Thursday, February 22, 2007

Who Supports The Troops?

Democrats and antiwar activist have often been accused not only of being unpatriotic but also of failing to support the troops serving in Iraq and Afganistan.

But the real failure to support the troops comes in the form of neglect of troops who have served their country and come home maimed or psychologically damaged.

Over the weekend Washington Post revealed that "Soldiers Face Neglect, Frustration At Army's Top Medical Facility"

Key points from the article include :

- Recovering soldiers living in poor conditions, including rodent and cockroach infestation, rotting floors and bathrooms and rooms with deadly black mold growing in them.

- Seventy-five percent of the troops polled by Walter Reed last March said their experience was "stressful."

- Poor care of patients who are often left on their own, in some cases forgotten about. Wounded managing the wounded, those with psychological trauma counseling others with psychological trauma.

- Inexcusable mismanagement such as case workers who don't know where their patients are, and patients not knowing where their case workers are.

- Soldiers with brain injuries sit waiting for weeks with no appointments or help from the staff, some for longer and some, frustrated, just left for home, without the notice of their caretakers.

- The disappearance of necessary forms and records, sometimes the Army has no record that a soldier ever even served in Iraq.

All of this happened about six miles away from the "beautiful White House", where President Bush had said it was hard for him to access if Iraq was in a civil war or not.

But what is more revealing are the statements the President has made about the specific facility in question.

On March 19, 2004 "Every time I come to Walter Reed, it confirms that which I know, which is we're providing the very best -- the best care, the best compassion."

The President had proclaimed this, during a time when the non profit group Disabled American Veterans was blocked from meeting with patients at the facility.

As recently as the 2007 State of the Union address the President asked Americans "to support our troops in the field, and those on their way." Curiously absent was a call for support soldiers who have already sacrificed themselves and need medical and psychological treatment.

However, the point is, anyone who has been paying attention knows that Bush and the Republicans have brandished their "support of the troops" mantra like a weapon against Democrats and antiwar activist while only six miles away from the residence of George W. Bush soldiers who sacrificed themselves for their effort in the War on Terror languish.

So the rush is on to make repairs to the buildings in question. The White House seems "appropriately outraged" but no one is fist to the podium outraged about something so...outrageous.

While the repairs appear to be in the process of being made no one is really questioning how the conditions were allowed to deteriorate so badly in the first place, and no one, including the television media is asking how the bureaucratic tangle and poor outpatient care is going to be resolved.

Supporting the troops doesn't just mean putting a yellow ribbon sticker on your car and denouncing the terrorist and supporting the Iraq War.

Supporting the troops includes providing adequate care for them after they have sacrificed for their country - not treating them like children and forcing formation on injured men, not shoving them in a rotting building where they disappear under care that would not even be acceptable in a hospice, let alone a facility for injured soldiers in this "glorious" War on Terror.

It's an outrage, and whether or not the problem is now being fixed is not the point. The point is that the conditions should have never been allowed to exist in the first place.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

United States Won't Call Ahmadinejad's Bluff

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday offered to shut down it's nuclear facilities, if the United States agreed to do the same.

"If they say that we should close down our fuel production facilities to resume talks, we say fine, but those who enter talks with us should also close down their nuclear fuel production facilities." Ahmadinejad stated on state run television.

When asked about Iran's offer White House Press Secretary Tony Snow responded "Do you believe that's a serious offer?" according to Reuters India.

In the war of rhetoric between Bush and Ahmadinejad tensions have been rising, and to answer Tony Snow - no, I don't think Ahmadinejad is serious because he knows the United States will never shut down it's nuclear facilities and this fact does not escape the Iranian President.

What Ahmadinejad suggestion seems to indicate is that he believes his nuclear program is as legitimate as the United States and that he is as likely to abandon his nuclear aspirations as the US is.

This news comes as CNN reports that for several months Iranian boats have increasingly crossed into Iraqi waters but "the United States does not see the Iranian moves as aggressive or provocative. The assessment is that the probes are part of an Iranian effort to raise its military presence in the gulf."