Saturday, October 06, 2007

Bemedaled and Beleaguered

From William J. Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF):
"... Many medals shout "been there," rather than "done that." Some awards and decorations today are tied more to the military rank of the recipient than to objective measures of merit. Indeed, ribbons have proliferated like nuclear missiles during the Cold War. I counted nine rows on Petraeus' left breast during his Congressional hearings. If they were a valid metric across time, he would be roughly thrice as capable and valorous as George C. Marshall, perhaps America's greatest soldier-statesman, who somehow ran and won a world war while wearing only three rows of ribbons.
[ ... ]
To paraphrase John F. Kennedy: Ask not what your military can do for you, but ask what you can do for your military. In this case, "support our troops" should mean supporting the idea of pulling them out of a morale-sucking morass. The President won't act, so Congress must. Chaos may -- or may not -- ensue in Iraq after our troops withdraw, but buying time for more colorful benchmarks to be met, for more impressive metrics to be produced, is unconscionable when we know it will entail thousands of additional American casualties and hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars. These are the metrics that matter -- blood and treasure. But what should matter even more to our country than body bags and billions is trust -- the emotional and spiritual ties that bind our troops to ourselves. ..."

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