Looking back at some of my older stuff, I found a gloomy post from September 2007 predicting we’d never leave Iraq, that it’d turn out to be another Korea with American troops on the ground forever and ever. I really believed this at the time. Actually I believed it right up until last week.
A few days ago Rachel Maddow reported on Obama’s meeting with Hamid Karzai and the new timetable for American withdrawal from Afghanistan. In my best know-it-all voice I told Donna talk of withdrawal was a charade and we’d merely give occupying forces another name, like advisors, leaving them right were they are, just like Iraq. And then Rachel said there weren’t any American troops or advisors in Iraq, and I decided I’d better check my assumptions. In news I somehow filtered out at the time, we in fact pulled our last troops out of Iraq in December 2011, after the Iraqis refused to sign a status of forces agreement guaranteeing legal immunity for American soldiers. That’s all it took. We’re outta there.
Now it seems Karzai, like the Iraqis, won’t commit to a guarantee of immunity for American forces in Afghanistan, and suddenly we’re talking about a total withdrawal from his hellhole of a country. Sometime soon. Damn, I hope so! Hamid, stick to your guns so we can leave.
So what happened to the troops who left Iraq? Are they still in uniform or were they mustered out? What about the troops who’ll be coming home from Afghanistan? According to this site, there were 1,411,287 men and women in the US military in 2004. In 2011, the year we pulled out of Iraq, we had 1,468,364 people in uniform, a slight increase. The numbers for 2012 aren’t available yet, but I haven’t heard of any military drawdown, have you?
At some point, minus the need for American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US military will have to draw down. When it does, hundreds of thousands of newly unemployed adults will flood the civilian job market. So here’s the next question: where are the jobs?
Perhaps that question explains why there hasn’t yet been a drawdown, in spite of the fact we left Iraq over a year ago. So far no one in the media is talking about this potentially huge problem, but it must be obvious to political and military leaders. How long can we keep these young people employed on active duty if we’re not fighting wars or occupying nations, if there’s no obvious military mission for them to perform? How long before the public starts to look upon the military as a welfare & jobs program, and start demanding cuts?
I was wrong about Iraq. I may be wrong about this. I hope so.
On to personal stuff.
I called my orthopedic surgeon in December to schedule my first knee surgery. They said it’d be on the 6th of February. Since then I’ve heard nothing. I called yesterday and left a message. Still waiting. Damn, I hope I wasn’t wrong about that, too! I can’t wait to get my knees fixed and get back to a more active life, walking and bicycling. I hate being a slug.
Two winters ago we had a hard freeze. Our outside pipes froze and broke and I had to turn off water to the house until I was able to get the parts to fix them … it took four days. The manifold in our pool heater cracked at the same time because I’d foolishly left the pool pump off that night … we’ve been without a pool heater ever since. This year I wrapped the outside pipes in old beach towels and even put a cardboard box over the one exposed pipe and faucet that’s not up against the house. Just in time, too … we’ve been in a week-long cold snap with temps down to 20°F every night. So far the pipes are okay. Every night I leave a trickle of water running in the kitchen sink. The pool pump’s on a timer set to run from 8 PM to 8 AM. I may even wrap extra towels around the pipes today. Once bitten twice shy, amirite?
In spite of the cold my buddy Ed wants to go motorcycle riding. I hope to put him off to Thursday or Friday, when daytime highs should get into the 50s again. I’m such a pussy!
Discovered to our horror that Netflix streaming didn’t have the second season of Downton Abbey, so we switched to Amazon streaming, which does. But the free back episodes of Breaking Bad we watched on Netflix are not free on Amazon. And they wonder why people illegally download movies and shows from bit torrent sites!
I’m cooking tonight. Let’s hear it for chili mac!
© 2013, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.