MAXWELL: White House delivers surge in lies, hypocrisy
2/18/2007 – Printed in the PERSPECTIVE section of The St Petersburg Times Newspaper

The hypocrites, mostly conservative Republicans, are at it again. Led by President Bush, they are spewing nonsense about Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and anyone else who opposes Bush’s order to “surge” 21,500 U.S. service personnel into Iraq.
These Republicans, along with Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, are accusing Democrats of not supporting our troops because they back a nonbinding resolution opposing the surge and have hinted that they may try to cut off money for troops in the field if the surge fails to pan out as the “new way forward in Iraq.”
To surge or not to surge could be a great and honest national debate. It certainly is a needed debate. But we are not having an honest debate.
We are being fed devious semantics about who supports our troops and who does not. To Republicans backing the surge, wanting to bring our troops home and take them out of harm’s way is tantamount to being the enemy of our troops.
Think how illogical this position sounds: If you want to save the lives our soldiers, if you do not want to see another limb blown off, if you do not want to see another brain pierced by shrapnel and if you want little children to see their parents return home safely from the battlefield, you do not support the troops.
Instead, you are portrayed as aiding and abetting the terrorists and demoralizing our troops. Listen to Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas: “The enemy wants our men and women in uniform to think that their Congress doesn’t care about them …that they’re going to cut the funding and abandon them and their mission.”
Unaccountably, at least to me, this kind of hogwash actually works with many Americans. It also works well with some foreign leaders who support Bush’s Iraq policies. Australian Prime Minister John Howard, whose nation has fewer than 2,000 troops in Iraq as part of the U.S.-led coalition, is a good example. Last week, Howard suggested that terrorists would dance in the streets and toss candy and flowers if Illinois Democratic Sen. Barack Obama – who opposed the Iraq war from the outset – were elected president. By the way, not one Australian soldier has been killed in combat in Iraq.
But back to reality – to the United States, where more and more families grieve each day for their loved ones lost or severely wounded in Iraq.
Here is a substantive example of the reality of who supports the troops and who does not. The Washington Post reported last week that the Army, which has suffered the largest number of fatalities, began the Iraq war in 2003 with an estimated $56-billion shortage of equipment – including advanced Humvees equipped with armor kits designed to reduce troop deaths from roadside bombs.
Well, guess what? Nearly four years later, the Army, the Marine Corps and the National Guard still do not have an adequate number of Humvees equipped with the needed FRAG Kit 5 armor manufactured with more flexible materials that slow projectiles and contain debris, thus causing fewer deaths.
Is this support of our troops?
Pentagon brass and the president have known about these shortages from the beginning. And, while saber rattling, they have known all along that serious shortages of the new armor have been responsible, directly and indirectly, for hundreds of U.S. deaths.
Is this support of our troops?
It is not. Yet the president remains hell-bent on a surge of thousands of troops into Iraq. An Army spokesman said that while thousands of additional troops will be deployed to Baghdad by the end of March, the armor upgrade of Humvees there will not be completed until summer. Even now, we are seeing a U.S. escalation of street patrols in Baghdad.
To send in more troops is unconscionable. Bush and his supporters have no moral basis to lecture those who oppose the surge when they know full well that the military has a shortage of new Humvee armor.
This is not supporting our troops. This is needlessly sending our troops to their deaths.