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Bush Bears the Biggest Burden? Do You Agree With Cheney?

This story doesn't need a lot of preface — the quote speaks pretty loudly for itself. On ABC News last night, Vice President Dick Cheney said this of the milestone 4,000 US deaths in Iraq, and the burden faced by military families:

"The president carries the biggest burden, obviously. He's the one who has to make the decision to commit young Americans, but we are fortunate to have a group of men and women, the all-volunteer force, who voluntarily put on the uniform and go in harm's way for the rest of us."

Cheney was then asked about the phenomenon of multiple redeployments as part of the "stop-loss" strategy calling into question the "all-volunteer" portion of his statement. After some prickly back-and-forth Cheney said, "Look, there are a lot of people out there, Martha, that don't agree with me about a lot of things, but if I wanted to be loved, I'd ought to be a TV correspondent, not a politician."

Well. He will be looking for a job in January. . .

Does Cheney make a valid point?


Join The Conversation
stephley stephley 9 years
I wouldn never say if you don't serve you don't care - that would separate me from my own family. And 81,000 was a pre-surge figure. I do take issue with any politician who rhapsodyzes about military service but declined to serve during wartime. And I may have misinterpreted several comments, but they seem to suggest that soldiers who object to double and triple redeployments or stop-loss orders should have read the fine print more carefully. If we're going to ask such terrific sacrifices of others, we should be more compassionate, and demand much more support for them from the politicians who pitched the war to begin with.
nicachica nicachica 9 years
i'd be interested in hearing some service members and their families/friends chime in on what they think of Cheney's comments... we can argue till the sun comes up but unless any of us have been in the position of going to war, we'll never know the true burden it places on us and our families.
sophia_HL sophia_HL 9 years
I think those that carry the biggest burden are those who are seriously disfigured in the line of duty. We know how well veteran's hospitals operate. One could say he carries the biggest burden, or closer to the truth, he has made his bed and now he must lie in it.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Well I don't think we can fault people for not serving, obv. its not the easiest job and its certainly not meant for everyone. Cheney never served, ok... but neither did Obama or Hillary and people think they have good ideas to bring to the table. Probably the majority of people who voted for the war 5 years ago don't have military service, I don't think that discounts their opinions or viewpoints entirely. In an ideal world, yes it would be that the people making these choices had served. But to say that if you don't serve you don't care about a soldiers life is not fair.
stephley stephley 9 years
It's not generals thinking up ways to ruin people's lives: one of my most important memories is of listening to family friend who survived the Bantan death march. He said no one hates war like a soldier, and I believe that is true of the majority of real soldiers. Sadly, I don't think politicians think as carefully about sending other people to fight battles that they failed to win diplomatically. Again, during Vietnam, Cheney had 'other priorities' and didn't fight; apparently, spreading democracy only became important to him later in life. And as for people who sign up and then try to get out, I know about them too. Being a hardass is cool until someone gets hurt, being promised college money sounds great until you discover what you have to do to earn it. In general, I'd rather they get out then be put in a position where someone's life depends on them. But that doesn't make it easier to hear people say 'you knew it could happen when you signed the contract' when someone is sent back to war a third time or going home is delayed again.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Steph - While 81,000 is a fair amount of people, its still only 6% of active duty military. Thats only active duty, not counting reserves. The media would love for us to believe that this happens more often than not, but it's just not true. And I was using arab linguists as an example, obv. there are other jobs that get extended as well. I'm not going to disagree with you about the stresses it puts both th soldier and their family under, but I don't think the military consists of Generals that just sit around thinking about how they can ruin people's lives and I don't think people get stop lossed just on a whim. As for being blase... well I meet people every day who signed up, in war time, and then do everything in their power to get out of deploying, hows that for blase?
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
Bush had always carried a huge burden and has worked hard his entire life to get where he is now. Nothing was handed to him and I think that his strength and fortitude are a beacon for all future leaders. NOW can I get out of Guantanamo Bay please?
stephley stephley 9 years
yikes, didn't mean to double it.
stephley stephley 9 years
You'll recall that Cheney told a Washington Post reporter that he 'had other priorities' to explain why he didn't serve in Vietnam. As a knee-jerk liberal generally pacifist member of a multi-generational military family I will never understand how people can claim they support the military but SEEM to shrug off issues like extending tours. More than 81,000 personnel have been affected by stop-loss orders since 9/11/01 in Afghanistan and Iraq. That's clearly a lot more than Arab linguists. Lengthening tours raises the physical and psychological risk to the soldier and the stress on his or her family. To say you knew it was possible when you signed up seems awfully blase to me; if there isn't enough support for the war to staff it properly for the duration, maybe we shouldn't start it.
Matdredalia Matdredalia 9 years
Bush may, ultimately, be the one who has to live with what he's done for the rest of his life. But as for the pain it causes and the burden it places upon ones shoulders... Our Service Men & Women and their families are bearing this weight in ways not even imagine. When Bush sends Jenna & Barbara to war, then Cheney can whine about Bush bearing the largest burden. Until then, this war is on the backs of our soldiers and their families. And I don't just mean those that are currently serving in Iraq. I'm referring to those serving in Iraq, the 4,000 who lost their lives, and even the ones who've come home. Because even the ones who've gotten to come home can never forget and will suffer for the rest of their lives. There are days when I can't decide who infuriates me more, Bush or Cheney. Just reading Cheney's load of BS has me ready to punch someone.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
The people who get stop lossed typically are those with very specialized skills (ie. Arab linguists), these are also the people who get the biggest reenlistment bonuses. Not saying that they should take their money and be quiet, just saying that there are benefits and detriments to being in high demand.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
First of all yes if you voluntarily join the armed forces one of the understandings is that you may not leave the military alive. As for Georgie bearing the hardest burden, not so sure about that. Who really knows what goes on in a Presidents head when he/she knows that their sending people to their deaths. Personally, I would be a basket case and crying like a baby but if it must be done it must be done. Political disagreement aside I'm not going to begrudge Georgie his humanity. I'm sure that on some psycho-emotional level there is a toll for him as well, but I really can't justify saying that it is a greater toll than a mother burying her child. As for the Militarys stop loss insurance plan I don't think that it should be brought to bear with such a broad brush. Everyone has their limits emotionally, psychologically and otherwise and the issue should be dealt with sensitively on a case by case basis. I certainly don't want some one out there running around with a weapon if their going to snap on me.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
3M, I agree. These people did volunteer and the possibility of being redeployed and/or stop lossed is clearly stated in their contract. Some can still argue against the stop loss policy, saying it is unjust, but these people still volunteered.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
Thank you for the clarification Cabaker.
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 9 years
The President has more distance from the human aspect of the war. While I know that he does meet with and talk to family members of soldiers, it's not the same as having that soldier be your child, your spouse, or your parent. The President is more involved in the political aspects of the war (at least I would like to think so) and I don't think he would be able to do his job if he was that heavily invested in the human side.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
Additionally, as I should have stated this above and my apologies for not, as I spoke about the burden carried by those in our armed forces, I also meant to include the friends, families and all others affected by those who serve for us. It is a burden carried by many people in many ways.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Just to be clear, multiple deployments are not the same as stop loss. Stop loss refers to when a soldiers contract is up and the gov't retains them because they need them for another deployment or job. While unpleasant, this is in the conract that they all sign and it doesn't happen very often.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
I think this is kind of a weird thing to be arguing just in the sense there are a lot of sides and angles to who carries what burden. I believe there is a huge burden on Bush's shoulders for having to make the decisions he has made, but I would in no way, means, shape of form diminish the burden carried by those in our armed forces. I believe this is a burden carried by many, in different ways and means and should be reflected as such. "If you're forcing multiple deployments on people, can you really claim they're volunteers?" - After people have enlisted, they may be forced into many different situations that may not have been originally anticipated when they initially enlisted. Whether or not someone agrees with the decision, they still volunteered for the duty. This can be argued back and forth, and I'm sure we'll see it below, but it does not change that our military is a volunteer military.
ALSW ALSW 9 years
I think that while he does carry some of the burden, the majority of the burden would be on those who are living daily with a family member, friend, or loved one overseas. They see and feel the consequences of this war everyday in their personal lives.
annebreal annebreal 9 years
Ugh...NO, the figurehead does not carry the strongest burden of 4,000 dead, their families and the families of the troops still deployed and redeployed do. He might carry the strongest burden on his conscience - he should anyway - but that's another thing altogether.
stephley stephley 9 years
She wasn't asking if he was making the statement to be popular, the question is, if you're forcing multiple deployments on people, can you really claim they're volunteers? His answer was a stupid dodge.
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