Stranded and Abandoned in Taji

You probably aren't acquainted with anybody who has a close relative stranded in Iraq, surrounded by a hostile local population. Only about one in a thousand of us is currently serving in uniform, and the Iraq outpost accounts for a tiny fraction of the soldiers, sailors and flyers reporting for duty here and abroad. It's unlikely that anybody reading this is plagued by worry over the young Americans stationed there and exposed to the rockets' red glare on all sides. If the recruits serving in Iraq feel abandoned, we've given them good reason, as their families will attest.

The biggest problem for both soldiers and their families is the quality of leadership. How would you feel if your life depended on the decisions of a commander-in-chief like Donald Trump or anybody he might name to command you? If your daughter was braving bombs and bullets to "protect" Iraqi oil fields miles away? If the only news you ever got about your boy's war came from his letters home? If nobody around you seemed to care about the danger and bloodshed in your kids' lives or even to be aware that atrocities were happening all around them?

If there's any mention at all in your local paper of the latest rocket attack, it's not on the front page, and it tells you almost nothing about the mission and the people performing it. It's a very rare occasion when NPR lets us hear from a soldier below the rank of general, and such reports never tell us what the soldier thinks we ought to know. You may notice how careful the reporter is to thank the veteran for his service; don't mistake this for respect or concern. NPR reporters and their commercial colleagues routinely report what they're fed by government officials, even when they know they're being lied to. Their corrections and apologies are few and far between.

News-mongers never acknowledge how demoralizing their own neglect of duty is to GI's, their families and older veterans. Conscripts of past armies experience self-destructive rage out of frustration with the poor quality of reports from war zones. Most reporters don't even seem to know where their soldiers are engaged, much less how and why. There is almost no veteran alive today who didn't experience feelings of abandonment by the civilian world and outrage at their ignorance of the facts of war. We get those feelings again vicariously when new generations of soldiers and their families have to tolerate such malfeasance.