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Experienced Military Veterans to Bush: You Frakked Up the Military, You Idiot

May 12th, 2008

During the 2000 election, Bush repeatedly attacked Clinton for cutting military spending and allowing the armed forces to weaken, primarily because of deployments in the Balkans:

“If called on by the commander-in-chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report …, ‘Not ready for duty, sir.’”

But Maj. Thomas Collins, an Army spokesman, told CNN: “All 10 Army divisions are combat-ready, fully able to meet their war-fighting mission.”

The ten divisions included the two that Bush claimed were not ready–a claim clearly recognizable as false, as the two divisions were at that time deployed, therefore obviously ready to report for duty. That didn’t stop Bush, of course. He claimed that the Clinton administration was responsible for the cuts in military spending–ignoring the fact that Bush’s father (with Dick Cheney at his side) started the cuts as part of the post-Cold-War “Peace Dividend,” that Bush 41 cut more funding than Clinton had, and that Clinton was actually reversing the trend of cuts and was starting to increase military spending.

Bush has increased military spending to levels higher than at the end of the Cold War, a tragic irony considering that despite the expenditures, Bush has broken the military and made it less ready to fight a war than it has been since after Vietnam. Clinton’s military was positively buff in comparison.

Today, the U.S. military has been stretched far too thin. Think that’s a convenient liberal myth? Then think again–that’s what “3,400 active and retired officers at the highest levels of command”–that means officers of the rank of Major or higher–said in a recent survey (PDF). 88% reported that the Iraq War has “stretched the U.S. military dangerously thin.” Not just thin, but dangerously thin. 52% of all interviewed said they “strongly agreed” with that assertion.

And that’s not the only opinion they have: 60% say the military is weaker now than it was 5 years ago; the three most important reasons were cited as the pace of troop deployments and rotations, civilian leadership/oversight, and wars in Iraq/Afghanistan, according to 76% of those who thought the military is weaker. Only 2% of the one-quarter minority who thought the military is stronger cited civilian leadership as the reason (53% said it was “personnel with more experience, education, and training”).

80% said it would be unreasonable to expect the U.S. military to successfully wage another major war somewhere else in the world today. 50% said “very unreasonable.” Only 3% said “very reasonable.” So, what was that Bush was saying in 2000 about two of ten divisions reporting “not ready” if called on for duty?

74% said that the Bush administration set unreasonable goals for the military in post-war Iraq. Only 7% approved of using criminal and health waivers to beef up the military–the least-approved of measure, which is exactly what the Bush administration is resorting to now.

52% said that the military is weaker than it was 10 years ago, under Clinton, as opposed to 35% who said it was stronger; this coming from a strongly conservative military community–so much for Bush’s claims. Almost the exact same number–51%–said the military is weaker today than it was in 1993, when Bush 41 handed it over to Clinton. Again, a sharp blow to the idea that Clinton was the one who weakened the military somehow.

After five years and endless reports that our soldiers are not being equipped properly, 45% still report that the administration is still equipping soldiers “inadequately,” as opposed to 34% who said the equipment was “adequate.”

37% said that Iran has gained the greatest strategic advantage from the war in Iraq; China came in second at 22%, and the U.S. third at 19%. Heckuva job, Bushie!

95% of those who responded to the survey had served at least 16 years; 81% had served 21 or more years.

After understanding all of that, consider that John McCain wants to keep our troops in Iraq for another fifty to one hundred years.

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