Bush will not admit that his troops are too exhausted to sustain his vengeful global missions

Sidney Blumenthal
Thursday January 27, 2005
The Guardian

The most penetrating critique of the realism informing President Bush’s second inaugural address, a trumpet call of imperial ambition, was made one month before it was delivered, by Lt Gen James Helmly, chief of the US Army Reserve.

In an internal memorandum, he described “the Army Reserve’s inability under current policies, procedures and practices … to meet mission requirements associated with Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. The Army Reserve is additionally in grave danger of being unable to meet other operational requirements and is rapidly degenerating into a broken force”.

These “dysfunctional” policies are producing a crisis “more acute and hurtful”, as the Reserve’s ability to mobilise troops is “eroding daily”.

The US force in Iraq of about 150,000 troops is composed of a “volunteer” army that came into being with the end of military conscription during the Vietnam war. More than 40% are National Guard and Reserves, most having completed second tours of duty and being sent out again.

The force level has been maintained by the Pentagon only by “stop-loss” orders that coerce soldiers to remain in service after their contractual enlistment expires – a back-door draft.

Re-enlistment is collapsing, by 30% last year. The Pentagon justified this de facto conscription by telling Congress that it is merely a short-term solution that would not be necessary as Iraq quickly stabilises and an Iraqi security force fills the vacuum. But this week the Pentagon announced that the US force level would remain unchanged through 2006.

“I don’t know where these troops are coming from. It’s mystifying,” Representative Ellen Tauscher, a ranking Democrat on the House armed services committee, told me. “There’s no policy to deal with the fact we have a military in extremis.”

Bush’s speech calling for “ending tyranny in all the world” was of consistent abstraction uninflected by anything as specific as the actual condition of the military that would presumably be sent scurrying on various global missions.

But the speech was aflame with images of destruction and vengeance. The neoconservatives were ecstatic, perhaps as much by their influence in inserting their gnostic codewords into the speech as the dogmatism of the speech itself.

For them, Bush’s rhetoric about “eternal hope that is meant to be fulfiled” was a sign of their triumph. The speech, crowed neocon William Kristol, who consulted on it, was indeed “informed by Strauss” – a reference to Leo Strauss, philosopher of obscurantist strands of absolutist thought, mentor and inspiration to some neocons who believe they fulfil his teaching by acting as tutors to politicians in need of their superior guidance.

‘Informed” is hardly the precise word to account for the manipulation of Bush’s impulses by cultish advisers with ulterior motives.

For full story go to The Guardian