The following was published in The Salem News on June 23rd:
Sitting in the Kuwaiti desert in March 2003, I didn’t know much. But as a member of the 1st Marine Division, I had been told in no uncertain terms: “You will be attacked with chemical weapons before you reach Baghdad.” As an infantry platoon commander, I knew that my unit would be one of the first to get hit. So, I was anxious for our chemical suits to arrive.
They came in a few days before the invasion. When we put the suits on, we were swimming in sweat. They were hot, they were heavy, they smelled awful. And they were green.
The Pentagon was so unprepared for the invasion that they sent an entire division gear that was meant for woodland fighting, which made us easy targets in the endless expanse of light brown sand. Thinking about the next country on the Bush-Cheney “Axis of Evil,” we joked that the government was saving our desert gear for Korea.
The next year, we had to weld sheet metal onto the sides of our Humvees because Congress and the Department of Defense couldn’t send us the armor we needed, and people were getting killed as a result. That’s when we stopped joking.
George W. Bush and Dick Cheney didn’t just send us the wrong gear. They sent us to the wrong country. They sent us to the wrong war. Now, with the situation in Iraq rapidly deteriorating, and veterans like myself watching as hard-fought gains — paid for with American lives — fall into the hands of terrorists, Dick Cheney has a message for us: It’s all Obama’s fault.
Cheney, like many in Washington, hasn’t spent a day in combat. He hasn’t been shot at by insurgents. He hasn’t seen men and women killed due to poor decision-making in his White House or in his Congress. Worse, he lied about intelligence to justify sending troops to Iraq in the first place.
As a veteran who served four tours of duty in Dick Cheney’s misinformed war, it doesn’t make it any easier to hear him so ignorantly declare that “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.” With all due respect to the former vice president: This mess is yours.
Cheney would like us to believe that the unraveling of Iraq — and it does appear to be coming apart, much to the dismay of those like me who fought to keep the nation together — will be Obama’s legacy. In reality, the current situation in Iraq, and Cheney’s response to it, will form the backbone of Cheney’s own legacy: a generation of politicians so out of touch, so self-serving, that they sent thousands of Americans to die in Iraq and then rushed to place blame on anyone but themselves when their own policies failed.
Cheney’s outburst is the latest example of both Washington’s warped priorities and its refusal to take responsibility for any of the consequences. A Washington that allows people like Cheney to rise to the pinnacle of power while some of the bravest and brightest minds of our generation die in the desert, in green camouflage. A Washington that is broken. That’s why we need new leaders. We need people who understand the true costs of war, and who won’t throw American lives away. We need people who are willing to put the bickering aside and get to work. The stakes are too high; we have too much to do. It’s time for a new generation of leaders. Thank you, Mr. Cheney, for reminding me what I’m fighting for.
Seth Moulton is a Salem resident, four-tour Marine Corps veteran, and candidate for U.S. Congress in Massachusetts’ 6th District.
Read the full article here.