Thursday, March 01, 2007

It's All About ME, John Murtha

From time to time on my blog (and not nearly often enough), I get a little cranky about some insipid Op/Ed piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette written by either a guest columnist or by the paper's editorial staff. Today's guest editorial is entitled "Our Muddled Military" and is written by someone with the initials JPM. Guess who?
Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified on Tuesday to the Senate Appropriations Committee that my plan to restore military readiness in order to meet current and future threats and to require the Pentagon to uphold its own guidelines, standards and policies would somehow be damaging on the battlefield.
Pay close attention to Murtha's use of first person pronouns. You're going to see a lot of it. (It reminds one of the old SNL line "Me, Al Franken", repeated ad nauseum during one of Franken's desk routines.) He's getting close to being a man alone, increasingly shunned not only by Republicans who once considered him a trusted colleague, but by members of his own party. He can get away with mouthing off as long as he remains in Nancy Pelosi's good graces, though.
Gen. Pace himself recently issued a report to Congress that said because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a significant risk that our military wouldn't be able to quickly and fully respond to another crisis. Two weeks ago, Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, said the president's surge in combat troops in Iraq will further erode the Army's ability to respond to other incidents around the world.
"Our military"? I know of a Marine veteran (Korean War era) who likes to say that there are only two ex-Marines, Lee Harvey Oswald and John Murtha.
Gen. Pace also indicated that if he were forced to adhere to established Defense Department readiness standards, one-third of units currently programmed for Iraq could not be deployed. This statement is alarming. Is Gen. Pace saying that he is willing to accept that in the near future one-third of the total military force in Iraq will not be fully manned, fully trained or fully equipped?
Well, the way you put it, yeah, it does. But you don't speak for the General, and certainly not for the Commander-In-Chief. I rather doubt that we would send that theoretical one-third into a war zone when and if it comes down to it. Tone down the rhetoric, dude.
Gen. Pace is trying to shift the blame, when in fact it is this administration's polices that are hurting our military.
There goes Murtha talking about "our military" again. Is he referring to Baath party insurgents? Al-Qaeda terrorists? Iranian "advisers" sneaking across the border to kill Americans? Who does he mean?

Get ready now for a big poke in the "I":

Let's revisit history. On Nov. 17, 2005, I said that the failed war policies of this administration were destroying the future of our military. I said that our military is stretched thin, that the war in Iraq is resulting in significant shortfalls at our bases in the United States and that we must rebuild our Army. I knew then that the war policies of this administration were unsustainable and that our military preparedness and strategic reserve would suffer.

After visiting Iraq in 2003, I was the one who found severe shortages in body armor and shortages in armor and spare parts for our military vehicles. I worked with my colleagues to fix these problems. Since the start of this war, Congress has provided an additional $145 billion for essential war fighting and life sustaining items which the president did not ask for but which were needed. Congress also provided funding for 30,000 extra troops as a "temporary increase in end strength" because our military asked for it.

Clearly, John Murtha fancies himself to be a sort of shadow Commander-In-Chief, and one with superhuman abilities. Please note: references to Congress as "my colleagues" pertain to the pre-2007 Republican majority Congress. Not that Murtha would dare let that bit of information slip in.
At the beginning of the Iraq war, 80 percent of all Army units and almost 100 percent of active combat units were rated at the highest levels of readiness. Just the opposite is true today. Virtually all of our active-duty combat units at home and all of our guard units are at the lowest level of readiness.
There's a war going on, so you expect readiness levels to go down. The best way to shore up the military would be aggressive enlistment campaigns, or if you really get desperate, conscription. The draft is too controversial, and the war too politicized, for conscription to be seriously considered at this time. Frankly, I prefer an all-volunteer military. Save talk of a draft for when the homeland is under immediate military threat.
My plan calls for the restoration of our military readiness to what it was before the war in Iraq. For the health and well-being of our military forces, I am requiring the Pentagon to uphold its own deployment and rotation guidelines that have been in existence for years.

The intense strain that this administration's policies have placed on our service members is the problem. I am trying to fix what this administration has broken.

It may be a plan -- excuse me, HIS plan -- but it's just a plan, a proposal at this point, nothing more. Not that it requires Congressional or Executive approval. When Murtha says that he is requiring something, everybody else just better bend down and listen! Remember, he's the guy in whose chair no one else may sit upon pain of who-knows-what.

All hail the demi-god who writes his own doxology:
The intense strain that this administration's policies have placed on our service members is the problem. I am trying to fix what this administration has broken.
Can we get an "Amen!", brother? I knew we couldn't. Murtha won't let up until he can start calling the military establishment "our Pentagon" and the sitting president "my administration". "This administration" is a clever rhetorical device that makes mention of the sitting president's name seem like some kind of cuss word.

I have two words for you, Mr. Murtha: PRESIDENT BUSH!

(For a balancing viewpoint that brings up what guest columnist Murtha failed to mention in his piece, check out the first letter in the same edition's Letters to the Editors.)