Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Iowa Front: Military & Veterans’ Weekly Roundup

Until September, when General David Petraeus releases his report on military progress in Iraq, the political progress in America and Iraq will continue to be stricken with paralysis. To escape the August heat, the Iraqi Parliament broke for vacation until Sept. 4, while the U.S. Congress vacated D.C. for its August recess, as some members return home to face the heat from their constituents.

Meanwhile, our troops continue fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan in a war with no clear objective or end in sight. Tragically, Sgt. 1st Class Scott M. Carney, 37, of Ankeny was killed in Afghanistan Aug. 24, when his Humvee rolled during a convoy operation near Herat. Carney was a member of the Iowa Army National Guard and was the 60th person with Iowa ties to die in the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan since March 2003. Carney was survived by his wife, Jeni, and his 12-year-old twin sons, Jacob and Justin. “Scott died doing what he loved, serving his country and protecting the freedom that we enjoy and providing the people of Afghanistan with the opportunity for freedom,” Carney’s family said in a released statement. (Des Moines Register).

Back home in Iowa, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has been dogged by voters and anti-war groups all across Iowa during town hall meetings. (see videos below). Fortunately for Grassley and other Congressmen who support the war in Iraq, the Bush Administration equipped them with the perfect defense weapon to fend off unhappy constituents: Gen. Petraeus. In lieu of having to defend Bush’s policies in Iraq, Grassley et. al. merely have to say: “Wait until September...”

Moreover, the anti–war/pro-troop group “No Iraq Escalation” has launched a campaign, “Iraq Summer,” targeting Grassley and Rep. Tom Latham, R-District 4, which focuses on visibility and involves bright red “Support the Troops, End the War,” signs planted all across Iowa.

The “war of words” has also hit the airwaves in Iowa as two groups, "Veterans for Freedom" and "MoveOn.Org," are both on the attack... against one another. "Veterans for Freedom" commercials feature young American soldiers urging people to support the soldiers serving overseas. Meanwhile, other groups are asking voters to call their congressman to ask for an end to the war. Grassley says the ad blitz falls under our constitutional right to freedom of speech, but he believes the negativity is discouraging for troops. "I know from hearing from the people in the battlefield that it's very demoralizing to hear, because they know that the Arabs and the Iraqis are seeing on television what goes on over here," Grassley said. (KTIV, Sioux City)

Like his Gen.-Petraeus response, this feels like a familiar crutch for Grassley. I’ve discussed the war in Iraq with several Iraq war veterans, and not one of them said they felt demoralized by groups calling for a return of troops. Most of them initially respond that they are professionally trained soldiers and aren’t distracted by what’s going on at home, let alone feel demoralized. Furthermore, they all talk about living on “real time” while serving on the ground in Iraq, meaning they’re only concerned with the next five minutes, because that’s the only thing that’s going to keep them alive, not some political argument thousands of miles away.

Sen. Grassley Takes the Heat on Iraq in Small-Town Iowa

Sen. Grassley Attempts to Fend Off Constituents in Southern Iowa

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