Tuesday, February 26, 2008

On Investigations, Bureaucracy, and Coffins

Now that I've finished reposting everything from the past, I can start writing and posting new thoughts.

Views on the Iraq war run the gamut from the likely misquoted "stay for another 100 years" to the gut reaction "pull the troops out now" and everything in between. Something that we can all agree on (I hope, anyway) is that, whether or not we have troops over there, as long as we do, we need to provide them with the proper equipment so that they come home alive, instead of in coffins. So it is disheartening to me to see today's article that the Marines are looking into what caused a delay in getting Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs) to frontline troops in Iraq.

During World War II, countless telegrams were sent by the War Department to families, saying that their sons and brothers and husbands and fathers had died in the service of a greater cause, in the cause of freedom and democracy for all. There were screwups, yes. Planes crashed, intelligence let them down, equipment failed. But the telegrams that came back from Iraq because of an apparent bureaucratic screwup preventing MRAPs from getting to Iraq as quickly as possible are a pill nearly impossible to swallow. If the investigation should determine who is responsible for this tragic failure, they should never be allowed to work in public service again, and if they acted willfully, they should go to jail.

Regardless of whether you believe that the troops should come home immediately or if we need to stay there for a century (neither of these groups include me, by the way), take a peak at history and the last long-term controversial war our country experienced. At the height of both personal and political opposition to the Vietnam War, Robert Kennedy never once voted against an appropriation for the war, even as he campaigned to bring every last soldier home. You never deny anything to the boys on the ground. And as for bringing them home, here is my view. I do not know if we should have ever gone to Iraq. And fortunately, the reality of the world we live in prevents me from having to make such a decision. But they need to be protected, secured, and allowed to do their job, so that they can come home as quickly and safely as possible.