Living in New York as I do, I must confess that sometimes what happens in the rest of the country escapes my notice. Oh, I’m not talking about the rape of the Alaskan wilderness by Big Oil, or the dumping of radioactive waste in Nevada, snowmobiles in Yosemite or Creationist teachings in the South…after all, it’s hard to ignore blatant stupidity for fun and profit. What I mean is that sometimes some of the players have passed under my Liberal Radar Screen. Like Duncan Hunter.
Mr. Hunter, a 24 year veteran of Congress and Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, who represents San Diego with it’s massive Naval installations- a very military district- is currently the Republican fly in the ointment that’s keeping the President’s Intelligence Bill stalled in the House. Mr. Hunter, as far as I can gather, has two main objections to the proposed Bill…it would first of all give the Pentagon insufficient budgetary control over any Intelligence Operations. This is nothing more than your typical Washington budget turf war and by even Mr. Hunter’s assessment will be or already has been worked out. The second issue that worries Hunter is that any proposed director of national intelligence could over ride Pentagon efforts to deliver spy satellite Intel directly to commanders on the ground, a more esoteric yet practical chain of command issue.
Why does this make me respect Mr. Hunter? Well, in itself it doesn’t, except for the fact that our current Commander in Chief and his crew have proved themselves to be so inept when it comes to military matters that anything they think up is immediately suspect, and anyone who slows them down has my vote. This current Wartime Administration, so completely populated by men who never served a day of military service, really does have no business running a war. Think about it, Tom DeLay, Dennis Hastert, Bill Frist, Trent Lott, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and a host of other Republicans who today are either this country’s war policy makers or their champions never wore a uniform. Some of them, most notably Dick Cheney and John Ashcroft, actively avoided military service by managing to get a dozen deferments between them.
Donald Rumsfeld, that sparkling example of military prowess and the author of our highly successful Iraq strategy did indeed serve…3 years during peacetime teaching pilots how to fly and George W. Bush…well, we’ve already covered his stellar service record of keeping the bars and skies of Texas free of North Vietnamese fighters until the pressure grew so great that he just had to get away for a well deserved rest.
What does make me respect Mr. Hunter is not only did he serve in Vietnam as a decorated Army Ranger but his son is a Lieutenant currently serving in Iraq. So despite the fact that in peacetime Mr. Hunters Congressional voting record is one that would make me regard him as a Conservative Christian, pro Big Business, anti Civil Rights Right Wing toady, he is at the moment one of the few Republicans in control of military matters that actually has any military experience, a rare commodity these days in Washington as we’ve seen.
Once again, don’t get me wrong…I’m am not necessarily anti war in all cases; sometimes you just gotta do it, like Bosnia and Afghanistan. ( I know, Afghanistan under George W. Bush has made America the biggest Narco Trafficker in the world, which proves my point about the Bush Administrations policies, but that’s another story…the Taliban in 2001 really had to go.) I am certainly against the debacle in Iraq as I’m sure Mr. Hunter is not, but at least he understands war and has a highly personal investment in it. I can’t believe he would blithely waste our troops knowing that the life he loses may be his own sons. Therefore, if we have to be in this stupid war we might as well have a person who has both served in a stupid war (Vietnam) as a young man and has a son fighting in one today.
I respect our military to the nth degree…any man or woman who serves honorably should be treated with honor, not as nameless ‘troops’ to be wasted in an unnecessary fight to secure oil fields or for revenge. While I suspect that Mr. Hunter views America’s military as an arm of foreign policy in a way that I never would, at least he has a stake in Military matters that the Bush Administration never will, except as a political strategy. Once we’re out of Iraq, then I’ll happily excoriate him but until then…go Hunter.