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The Bangor Daily News (Maine)

In This Mission Impossible, Politics Kills Soldiers

Carole Whelan

The Maine Chapter of Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) has been providing DVDs and articles to members of Congress to help them understand our increasing concerns about the safety and mission of our soldiers.

Two of the articles are by Gen. William Odom: "Why America Must Get out of Iraq Now" and "Victory is not an Option." Gen. Odom was head of Army intelligence and director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan. Everyone who wants to understand what is at risk should read these articles.

The present commander in Iraq, Gen. Petraeus, recently said there is no military solution in Iraq. A political solution may someday be possible, but it is too late for what he says is the primary task of any counter-insurgency: Ensuring the security and well-being of the civilian population. The most recent poll showed 78 percent of Iraqis want the U.S. out and are in favor of targeting U.S. troops, who are seen as occupiers. Two million Iraqis are refugees, and almost that many are displaced within Iraq.

The president promised almost two years ago that "when the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down," but the Iraq Study Group reported that, in spite of the billions spent, there was never any provision to adequately fund training an Iraqi army. More recently, it has been revealed that Saudi Arabia, home of Osama Bin Laden, is funneling funds to terrorists — fellow Sunnis — to increase ethnic violence against Shiites, and that the U.S. administration promoted this!

The recycling of troops back into combat, the high rate of post traumatic stress disorder, serious combat injuries, and the neglect in treating them, demonstrate that the needs of our military personnel are not being properly considered before, during or after their service. The military has reached the breaking point in manpower and equipment. Add to this the growing revelations of mismanagement, fraud and war profiteering and it is easy to understand that the supplemental funding does not "support the troops".

The funding has most benefited the weapons industry, whose CEO income has skyrocketed to an average of over $7 million per year! The value of Cheney's Halliburton stock options has not merely doubled or tripled but multiplied by a factor of 32! We ask Congress, and every American, why should anyone get rich off the blood of our soldiers?

A U.S. Marine Corps maxim is "Never reinforce failure." It is a betrayal of our military to demand further sacrifice while condemning them to planned failure! So why is Congress still funding this disaster instead of showing leadership?

Rep. Tom Allen announced his intention to approve more war funding, once again failing to back up his claim to be "against the war." The funding issues a blank check, with no accountability. More ominously, an amendment requiring the president to consult Congress before making war against Iran was removed.

Democrats call it "Bush's war", but it never could have happened without the consent of Congress, and they will own it lock, stock and gun barrel with the passage of another funding bill. Both Republicans and Democrats have shown higher loyalty to their parties than anything else, and so, it is politics that kills our soldiers! It's past time for Congress to show some of the courage they blithely demand of our troops.

Gen. Odom says it is already too late for some 2008 presidential candidate to retrieve the situation. "If Congress cannot act, it, too, will live in infamy. Will they continue to fund the occupation and profiteering instead of the safe withdrawal of our troops? We urge our senators to truly support our troops by refusing to fund a mission that has never been defined, never been justified and so, cannot be accomplished.

Not one more day, not one more dollar. Bring them home now and take care of them.

Carole Whelan is the Maine state coordinator of the Maine Chapter of Military Families Speak Out.

© 2007 The Bangor Daily News

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