I’m visiting my old home town (Las Vegas) and a friend invited me to join his Monday lunch group. My old friend is a Republican sort, but not rabid with political opinions one way or the other. Sports and local banking gossip are what we talk about.
However, his lunch group being primarily Democrats, he thought it would be a kick to thrown me in the mix. My friend made mention of the other two at the table’s political leanings as I shimmied into the booth.
A little idle political chit-chat would be fun I thought. I forget sometimes that there are people who actually take politics seriously–very seriously.
One of the lunch group was once a US congressman and certainly was as polite and charming as you expect an ex-politician to be. However, the other gentleman that was squeezed into the hotel coffee shop booth with us was, I would soon find out, spoiling for a fight.
I’m always eager to ask Obama supporters about war. After all, didn’t Obama campaign on the idea that he would bring the troops home? The left, if anything, is supposed to be against war. I always expect the president’s supporters to stammer, blush and be embarrassed that their president has essentially extended Bush’s foreign policy. So I lobbed the war question at the two democrats just to see what kind of reasoned, considered response I might get from two elders of the democratic party in Nevada.
“That’s a lie,” the democrat shouted in response. “You sit down here and the first thing you say isn’t true.” He turns to the ex-congressmen, “Don’t let him get away with that. The President ended the war in Iraq, and he’s ending the war in Afghanistan. This guy is saying things that aren’t true.”
I’m stunned, as is my friend.
“Are you sure we have no troops in Iraq?”
“No troops. That war is over.”
The ex-congressman interjected quietly, “There may be 2,000 troops there.”
“Then the wars not over,” I said.
“What’s the matter with you?”
“We have troops stationed in 100 counties, why doesn’t Obama bring them all home.”
BTW, that might be something that a Nobel Peace Prize winner would do. After all the Nobel committee awarded the prize to Obama, “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
“You’re blaming the president for your guy’s war.”
I forgot we only get two choices–R or D. If you’re not a D you must be an R. But this is so confusing because these Ds are acting like Rs. I’m neither, but these guys can’t imagine someone isn’t a D or an R.
“Don’t blame us anarchists for the wars.”
“By your definition, no wars have ended because we always leave troops behind.”
The conversation was soon calmed down and diverted into other less controversial areas.
“I forgot some people take politics seriously,” I said to my friend.
“It’s damn serious,” muttered my foil from across the booth.
This morning I see that right-wing rag The Huffington Post reports,
In a grim marker of the human cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Pentagon reported Monday that active-duty American troops were hospitalized in the United States at three times the peacetime rate — with mental health injuries comprising the largest category.
The report on the war wounded comes as the Pentagon acknowledged Monday that the Afghan war is far from over. In its semi-annual report to Congress, the Pentagon said that Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgents “remain resilient and determined and will likely attempt to regain lost ground and influence through continued assassinations, intimidation, high profile attacks and the emplacment or improvised explosive devices.”
The Huff Post says there are still 66,000 troops in Afghanistan, and again, the war is far from over.
Al Jazerra reports,
According to new CENTCOM figures given to Al Jazeera on April 30, there are about 125,000 US troops in close proximity to Iran: 90,000 soldiers in/around Afghanistan on Operation Enduring Freedom; some 20,000 soldiers deployed ashore elsewhere in the Near East region; and a variable 15-20,000 afloat on naval vessels.
Anti-war.com reports that the president’s Syria Policy comes dangerously close to “Bush Doctrine.”
As for Iraq, reports of death and violence are received from there each and every day.
I felt a little bad for causing the disruption, so I picked up the check. It’s nothing compared to my share of the cost of the Peace Prize winner’s wars.