As a combat veteran of World War II, I have been comparing that war with the wars now being fought in the Middle East. I regret that we are losing the wars in the Middle East and the possibility of winning looks bleak.
Our problem is not with our service personnel or equipment. Our problem is the lack of leadership in Washington. Because we, the citizens, are responsible for the executive and the congressional branches of our government, the blame drops right into our laps. We don't bother to inform ourselves about candidates and the issues facing the nation - we place too much judgment on personalities and party politics.
The biggest difference between the wars is that the draft was used in World War II and the war affected everyone. Today, you can walk down the street and see nothing indicating we are in a war - maybe a car with a faded "Support the Troops" sticker.
Just a few days ago, it was front-page news that four of our servicemen were killed in Afghanistan. In 2009, 466 soldiers were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Italy, attempting to cross the Rapido River in January 1944, the 141st and 143rd regiments of the 36th Division in 48 hours suffered 2,128 casualties: 155 killed, 1,052 wounded and 921 missing or captured.
My generation paid the price in unseating dictators in Japan, Germany and Italy, and it was done in four years. This generation has been at war for nine years, with marginal success. We hope Iraq will have a stable government, but who knows how many more years we'll have to nurse it along?
Osama bin Laden must be cackling with glee at what he sees while hiding in mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan. His band of terrorists has withstood the greatest military force in the world. He also sees a nation drowning itself in debt, obsessed with political bickering, and with a commander in chief who advocates reading Miranda rights to prisoners of war, neglecting to protect our borders and putting restraints on firing at the enemy in order to avoid any possible harm to civilians.
Archie Thomas is a guest columnist
The Washington Post on July 9 reported, "To the U.S. soldiers getting pounded with thunderous mortar rounds in their combat outpost near Kandahar, it seemed like a legitimate request: allow them to launch retaliatory mortar shells or summon an airstrike against their attackers. The incoming fire was landing perilously close to a guard station, and the soldiers, using a high-powered camera, could clearly see the insurgents shooting. The response from headquarters - more than 20 miles away - was terse. Permission denied. Battalion-level officers deemed the insurgents too close to a cluster of mud-brick houses, perhaps with civilians inside." Is it any wonder that last year was the Army's worst for suicides, with 244 confirmed or suspected cases?
Our troops also see the billions of dollars spent on stimulus programs that have not worked and an indebtedness that is being carefully watched by our main source of funds - China. We seem to be going out of our minds in proposing millions of dollars for a mandated requirement that every citizen must fight obesity by having a body mass index record!
To top off all this nonsense, our troops may not be paid in the near future. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been pleading with Congress for $33 billion to continue our effort in the Middle East. He wanted the funds by July 4, but never received them. Gates once again has visited Capitol Hill seeking the funds. As of July 14 the funds have not been provided.
Osama bin Laden is in no hurry - he'll just watch as we defeat ourselves.
Wake up America: We are in real danger!