam Hussein — who never set foot outside of Iraq — was thoroughly contained after our forces destroyed his supposedly vaunted Republican Guard in Kuwait.

The containment wouldn’t last, tragically, after we invaded Iraq in March 2003 intent on removing Saddam Hussein.

However, there can be little doubt as we look back at the Persian Gulf War that we set forth on a specific mission. We accomplished it. We restored — yes, with mixed success — a sense of stability in a volatile region.

Taking the Gulf War fight all the way to Baghdad was a prescription for geopolitical disaster. I am grateful to this day that President George H.W. Bush reacted with reason, calm and with good judgment.