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When Will Grandpa Come Home?
June 1, 2004
By Richard A. Stitt

While getting my morning news updates I read this headline in a Scripps Howard News Service release:

U.S. troop deaths in Iraq reach 800

...The oldest soldier to die so far in the war suffered cardiac arrest after surgery for an intestinal infection. An Army National Guardsman, Staff Sgt. William Chaney, 59, of Schaumburg, Ill., was a Vietnam War vet whose civilian job was as a technician at Midway Airport near Chicago. Chaney was the ninth U.S. fatality among those 50 or older in the 15-month conflict...

What a legacy Bush is leaving to America and the world when he insisted on abandoning the military top brass's advice that 300,000 to 500,000 troops would be needed to occupy and stabilize Iraq. Now, because of Bush's stubbornness and ignorance we are seeing older working men and women with families being called up to fill a gaping hole in the stretched-too-thin and stressed-out active U. S. military.

Maybe this is Bush's real answer to paring back the benefits for seniors who will be drawing on Social Security within the next five years or less. Send these senior military and National Guardsmen to far off places like the hellhole deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan where the physical stress of surviving the roaring dust storms and blazing heat are sure to quickly diminish their ranks.

After all, isn't this what Rumsfeld and his fellow war hawks, Cheney, Perle, Wolfowitz and others, wanted to do all along - wage war on the cheap?

Bush tells the American people that "democracy is taking root" in these countries and that he will "stay the course." But in the meantime, Bush ignores the real war on terrorism, allowing al-Qaeda and terrorists to regroup in places like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Syria and Indonesia, countries which are nesting grounds for fanaticism, religious zealotry and militarism.

Bush once perceived as his crowning glory a great victory over Saddam Hussein but his dream has now become a curse which he must carry with him into November's election. Not exactly what Karl Rove and Andrew Card had planned for. Instead of a "conquering hero" Bush has turned out to be nothing more than a bumbling court jester.

His latest attempts at scaring American citizens with "imminent" terrorist attacks has, to the jester's credit, been laughable when you consider that even the head of the Department of Homeland Security's Tom Ridge wasn't aware of the Attorney General Ashcroft's terrorist threat pronouncement until he saw it on national TV.

Now, reaching deep into the undermanned, under-trained, under-equipped and aging military reserves, Bush is faced with the Hobson's choice of sending more troops to Iraq or abandoning and failing that country by leaving it to the Shiite and Sunni clerics whose goal has always been to establish a theocracy based upon oppressive Islamic orthodoxy.

During holidays and birthdays families at home will be asked by their kids, "Where's grandpa?" The answer may well be, "Oh, grandpa went off to fight in Iraq and he may not be back until next year."

Provided, of course, he doesn't die of a heart attack first.

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