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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

 
When The Troops Come Home And Not before

by digby

There has been quite a debate in blogging circles about the "amnesty for insurgents" bill that was defeated in the Senate yesterday and I'm a little surprised that there is even a discussion about it. As you probably know, the administration has been supportive of an idea by the fragile Iraqi government to give amnesty to killers of American troops in exchange for their laying down their weapons. A lot of people think this is a good idea.

I don't. I really, really don't. Amnesty is something you grant when hostilities are over as part of a settlement. Until troops are off the ground, or a very serious cease fire has been called at the least, the mere idea of this is just nuts in my book.

Our troops are sitting ducks over there as it is. Many are slowly losing their minds, as this stunning post by Arthur Silber illustrates. The war is ill-defined and unwinnable. And yet they remain in grave danger with many, many thousands of them maimed or killed for reasons that we all know are spurious. It's cruel to do this to them on top of all that.

Alternet printed a letter today from a soldier serving in Iraq who makes a very eloquent argument, from his perspective, as to why this is wrong:

I am one of the soldiers that these proposals are dishonoring.

Did any of these men ever serve??? Have to go through memorial service after memorial service day after day for comrades they knew and loved???

Have they had to live in fear every moment of every unchanging, horrible day, waiting for a never-seen rocket or a mortar to kill them--or worse, kill those to whom they are close???

Have they bore body armor in 120 degree heat in the face of an unrecognizable enemy, one who uses terrified civilians as shields?

Have they seen the remains of tanks, HMMWVs, BODIES!!! that were rent asunder by invisible bombs, planted by fanatical zealots???

Have they truly seen the shatter[ed] lives of Iraqis, these lives broken by the very people they propose to grant amnesty?

Have they had to pull the trigger with the aim of killing another human being, someone you have never met or seen before, never knowing if the target was truly an enemy?

Do these gentlemen wrestle at night with the nightmares of guilt and second-guessing?

Every IED that injures or kills an American soldier exacerbates the normal soldiers' attitude toward those who he is sent to help and protect. Every sniper shot hardens our hearts.

Propose accolades for those who have lived through this hell, not for those who have opposed them in the shadows, in the dark.

When an insurgent--a terrorist--an enemy combatant--call them what you will--strikes at an American, he attacks Iraq.

When these "right, honorable" gentlemen realize that we are in a war we should have never entered--one where our very presence provokes and increases the enemy's resolve and recruitment--perhaps then I will consider their words.

But until then, tell these paper warriors to go to Walter Reed, to Landstuhl, to Sam Houston and face the soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen whose lives have been drastically altered or ended.

Tell them to face the families of the fallen and propose their accolades to our foes.

Instead of resolutions that honor those who are trying to kill us, these senators, these congressmen should devote their efforts, their words, their very lives to try and figure out how we can extricate ourselves from this war.

Perhaps then they can look themselves in the eye and admit Iraq was a mistake and commit all our energies to saving American lives, instead of worrying about mollifying our enemies' rage.

Sean Frerking, a soldier serving in Iraq


There's a lot there that I might not feel comfortable with as a civilian living in a nice safe environment in california. But I get where this guy must be coming from. And I appreciate his ability to see the bigger picture.

19 Senators voted for this amnesty yesterday. All Republicans. No Democrats. Those are the "right and honorable" men to whom this soldier is referring. And they aren't just any Republicans. They are the leading national figures of the party, including John McCain.

The fact is that we are not leaving Iraq until 2009, at the earliest. Bush has said it, he means it, he will not be the man who "lost Iraq." Until American troops are off the ground --- or at least a cease fire is in effect --- amnesty makes little sense. It rewards killings of the past and prevents none in the future. Amnesty is a valuable card you play as part of a comprehensive settlement. Bush is simply trying to prop up the rickity Iraqi government and like all the rest of his ploys to save face and assert his authority, it comes at the expense of the military.

We should take that soldier's argument and ram it down the Republican party's throats. Here we had a day when two poor American schmucks were just found tortured and killed. We have no moral authority left with which to even condemn the torture --- after all, we've made torture cool again. And yet 19 Republican senators voted for amnesty for their killers. I ask you to contemplate what the Republicans would do to us if the shoe were reversed --- regardless of the merits. You don't have to think very long do you?

Politically, this should have been Dubai all over again, a media firestorm, forcing the Republican rank and file to see what was being done in their name. Rove is going to run on the patriot card again, calling us cowards for wantin' to cun 'n run, and here they are proposing to forgive the killers of 2500 Americans while we still have 140,000 more of them sitting over there like sitting ducks for no good reason. We should hang this around the Republican Party's neck and light it afire.


Here's the list of the Amnesty 19.


Wayne Allard of Colorado Kit Bond of Missouri Jim Bunning of Kentucky Conrad Burns of Montana Tom Coburn of Oklahoma Thad Cochran of Mississippi John Cornyn of Texas Jim DeMint of South Carolina Mike Enzi of Wyoming Lindsey Graham of South Carolina Chuck Hagel of Nebraska Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma Jon Kyl (R-AZ) Trent Lott of Mississippi John McCain of Arizona Jeff Sessions of Alabama Ted Stevens of Alaska Craig Thomas of Wyoming John Warner of Virginia



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