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3:51 am EST        56°F (13°C) in Shelby, IA

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It may seem as though the weather is going to be great, what with such a warm temperature just before 3:00 am local time (CST around here), but this is the calm before the storm. It’s supposed to get pretty nasty as I head west to North Platte, NE, for a delivery appointment late this upcoming evening; namely, I may see some freezing rain and a fair bit of snow across the Cornhusker State this afternoon.

Recently, I ran across a post in a blog maintained by an 18-year-old young man from Pennsylvania who is a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. Although he deleted the post before I had a chance to link to it — I have to assume not knowing that I was planning to use it as inspiration for an update here, since I haven’t seen any black helicopters hovering around lately wink — I did want to take on the (in my opinion, fallacious) argument he put forth in regards to the “war” in Iraq.

As I said, I obviously don’t have the original post in this young man’s blog at my disposal any longer, so I’m going to have to do the best job I can of reconstructing his post from memory. Basically, he started out with the typical rants made by the wrong-wing chicken-hawks like Dick “5 Deferments” Cheney, O’Lie-lly, Insannity, OxyContin Limpbutt, and their ilk, claiming that the so-called “radical anti-war leftists” are “destroying troop morale” by having the guts to stand up for the silent 60% of Americans who see this “war” for the farce it is. He then went on to point out how he is the third consecutive generation of his family to serve in the armed forces, and made the claim that simply because he is in the military (in spite of the fact that he is currently back at home in Pennsylvania, on the mend from a broken collarbone suffered at USAFA), that he is automatically more qualified to speak out on the subject of Iraq than even well-informed civilians.

That said, I have decided to make a response in the form of an “open letter” that is specifically directed at this young man’s blog post, yet is also applicable to all of our troops — no matter where or in what capacity they might be serving. At some points, “you” will refer specifically to the young man in question; at other points, I will use it in the plural sense, so be mindful of the context.

*          *          *

Those of us who are opposed to this “war” have numerous and sundry reasons for taking the position we do, but a desire to harm our troops is most certainly not among these. I obviously can only speak for myself, but I am willing to bet that millions of people share the sentiment of the deepest appreciation for what you are willing to do, really, for the rest of us — that is, as you put it in your blog, to make even the ultimate self-sacrifice for your country and its people. I do not doubt that this takes a special kind of courage that few possess, and it is quite possibly the single most admirable character trait in all of humanity. I have nothing but the highest respect and honor for the fortitude of character you must possess to be willing to lay even your own life on the line.

At the same time, the last thing I want is to see any of you die, if it can at all be avoided. The last thing I want to see happen is you dying because you were sent into harm’s way without the armor needed to protect the Humvees in which you travel. The last thing I want to see happen is you dying because your highest-level commanders in the Pentagon and White House sent you over there with absolutely no plan to prevent the situation from devolving into total chaos. I sure as hell don’t want to see any of you losing your lives because you were sent over there based on carefully manipulated “intelligence” that has since been revealed to be a complete pack of lies. It drives me up a wall that you’re still over there being shot at largely because the political party currently in power here is reeling from its scandals and crimes and is using you as a PR tool to deflect attention from its own issues — as long as they smile and say “support the troops” to the cameras, the ignorant, mindless Republican base thinks nothing of DeLay’s crimes and Cheney’s treason.

Your instinct of self-sacrifice is, in and of itself, the most noble and honorable thing any human being can do. If you must give up your life in the service of your countrymen and women, though, I want it to happen for a cause that is noble, honorable, and just, and I want to know that every reasonable measure was taken to try to protect you during your service. I would sooner keep you on base with little or nothing to do than send you into a war zone with unarmored Humvees, or mis-use you in any action that has absolutely nothing to do with the stated reason you’re over there.

(That is, if you were really being used to prosecute a war on terror, you would be combing every inch of Afghani and Pakistani mountains and caves day and night until you found Osama bin Laden, rather than carrying out a political and personal vendetta in a country that had zippo to do with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Not that you have any say in the matter — I am well aware that you are required to follow the orders of your higher-ranking commanding officers under penalty of imprisonment or court-martial — but the point is that your “commanding officers” at the very highest levels are not making proper use of you and your courage and skills.)

(Aside: It seems fairly obvious that this mis-administration was at the very least complicit in 9/11, given all the facts that have come out about controlled explosions in 1 and 2 WTC well below the floors hit by the airplanes, the flights of some Saudis out of the country after the airspace was closed, and the ignorance of the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing, but that’s another argument for another time.)

It is not I, nor any of my fellow progressive Americans who oppose this “war” of choice, who disrespect or dishonor you, our fine troops who make up the greatest military force on earth. To the contrary, in fact, we have nothing but the greatest respect for your noble, courageous willingness to defend our country against threats both foreign and domestic. It is the traitors, oil-company robber barons, and other assorted fraudsters, criminals, and un-American lunatics who cut funding that would buy equipment to better protect you in war so that they can give tax cuts to their multi-millionaire political benefactors who see you as contemptible, “dime-a-dozen” tools. It is a presidential administration and a Republican-controlled Congress who completely fabricated the reasons for putting you in harm’s way, with absolutely no regard for the exhaustively researched facts on the ground, who disrespect and dishonor you.

The more of you who die over there, the better it is for them — it works to their political advantage. They use your deaths as justification for their deviant, sinful, war-mongering behavior — the more you lose your lives, the more they simply entrench themselves further in their “stay the course” mentality. When some among you have spoken out, telling the truth about what is really happening over there, this mis-administration has exacted swift, severe retribution in the form of rank demotions and courts-martial, as seen in the cases of Janice Karpinski and Paul Rieckhoff among scores of others. Do you honestly think that this president and these members of Congress have anything but nose-in-the-air contempt for you? For that matter, do you honestly think there is any honor in following their orders to torture innocent Iraqi civilians? You are sadly mistaken if you do.

Just because we oppose this illegal “war” of choice being waged by the neo-cons does not mean that we hate, oppose, or refuse to support you. Collectively, you are the bravest and best armed forces in the world. What (and who) we oppose and refuse to support is those who so callously and contemptuously mis-use you hoping for their own partisan political gain. You are very simply doing your job, a job you have no choice but to do given the structure of our military; it is not you who are evil, but rather the job itself and the war criminals in Washington who order you to do it. In all honesty, I have had about enough of being accused of being anti-American, anti-troop, and unpatriotic, and this “letter” to you should settle that once and for all.

*          *          *

Well, that’s about it for tonight. Let’s cross our fingers that I won’t end up somewhere in a ditch in the snowstorm that is expected tonight.