My stepson – a Master Sergeant in the Marine Corps – will be shipping out of Camp Pendleton much sooner than we thought. It’s a secret where ‘out’ is at this point, but I doubt he’s deploying to the Bahamas. As a consistent supporter of the Global War on Terror, his mother and I are rightfully proud and support his mission whatever it is.
He has a wife and children. In my eyes he is full of untapped potential that the Marine Corps has missed. He is a soldier intellectual without knowing it, an avid historian who remembers long-forgotten wars and draws his own, unique conclusions. He would excel in an academic setting, especially one with a strong military bearing like the Navy Academy or West Point.
He was one of the first Marines into Afghanistan in 2001. He served in East Timor as a peacekeeper. He has been to Iraq and holds his own controversial opinions. He has a sense of duty that I admire, and a sense of humor that I envy. He is strong, self-assured, handsome and brave – all the things necessary to make women swoon and men follow him without hesitation into battle. If your son is a Marine, my stepson is the man you want leading him.
When discussing death he is nonchalant, stating simply that he wishes to be buried in Arlington so that his service to our nation isn’t forgotten. He reminds us that he has willfully chosen this path, and that he did not join the Corps for its safety and security. He’s also looking forward to going.
Hearing him talk so casually about his own death frightens his mother and me. However, one of the things that scares me more is a President promising ‘consequences’ to an Iranian regime that supplies munitions to kill American soldiers – and doesn’t deliver on that threat.
According to the New York Times, Iranian-made explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) accounted for a third of the combat deaths suffered by U.S.-led forces last month. This is nothing new. In August 2005 then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld claimed that captured munitions from insurgents came ‘clearly, unambiguously from Iran.’ In March 2006 ABC News reported US military and intelligence sources had caught shipments of EFPs at the Iran-Iraq border.
What has the Bush Administration done? On February 14, 2007 President Bush insisted he was ‘going to do something about’ the Iranian arms flow into Iraq. Soon after he authorized face-to-face negotiations with the Iranians. These negotiations have done nothing to stem the flow of munitions into Iraq from Iran, while at the same time handed the Iranians a propaganda victory by forcing the ‘Great Satan’ to the negotiating table.
Iraq is not Vietnam – contrary to what some believe. However there may be another analogy between the two conflicts that holds. Consider the flow of arms into North Vietnam from the USSR through China during the 1960’s and 1970’s. At the same time the Soviet Union supplied technicians and advisors to North Vietnam, many of whom manned anti-aircraft batteries that shot down American aircraft. How many of those munitions and advisors carved the names of American soldiers into the wall at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC?
What were the consequences for the Chinese and Soviets? Nixon’s visit to Peking in 1972 and ‘detente’ with the Soviets. Republican that I am I never bought the rehabilitation of Nixon and still hold him more responsible for our failure in Vietnam than Democratic President Lyndon Johnson.
Coalition forces have captured members of the Iranian Quds Force in Iraq, something that President Bush acknowledged back in February. The presence of this Iranian Special Ops unit, the use of Iranian munitions, and the recent video captured by US intelligence showing Iraqi insurgents firing Iranian rockets at coalition bases provides overwhelming evidence that the Iranian regime has American blood on its hands.
Will the ‘consequences’ be the same for them as it was the Chinese and Soviets?
It’s one thing to send men like my stepson into battle; it’s another to expose him to danger because our leader lacks the will to take the fight to his true enemy.
And that frightens me more than anything.
Scott Kirwin is a freelance writer living in Wilmington Delaware.