Jack Kelly’s column on Sunday was about words, how Obama does not sound bellicose enough to suit Kelly’s tastes. Frank Herbert today writes about consequences of actions, specifically the toll taken on those individuals (and their children) who are actually fighting the war in Afghanistan. Fewer than one percent of Americans are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, for tour after tour. It is wrecking the military we have, and yet the vast majority of us are home, grousing about the price of gas and the Stillers if we are lucky, worrying about our jobs or healthcare if we are not (although we are still luckier than the troops).
I have a bumper sticker, it says “Support the Troops” and has the numerals “55” inside a green circle (in smaller letters below it says www.drive55.org). If you haven’t guessed, it is advocating that we support the troops by driving at fifty five miles per hour, coincidentally the speed limit on most of the highways I drive. I got it as a smart ass semi-subversive kind of thing, a sort of you can’t honk at me because I am blocking you, I am being patriotic thing. But after reading Herbert’s column, I am thinking that in fact we ought to be serious about making some sacrifice(s) as a nation for the troops, beyond allowing the government to borrow from the Chinese to pay for the war.
Jack Kelly actually had the gall to compare Obama negatively to George W Bush in terms of expressing resolve for fighting in Afghanistan. We have seen the actual limits and effects of George W Bush’s resolve. We largely failed to win in either Iraq or Afghanistan, but we did manage to wreck both countries (which granted were not in great shape to start with), squandered the goodwill of the rest of the world after 9/11 and threw away a trillion dollars. Even if you link only Obama and not Congress (both parties and their roles in shaping it) to the stimulus and the automaker bailout, even if you ignore the Wall Street bailout, even if you say the stimulus has failed, do we say we owe nothing to the soldiers still fighting on our behalf in Afghanistan and Iraq? Is it only a magnetic plastic ribbon we owe them? Could we find it in our hearts to slow down, to save oil (domestic and foreign) and save lives (our own) and just make sure we leave a little earlier? Especially (especially) if you just had to buy that pickup or SUV, by slowing down to 55 you save much more gas, percentagewise, than that environmentally conscious lawyer yuppie type in his or her Prius.
Or we could demand our Congress-persons support a draft, and we could all take the risk or (in the case of people my age, risk all our children). Or, if we were really serious, we could do both.