This time last year, the Marine Corps scrubbed its personnel rosters and found more than 66,000 leathernecks who had not yet done a tour in Iraq or Afghanistan. The top brass put them at the front of the line.
Now, the Army has followed suit. A servicewide check has determined that about 40 percent of the 515,000 active-duty soldiers have not yet set foot in a combat zone even as the wars stretch into their fifth and sixth years, and some troops have had to serve four or even five tours.
If the Supreme Court is as hermetically sealed from outside influence as many believe, then the recent carnage in Nebraska and Colorado will have no influence on its decision whether the Second Amendment gives individual Americans the right to bear whatever arms they choose or limits it to a collective right controlled by the state for the national defense.
The official ineptitude that has dogged our war effort in Iraq has spread to affect the fate of tens of thousands of Iraqi refugees, many in fear for their lives having worked for us, desperate for sanctuary in the United States.
We are obligated to help them. You can argue that the violence is Iraqi-on-Iraqi, but there wouldn’t be internecine violence if we hadn’t arrived and there would be less violence if we had arrived in the numbers our military planners recommended.
Michael Mukasey’s confirmation as U.S. attorney general became mired in his ambiguity over whether harsh interrogation techniques like waterboarding constituted torture. In the end, the former judge was confirmed but by the narrowest margin for his post in over 50 years.
Now, with just over two months on the job, the issue of waterboarding is back on his doorstep. So far, Mukasey is handling it better than he did the Senate.
The town of Granjeno is two miles north from the Rio Grande, separating Mexico and the United States. It is just two levees away and neighbors a bird and wild life refuge.
The historic town was founded a decade before the Declaration of Independence was signed. The cemetery bears testament to the town’s long history. People in the area with names like Anzaldua and de la Garza are living links to long-disappeared Spanish colonial land grants. Their pedigrees are as consequential as those of the Mayflower descendents.
We’ve known for a long time that the early 1950s was a nightmarish time in this country. It was the time of the arch-demagogue, Joe McCarthy. It was the time when the Cold War was at its coldest, a time when Americans confused dissent with disloyalty, when people were gripped with the fear that that alien doctrine of communism would infiltrate our open society and destroy us.
As America heads into a Presidential election year where Iraq is a central issue, mainstream media outlets plan massive cutbacks in war coverage and reductions in resources and personnel dedicated to reporting on the conflict.
Sources within both broadcast and print media organizations tell Capitol Hill Blue the Iraq war is now a “back burner” to primary election coverage and no longer worth the massive expenditures for coverage of the past three years.
“Americans are war weary,” says one media consultant. “The war doesn’t sell and this is a business.”
One can only hope that the holiday season brings good cheer to those who lost everything two years ago from the hurricanes Katrina and Rita, especially those who were at the mercy of charlatans who stole more than $500 million of government aid and the Lord only knows how much in relief funds donated by private citizens with big hearts and often small pocketbooks. That is $1 out of every $10 in government aid alone.
My list of my top 10 foreign policy wishes for 2008 is presented in reverse order of urgency:
10. Continued frustration for Hugo Chavez.
His presidency-for-life derailed by voters smart enough to see the writing on the wall, Chavez will become more nakedly aggressive in his quest for oil-fueled dictatorship. Meanwhile, Venezuela’s oil production drops for lack of foreign investment just as all eyes turn to Brazil’s substantial offshore oil discovery.
9. Less hyperbole on global warming.
The assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has dealt a severe blow to U.S. efforts to restore stability and democracy in a turbulent, nuclear-armed Islamic nation that has been a critical ally in the war on terror.
While not entirely dependent on Bhutto, recent Bush administration policy on Pakistan had focused heavily on promoting reconciliation between the secular opposition leader who has been dogged by corruption allegations and Pakistan’s increasingly unpopular president, Pervez Musharraf, ahead of parliamentary elections set for January.