Day Two - Fresno, CA
The asked him all about the tour and what we were doing. Buzz gave them the run down. They asked what we hoped to accomplish and why we were doing the tour. Buzz told him they we are trying to raise public consciousness about the true goings on of the war and to raise public awareness that Iraq is part of the global war on terror. He also told them that we want people to understand the need to get behind General Patreus.
I will say that maybe this is an aspect of our trip which I feel we might be overlooking or not concentrating on enough. We talk a lot about the surge and how that has been helping to slowly change the tide, and that we should give the surge a chance to work. But I think people need to understand that the ‘surge’ was only part of the new strategy in Iraq. When General Patreus took over in Iraq his MAIN innovation in actually was not so much the 20,000 extra troops but a new strategy that focuses on counter-insurgency tactics.
This is important because the rhetoric of the Harry Reid , Murtha, and to some extent Tom DeLay (based on some of his comments) suggests that that 20,000 extra troops is just like throwing more money at a broken system. They draw an analogy to an issue like healthcare. The basic premise is that our healthcare system is “broken” and that each year congress proposes higher budgets and throws more money at the system, but that money gets wasted because of the systemic problem within. This is a very real problem. What this analogy leaves out however, is that General Patreus is a counter-insurgency expert.
Patreus’s new strategy for Iraq is both a surge in the troops and a NEW STRATEGY. It directly addresses the systemic problems that held a chokehold on the military’s previous operations. Patreus trained South Vietnamese in the 1960s and now he directing the training of Iraqi army and police in Iraq. He is an expert in counter insurgency because the Vietcong in South Vietnam WAS an insurgency. Patreus also TAUGHT counter-insurgency at Westpoint. This man ‘wrote the book’ on dealing with an internal insurgency as Buzz has related to me.
The reporters interviewing Buzz also asked what he expected Patreus’s report to say when it is delivered sometime before or on September 15th. Buzz said he expects to hear that the situation is radically improved and that we owe it to our troops and Iraqis to give it a shot.
On one last, lighter note one of the attendees at this Fresno rally had a VERY interesting vehicle which he proudly displayed for all the wide-eyed onlookers. We were all beginning to pack up at the conclusion of the rally and suddenly I hear the Battle Hymn of the Marine Corps…but where was it coming from. I turned around and here comes this wild looking car plastered with stickers and lettering. Its blasting out the Hymn and my brain starts working, dusting off old files way back, and finally I remember SOME of the words, as the hymnal comes to a close… “you will find us on the job, the United States MARINES!”
There are pictures and the Daily File Blog has updates daily, sometimes more than once a day, so keep up over there to see how the caravan is doing in each of their 27 stops across the country.