Incumbent-Senator Mark Kirk faced challenger Representative Tammy Duckworth in the Illinois Senate debate on back in October.
There were two statements that stood out.
The first was Duckworth’s response about one of the things that has been missing from this general election debate: a real hard substantive discussion about war and peace, and the people who will be impacted by the decisions (or rather the lack of decisions) made in Washington.
The United States has been involved in Afghanistan for 15 years and is mission creeping into other parts of the Middle East due to the fight against ISIS.
Consider this, a young person might have enlisted in one of the armed forces at the age of 18 in September 2001. The soldier, sailor, Marine, or airman might have done multiple deployments to either Afghanistan, Iraq, or been in the Persian Gulf theater.
The service member most likely would have a pretty impressive war chest on their uniform by now that tells many stories – the comraderies, the horrors, and the mundane of being at war. Now after 15 years that service member is a senior non-commissioned officer preparing for yet another deployment. Perhaps Afghanistan. In the aged service member’s unit is a newly trained service member fresh from boot camp and advanced training who was born in January 1998.
If we are still in Afghanistan in some capacity by October 2018, the military could start seeing enlistees who were born on or after 11 September 2001 and serving alongside service members who have served in the Global War on Terror during that time period. Many will be approaching retirement and are battle-hardened while the new entries will have lived in a time period where the US has always been in Afghanistan which has now surpassed our longest military engagement.
Honestly, Congress is unreliable on addressing what exactly is our mission overseas. They are too afraid to even discuss an Authorization the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS or redefine the mission in Afghanistan or the overall Global War on Terror because with that vote comes the political consequences.
And Congress has been derelict in their duties for too long to take up this issue as they are too busy with the dog & pony show of ObamaCare repeal votes, the kangaroo court that is the Benghazi investigation and Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, the refusal to address firearm violence, and the shameful act of letting Flint, MI continue to drink lead-laced water.
This is the People’s House and since it is such, I at least expect them to do one of their jobs to discuss matters of war and peace. They control the budgets for defense, state, intelligence, and other departments that are associated with foreign and domestic security.
I doubt that Donald Trump can tell anybody what AUMF stands for, and I doubt that his handlers even bothered to.
So, the next president (hopefully Hillary Clinton) will have some tough decisions to make about our foreign engagements.
Expect the same cast of characters who beat the drums for Iraq in 2002 to do the same for another Middle Eastern war or remain in Afghanistan for another 10 years.
And if Duckworth is a senator, which is likely given the polls and that exchange from the debate, you can expect Tammy Duckworth to provide an example as the cost of war.
“My family has served this nation in uniform, going back to the Revolution. I’m a daughter of the American Revolution. I’ve bled for this nation But I still want to be there in the Senate when the drums of war sound. Families like mine are the ones that bleed first. But let’s make sure the American people understand what we are engaging in, and let’s hold our allies accountable, because we can’t do it all.”
The second part came from the Kirk.
“I had forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.”
Kirk should know fucking better
Kirk, like Duckworth, is a veteran. He is a retired Navy commander having served most of his time in the reserves with a few callups to active duty in the late 1990s, early 2000s. Duckworth’s proof of her service is more visible than anyone’s.
She also can trace her lineage back to the Revolutionary War through her father’s side, also an Army officer.
When I read and eventually saw those comments, I was livid. I am tired of one political party using veterans as a game piece. They thank us for our service and claim to fight for our issues only to then turn around to say we don’t have our priorities in order. I’m looking at you Senator Richard Burr (NC, R).
Or a California Congressman getting upset about California National Guardsmen having to repay bonuses… except that he had the power to do something about it when it brought to his attention two years ago
Or a Colorado Congressman who sits on the appropriations committee and is upset about the cost overruns concerning a new VA Hospital in his district
Or the Republican nominee saying that Senator John McCain (AZ, R) who I disagree with on a whole lot of issues but I respect his service and sacrifice greatly, was “not a hero for being captured” by his party’s standard bearer. And yet McCain did not condemn him in order to win his senate primary and abandoned him after the revelations of a lewd comment caught on tape were revealed.
Or the same person accepting a Purple Heart and saying he always wanted one… considering that several Purple Hearts are awarded posthumously
Or insulting a Gold Star family whose son made the ultimate sacrifice and would have no place in the Republican nominee’s America because of his assumed background. The nominee then insulated that the son would be alive if he was president claiming that he never supported the Iraq War. The evidence says otherwise.
In this election, we the people, certainly deserved a robust debate about the type of country we should seek to be. I strongly felt that war and peace, foreign policy, and veterans’ affairs would get discussed since for the last 15 years we have been at war… for a very small percentage of the population. The last 15 years has been a different experience for those in the military compared to those that spent their lives in the civilian sphere. For the most part uninterrupted without being asked to sacrifice. While those in uniform have been continued to ask to sacrifice more and more and more without much objection.
And we should know better