This OpEd in today's USA today makes a lot of sense. As the daughter of a marine and the aunt of a marine who served two tours in Iraq I appreciate the writer's service and his position:
Troops political pawn in Iraq war
By Marco Martinez
You can tell a lot about a nation by whom it trusts.
I am a former gang member-turned-Marine, not a statistician. But when I read that a Pew Research Center survey recently found that 76% of Republicans "have confidence" in the U.S. military to give an accurate picture of the war vs. only 36% of Democrats, the long-range consequences of a divided country became clear: We've become a nation that sees its soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines as political pawns, not patriots. Like thousands of combat veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I am now home, working and attending college. Yet it is the pre-presidential election climate I see stateside that concerns me most for my brothers and sisters in arms.
Gen. David Petraeus, who has faced Herculean challenges of mortal consequence, will issue his report on progress in Iraq next week. Regardless of what he reports, it's worth reminding the American people — and all politicians in Washington — that the troops must not become the rope in a political tug of war on Capitol Hill.
When I hear members of Congress, such as House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., say that progress with the surge might create a "real big problem for us" in moving toward withdrawal, I think back to the hellish fighting my fellow Marines and I endured — and I feel ashamed that any American would make such a seemingly reckless political calculation. Knowing that a politician might view success in Iraq as an electoral problem is political zealotry in the extreme. Does Clyburn's remark, though his alone, reflect a growing anxiety among Democrats that success in Iraq might complicate plans for ending the war?
Political dissent is healthy, especially when the issue is as critical as the Iraq war. But so is human decency. When an anti-war protester at the college I attend found out I was an Iraq veteran, she called me "a disgusting human being." I felt sorry for her, so blinded by politics that she had abandoned basic civility. Thankfully, she doesn't represent most Americans who oppose the war. But I worry about those still on the battlefield, and the individuals they will face when they return to a nation embroiled in election politics.
Many combat veterans, like me, have the luxury of watching the political debates from the safety of America. Not true for the 190,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Undermining the efforts of those whom one claims to support is the height of hubris.
Is it too much to ask that politicians view U.S. progress in Iraq as positive and not negative? I pray not.
Marco Martinez, a recipient of the Navy Cross, is author of the forthcoming book Hard Corps: From Gangster to Marine Hero.