Today, Friday 21 October 2011, the President announced that all troops in Iraq would be home by Christmas of this year. That’s right, the war in Iraq is finally over and the gang will be home in 2 months.
You will most likely hear every pundit, analyst, and politician, including the President, talk about Iraq in terms of the war President Bush started in 2003. My friends the United States Air Force went to war in the Middle East in 1990 and has never returned. Except for the 6 months I spent at basic training and technical school the Air Force has been at war for the balance of my 22yr career. Finally by years end they’ll be home.
When I moved to Knoxville in December of 1999 I left behind a unit that has since gone to the Middle East several times. The 177th Fighter Wing has been participating in the war in Iraq for 21 years in some form or another. Yes, 21 years. First individual unit members volunteered to go over, then the 177th back filled other units and then finally they began pulling duty in the dessert.
In a lot of ways, most ways, I was extremely fortunate to miss all of that. I was never separated from my family, never had to carry a weapon. I had moved on to the NCO Academy in Knoxville to teach long before the 177th started to deploy to the Middle East. In one way though I missed out on serving with some of the finest, most professional people I know in the most serious situation imaginable. That unit raised me. I was a punk kid when I got there in June of 1989. I owe them a lot.
So to the gang from Jersey, the Jersey Devils, I say well done fellas, Blue Skies, and thank you for everything.
To the President of the United States I say – Shame on you, Sir. Sometimes very smart people do very stupid things. This is your stupid things moment Mr. President. You took a moment that did not, does not belong to you and turned it into campaign fodder.
While you ultimately made the decision to bring the troops home, finally, it was not to fulfill a campaign promise by any stretch of the imagination. Yet you stood there today and told all of us how you promised to do this back in 08 and now had delivered. It would have been more honest just to call us all toothless morons.
Even the most cub reporter knows that you decided to pull the troops out now because the Iraqi government would not agree to terms required to keep U.S. Forces in Iraq. So in other words had Prime Minister Maliki agreed to the terms the U.S. Forces would still be in Iraq and be there for some time to come; well past the holidays and well beyond your campaign promise in 2008.
For the want of the ability to yet again close a deal you get to “claim” a campaign promised fulfilled. What you really did was insult the intelligence of all of us in the general population and steal the initial moment of victory and celebration from the people who earned it, those still living and those who left part or all of themselves on battle field.
It was clear on your face as you read that statement that you felt dirty for even saying it. Your embarrassed facial expression when you said “As a candidate I promised to …” was possibly the only honest part of that entire press conference. You’re better than that. You know better than that. No offense to my Army and Navy brethren but Sir you are the Commander-in-Chief of the greatest Air Force in the entirety of human history – be better than that.