Guest Commentary by Bill Ritter
A few days ago I read Congressional Candidate Charlie Brown’s post on the nationally acclaimed progressive blog: The Daily Kos.
Charlie’s son, a USAF Captain, has been ordered to return for a fourth tour of duty in Iraq.
Once again for the Brown family this needless and unnecessary war in Iraq has been brought close to home. Please see Charlie Brown’s post below.
This follows the announcement by Bush/Cheney Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reported by the Associated Press & the Huffington Post:
“Stretched thin by four years of war, the Army is adding three months to the standard yearlong tour for all active-duty soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, an extraordinary step aimed at maintaining the troop buildup in Baghdad.”
I had the honor of meeting Charlie Brown and his wife Jan during the fall election of 2006. Charlie was the Democratic Party nominee for Congress to represent the 4th Congressional District of California. Charlie & Jan (both retired USAF officers and neither one a politician) were carrying forth their patriotic duty to oppose this war which they knew to be unjust, unnecessary and begun with false motives. In the true spirit of practicing one’s citizenship, they waged a valiant campaign seeking to remove from the Congress one of the biggest proponents of the Iraq War: John Doolittle.
Military veterans throughout the district joined them in their effort and some national war heroes such as Gen. Wesley Clark, former US Senator Max Cleland as well as former Congressman Pete McCloskey came to campaign for Charlie. All these men together with Charlie Brown (a war veteran too) know that you go to war only as a last resort and you had better be certain of the need to do so and how to win your objective. And your war must be a just one, a moral one to sustain the support of the American people, our allies and the good citizens of the world who share this planet with us.
The Bush/Cheney Iraq War is a disaster for our country in every way. We must work everyday in some way to remove these horrible politicians including Doolittle who continue to take this country down the path of disaster.
This past fall, together with friends and political allies, I organized two events in Davis to raise money for Charlie’s campaign to unseat the corrupt and pro-Iraq war Congressman John Doolittle. None of us could vote for Charlie, but we could walk precincts, work phone banks and raise money. Why would we do this? Because our country is in serious, serious trouble and just voting for our local Congressman Mike Thompson is not enough.
With the election of Speaker Nancy Pelosi the Congress has begun to change the direction of this country, but it is not fast enough for the Bush/Cheney Iraq War continues as Americans and other human beings continue to die and our country is going bankrupt both financially and morally.
We must strengthen the Congress with additional voices of reason and sound judgment as well as elect a president who will end this war. The Bush/Cheney Iraq War has made our nation less safe and more vulnerable not only to terrorism, but to fiscal mismanagement and the war profiteering corruption which will wreck havoc on our citizens for generations to come. This insanity must stop.
I urge everyone to enlist once again in supporting Charlie Brown for Congress. We came close to electing him in 2006 and with your help we can do it in 2008.
He can be contacted at:
Phone: (916) 792-7696
Mail: P.O. Box 368, Roseville, CA 95661
CA04: MY SON IS OFF TO SERVE HIS 4th ROTATION IN IRAQ
Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 09:30:44 AM PDT
Most Americans woke up this morning ready to read the morning paper, listen to the news, and check their computer to see what the day would bring.
Jan and I woke up knowing that today our son deployed for his fourth rotation in Iraq. We woke up knowing that for the next several months, the last thing we do at night and the first thing we do in the morning will be checking the internet for news out of a war zone…for word from our son.
We are in the minority: parents, spouses, and friends with a loved one in Iraq. Knowing from experience about the true cost of war, we questioned the justification and execution of this policy before it was popular. We learned first hand about the lack of proper equipment before others read about it in the newspaper. We checked prices for top quality body armor to send our son while the GOP led Congress fiddled. And long before the Walter Reed scandal broke, we followed the aftercare problems facing our troops, their families, and surviving dependents as our son talked about the injured and dead his unit flies out of Iraq.
The truth doesn’t only set you free, it strengthens your resolve to fight for what’s right.
Like many other veterans and military parents, my wife (who served as an Air Force Nurse) and I have borne the burden of far more truth than is typically presented to the general public. We learned about contractor fraud from an auditor I used to fly helicopters with who monitors contracts in Iraq—about the slower than reported progress on Iraqi civil infrastructure projects from a Marine civil engineer who was stationed in Iraq—about our long since discredited intelligence on the war from people on the ground who I worked with during my own 26 year military career. And, as a longtime subscriber to ‘professional’ military publications, I learned years ago that the military has not been quiet about the problems it is facing–you just had to know where to look, and you had to be willing to listen to the experts on the ground.
Now that this information is more public, most Americans disapprove of U.S. policy in Iraq, and are justifiably outraged over the care given to our troops when they come home.
Welcome to our world.
We thank those of you reading this for caring, for working to spread the truth, and for helping to elect a new Congress in 2006 that is fighting for change. That’s what “supporting the troops” is all about, but it is only a beginning.
Representatives like my 2006 opponent John Doolittle are still voting to send people like my son into combat without proper equipment, training, or a plan for success. They are still refusing to make personal sacrifices to support our armed forces, or hold the administration and Iraqi politicians accountable for results instead of rhetoric.
I suppose that’s easy to do as long as it’s someone else’s child fighting and dying, but it is not the American way, and it is certainly not patriotism.
We need good people in the military, and we owe those who serve the benefit of competent civilian leadership, and seamless aftercare when they become veterans. Families like ours know this truth all to well. We know that resolving these issues at a human level is not about having all the answers—it’s about having the right priorities and the courage to ask the right questions.
We are proud of our son and the troops who protect our beloved country. They truly are our best and brightest.
And that’s why Jan and I are as determined as ever to ensure we have a government that cares as much as we do about the safety and success of our men and women in uniform.
Be safe son. And come home soon.
Charlie Brown, Lt. Col. USAF Ret.
—Bill Ritter reporting
Bill Ritter, a political consultant, is a community activist in Davis and Yolo County. He is a past Chair of the Yolo Democratic Party and a past President of the Davis Democratic Club. He is also a former Aide to Congressman Vic Fazio and a former Chair of the City of Davis Human Relations Commission.