Well, that didn't take long. As I said on the occasion of the Senate's censure of MoveOn.org:
They are not interested in protecting the troops from criticism any more than they are in providing for their actual needs. They are only interested in protecting their political "tools," which is exactly what General Petraeus is.
Republicans will continue to aid and abet attacks on any service member, active duty or retired, who does not spout GOP talking points, or dares to criticize the neocon agenda.
Leave it to Rush "Boil On His Butt" Limbaugh, to unload his venom on all the troops who don't share the grand neocon vision. As per Media Matters:
LIMBAUGH: There's a lot more than that that they don't understand. They can't even -- if -- the next guy that calls here, I'm gonna ask him: Why should we pull -- what is the imperative for pulling out? What's in it for the United States to pull out? They can't -- I don't think they have an answer for that other than, "Well, we just gotta bring the troops home."
CALLER 2: Yeah, and, you know what --
LIMBAUGH: "Save the -- keep the troops safe" or whatever. I -- it's not possible, intellectually, to follow these people.
CALLER 2: No, it's not, and what's really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media.
LIMBAUGH: The phony soldiers.
CALLER 2: The phony soldiers. If you talk to a real soldier, they are proud to serve. They want to be over in Iraq. They understand their sacrifice, and they're willing to sacrifice for their country.
Yes, from the man who could not serve his country in Vietnam, because of an anal fissure, a delightful new term: "phony soldier." Pretty horrifying, especially when you consider just how many of those "phony" soldiers are taking it in the shorts in this misbegotten adventure. Yes, a good number of the troops who are actually doing the fighting and the dying are really phonies, by Mr. Limbaugh's standard.
Media Matters cites the New York Times op-ed by seven 82nd Airborne soldiers who expressed their disenchantment with our Iraq involvement and conclusion that we need to withdraw and let the Iraqis regain their dignity by ending our occupation of that country. Two of those seven "phony soldiers" have already paid the ultimate price in Iraq.
But those seven soldiers are just the tip the of the "phony" iceberg floating in our armed services. As of December of last year, it is the minority of our active-duty military who agree with Bush's policies in Iraq. Washington Monthly quotes an E&P article, which is no longer extant on its servers:
Barely one in three service members approve of the way the president is handling the war, according to the new poll for the four papers (Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Times). In another startling finding, only 41% now feel it was the right idea to go to war in Iraq in the first place.
And the number who feel success there is likely has shrunk from 83% in 2004 to about 50% today. A surprising 13% say there should be no U.S. troops in Iraq at all. [...]
Nearly three-quarters of the respondents think today's military is stretched too thin to be effective.
That poll did not, apparently, address the idea of a phased withdrawal from Iraq. An earlier Zogby poll did. When offered a range of questions on the subject, 72% favored some schedule of withdrawal spanning a year. So, by that poll, 72% of our troops are "phony."
Here are some things a chicken-hawk like Mr. Limbaugh cannot possibly understand. Just because our troops are committed to completing whatever mission is assigned to them does not automatically mean that they support the politics behind it. They commit to do what their country, through its representatives, asks of them, and put party and politics aside. That is how our professional military is set up; to be an apolitical institution. The disenchantment we are currently seeing in our military has to do with the increasing sense of futility about the overall mission.
Spc. Don Roberts told the AP, "I don't know what could help at this point..... What would more guys do? We can't pick sides. It's almost like we have to watch them kill each other, then ask questions."
Sgt. Josh Keim, who is on his second tour in Iraq, said, "Nothing's going to help. It's a religious war, and we're caught in the middle of it. It's hard to be somewhere where there's no mission and we just drive around."
Sgt. Justin Thompson added that a troop surge is "not going to stop the hatred between Shia and Sunni." Thompson, whose 4-year contract was involuntarily extended in June, added, "This is a civil war, and we're just making things worse. We're losing. I'm not afraid to say it."
As much as Mr. Limbaugh might want to dismiss those soldiers from the Army's 5th Battalion as "phony," they are real and they represent a growing number of troops who do not think they can be effective in Iraq. By judging our troops according to a political litmus test -- and alternately lionizing and bashing them based on how they represent the GOP agenda -- Limbaugh and his ilk demonstrate their total lack of understanding about what honor really means.
Likewise, the Senate, including 22 Democratic members, completely misconstrued what MoveOn.org was saying with the ad they wasted time and our tax dollars condemning. General Petraeus has betrayed the American people by acting as exactly the kind of political tool that the UCMJ forbids him from becoming.
So, will the Senate be condemning Rush Limbaugh for his scurrilous attack on those military members who have dared to question the efficacy of our Iraq policy? I won't hold my breath.