Saturday, June 9, 2012

"The Buck Stops" - Where?

The Guardian and other publications are reporting that the American armed forces suicide rate has skyrocketed to a shocking 10-year high with self-inflicted death now occurring among troops at about one per day. That figure is quite staggering but shouldn't come as too much of a surprise given the current deployment status for many of these brave men and women shouldering the responsibility they have endured now for over a decade.

This protracted war in Iraq and Afghanistan has gone on longer than any previous conflict in modern American history. The United States was engaged in battle during World War I for two years. World War II lasted four years. The Korean War was also four years. The Vietnam War lasted a decade and was until this recent debacle the longest lasting war.

Suicide rates have always been higher among our troops particularly during wartime, but these newest figures have launched the case to abhorrently staggering numbers that simply cannot and should not be justified or tolerated by this Congress, this President or the American people.

There once was a Commander and Chief, during World War II, by the name of Harry S. Truman. He was a Democrat, a bulldog of a fighter and man of principal. He once stated that as Commander and Chief the buck stopped at the desk of the President of the United States, his desk at the time. Every President since his time has heeded those words of admonishment, even a thug like Richard Nixon held those words sacred as it pertained to his duty as the man ultimately responsible for the lives of our fighting men and women. Today I am concerned that the current resident of the White House hasn't a clue what those words of Truman mean or what it is to be responsible for these service personnel.

What started with George W. Bush, another President who seemed to feel the pain of our fighters but lacked the ability or wherewithal to know when to cut bait and run, has continued now for another four years under the misguided leadership of President Barack Obama.

As a veteran of one war I have come to believe, based solely on this President's actions (not his words), that he doesn't give one wit about the lives of our service men and women. He talks a good game but does little to actually put those words into meaningful action. All his decisions as it relates to militarism appear to be made purely on the basis of the current or perceived future direction of the political winds and not on what will best achieve ultimate victory or a withdrawal that grants our military a modicum of respect and integrity in the eyes of those they have been laying down their lives for. He seems to be more concerned with his personal image in the eyes of world leaders and his political base than in doing the hard and right thing - which is either stand down and bring our troops home from both arenas as soon as possible (without declaring it in advance to the world press and making it a political showboat) or, and this is the hard stand he and former Presidents have been unable or unwilling to do, bring back the draft to allow an increase in armed forces numbers allowing those who have been deployed over and over again in these highly dangerous combat zones to come home to their families and friends to go on with their lives and private sector jobs.

Will President Obama do either of these two apparent things? Highly doubtful. If reelected he will continue to allow the situation to go on, continue to build down the strength of our military worldwide and we at home will continue to watch these suicide numbers climb higher and higher as each day passes feeling less and less secure.

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