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Friday, 25 August 2006 07:10

Families Expecting Loved Ones From Iraq Get Rumsfeld Instead, as Troops Redeployed to Baghdad. Dems Plan No-Confidence Vote

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Imagine waiting twelve long months for your loved one to return from serving in Iraq. For 365 days you watch the news, recoiling at every report of casualties. Dread encompasses every ring of the telephone. With just two weeks left before your son, father, brother, or friend returns, the anticipation is unbearable. You plan a huge cookout with the whole town, or maybe just a quiet family greeting, as you prepare to welcome your loved one back into normal life again.

But instead of finally greeting him with celebration and relief, you are instead stuck with a brief visit by... Donald Rumsfeld.

Talk about a bum deal.

This is the sad reality for hundreds of families of the Alaska based Army 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team. Amidst the growing violence in Baghdad, most of the brigade had their well-deserved R&R canceled just days before and was ordered to the Iraqi capital where they face four more months of unspeakable dangers.

Many soldiers had even made it home as recently as July, only to be told with hardly any notice that they had to fly back to the other side of the planet to get shot at for another sixteen weeks (unless of course the government changes its mind yet again).

It must have been little relief to the families left behind to hear that Rumsfeld will be coming to Alaska instead of their loved ones. Not to mention that the private meeting was only an afterthought; his primary reason for coming was to plot and scheme with his Russian counterpart, perhaps over the deployment of more American soldiers.

Just this week the Pentagon announced it is bringing back involuntary call-ups for at least 2,500 Marines, many of whom have already survived several tours of duty and thought they were done. Such "backdoor drafts" are not uncommon from the Bush Administration, such as forcing around 50,000 troops to serve past their discharge dates through the "stop-loss" program.

Despite doubling enlistment bonuses and relaxing recruitment standards, troop shortages are clearly growing worse. We are running out of alternatives before full conscription will become necessary if we are to stay in Iraq (or invade someone else).

However, reports indicate that Democrats are planning to introduce a "no-confidence" vote of Rumsfeld soon. The measure shows some promise because many moderate Republicans, such as John McCain, have maintained their support for the decision to go to Iraq but are increasingly acknowledging the horrendous job the Pentagon did in executing it. While a no-confidence vote would certainly not fix the irreversible harm Bush has caused, it would nonetheless be a significant blow to his continuing reliance on Rumsfeld and the Administration's failed policies.