What a difference some years make in our perspective. I remember distinctly sitting around with others full of bloodlust and enthusiasm after Americans kicked the Iraqis out of Kuwait and bemoaning the fact that George Bush was a wimp and didn't follow through and invade Iraq.
He said the job was to drive them out of Kuwait which the forces did. We thought, what a wimp, how silly when Iraq is ours for the taking. Push on to Baghdad, we said.
Now along comes the son who is going to finish the job his wimpy father didn't do. He is going to take Iraq, drive the dictator from his throne and accept the love and adoration that America deserves for being the liberator.
Could it be that dad was right and his never-having-served-in- any-war gung-ho son is wrong? Ironically the son who was going to show up dad may have been taken to the historical woodshed by his own father.
More and more it is coming clear that we may be in a mini-Vietnam. The secret CIA report disclosed this week questions if American forces are not increasingly being seen as the interlopers and if more and more Iraqis aren't favoring the terrorists.
Former Georgia U.S. senator Max Cleland wrote a scathing op-ed column a few months ago pointing out that the current President Bush didn't learn the lessons of Vietnam because he didn't fight in Vietnam or anywhere else.
So far 389 American soldiers have been killed in the Iraqi fighting, of which 247 have been killed since President Bush declared on May 1 the major combat activity was over.
Those killed since May 1 include five Georgians Army Pvt. Benjamin L. Freeman and Army Sgt. Nathaniel Hart Jr., both of Valdosta, Army Spc. John K. Klinesmith of Stockbridge, Army Sgt. Michael T. Crockett of Soperton and Army Spc. David T. Nutt of Blackshear.
I feel for their families and friends and I hope they did not die for a cause that is unwinnable like Vietnam. I find it hard to think of young soldiers as so many chess pieces to be sacrificed by safe arm chair generals like Bush's inner circle who can wave the flag and turn up the volume on Merle Haggard and tell anyone else to love what we are doing or leave the country.
The hit and run, willing to die terrorist guerrillas always have the upper hand over regular troops. The British learned this the hard way when they fought us in the lowlands and swamps of South Carolina in the American Revolution.
It always amazes me that we Americans, who are so proud of our land, who would die to defend it, don't understand that other people in other lands have the same feelings about their homes. We sometimes see it as just territory but it is their homeland and whether Vietnam or Iraq, they don't want some foreign country coming in and controlling their lives.
Much has been made about how Bush goes to no soldier funerals and his crowd doesn't allow flag-draped coffins to be photographed. Instead he talks in general about the sacrifices of the soldiers so Americans won't put individual faces on the lives cut short. It's always easy to sacrifice someone else's son than your own.
President Eisenhower, who certainly as a soldier president, earned the right to send troops into foreign wars instead had a tenure of relative peace after he ended the Korean War he inherited. Eisenhower knew the horror of war. He had tasted it, seen it firsthand, agonized over it. He told President Kennedy not to ever get involved in a land war in Asia because he knew it wasn't winnable. If he had known he might have offered President Bush the advice to not get involved in a land war in the Middle East.
The world is loving it. They told us not to invade and they are not about to jump in and help extricate us from this mess. Americans are patient to an extent but how many more body bags will have to come back as we day by day get closer to the 2004 fall elections? Can we open Christmas presents and in the background the television news is reporting on more dead American soldiers? I for one want this over with. Is it traitorous to care enough for the soldiers to question whether enough is being done to protect their lives and whether they are being asked to do an undoable task, a task that politicians should be doing rather than soldiers?
Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald and can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.