We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it. . . .Declaration of Independence
Adopted by Congress, July 4, 1776
We have the right. We have the duty. Thomas Jefferson said so.
Last fall, politicians witnessed the desire of the people and Congress was “altered.” Now we, the American people, are seeing the will of the Congress. The human catastrophe that is Iraq has been reduced by our representatives to linguistic quibbles, fanny positioning for the next election, empty and empty-headed resolutions, and a stunning disregard for the desires of the majority of Americans. And they had the time and gall to blame the generals for the execution of the war. Congress had to wait for Rumsfeld to get euthanized before gumption set in. Then, instead of impeaching Bush, they skewered the military, the people who must always say, Thank you sir/madam! Serving proudly!
Who does this Congress work for?
The executive branch continued its arrogant doubletalk. The ship of state has foundered in Iraq. Full speed ahead! said the babbling Bush, who took two months to come up with a so-called plan, fired some generals, then proposed a banal, but poetic, “surge” of troops. (Who makes up these offensive euphemisms?) This surge has been reduced to a series of gradual ascending pulsations, or perhaps intermittent, yet ever upward, mini-exacerbations, intended to crest midyear. Or so the current babble seems to indicate. Of course, the surge is a phony, a shell game. There are really no fresh troops going in, only tired, demoralized vets who have been there, and many of them more that once. The most powerful army in the world is being destroyed.
Who is this Bush working for?
Meanwhile, Baghdad continues its blood-ridden death rattle. An admiral is in charge of Iraq operations now, perhaps to be nearer his warships in the Strait of Hormuz. And a new army general has been appointed to supervise the “surge.” His former assignment was to train the Iraqi army. Obviously he didn’t have time to finish THAT job. But to help him surge on to victory or “finish the (another) job,” he has built an officer-staff of whiz-kid PhDs, just like himself. If this war had anything to do with brains, we wouldn’t have started it. But there is a nostalgic touch here, frighteningly redolent of McNamara‘s band and Vietnam.
So what, you may ask? This is what. The United States Army is broken. How do we know? The US Army tells us so. Please keep up the great work, says the senior field grade officer in Iraq, now on his second tour. You speak for many of us on active duty, says another. Do something, please, says the parent of a young West Point graduate on active duty in Afghanistan. These people trust us, and we them. Simply put, chaos reigns, morale is lousy, and the troops are fed up. As we told one congressman recently about the plight of an active duty graduate, “When a West Point graduate says ‘I don’t know what to do,’ we, as a nation, are in trouble.”
We have written to Congress, to no avail. We have visited our representatives, to no avail. We have encouraged the new Speaker of the House to impeach the President of the United States, to no avail, and with no response. Our organization has hundreds of West Point and other service academy graduate members. Despite governmental restrictions on political involvement, some of them are on active duty, many with multiple tours of combat duty. They speak from an experience no one, repeat, NO ONE, in government has had. They tell us that our organization and its principles speak for them. We all once swore an oath “to support and defend the Constitution of The United States, against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Though many of us are no longer on active duty, we still bear faith and allegiance to that same oath, as well as to our fellow graduates now actively serving. Indeed, this is a bond that will neither break nor be broken. So speak and write we do. Yet the people we speak to in government seem not to care. They publicly beat their breasts crying SUPPORT THE TROOPS! but it only means billions for defense contracts, not one cent in respect.
Despite Cheney’s hallucinations, this war, fatally flawed morally, legally, and strategically, has been a colossal blunder. So we say again to our armchair war makers in Congress, get our troops, our men and women, out of Iraq, NOW. The war, deceitfully launched by George W. Bush with Congressional approval, has destroyed the reputation and honor of our country, and has severely abused and damaged the United States Army. Such crimes and misdemeanors are grievous. There is a lengthening list of abuses and usurpations that Bush and his government fall heir to. Abasement of the country. Abrogation of the Constitution. Destruction of the army. Clearly this government has been, and remains, destructive to the ends intended by our founding fathers. On issues vital to the survival of our military, our youth, and the honor of our nation, the majority of Americans now stand unrepresented and reduced by the President of the United States and the Congress. Is it not time that we heed the words of Thomas Jefferson and remember, and claim, OUR rights? And then do OUR duty?
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.Declaration of Independence
Adopted by Congress, July 4, 1776
Do not we, all of us, have a duty to rise and speak against such a government as ours and all its members? To say — Abolish this war now or, as Thomas Jefferson affirmed, we will abolish you.
James Ryan, a1962 graduate of the United States Military Academy, is co-founder of West Point Graduates Against The War (westpointgradsagainstthewar.org/) and Service Academy Graduates Against The War (sagaw.org/).