Tuesday, April 12, 2005

General Abizaid Speaks in Chicago

General Abizaid in Chicago on April 12 at the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations at the Fairmont Hotel.

Recently I joined the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations with my wife. We have seen a number of speakers through them so we decided to join to support them more effectively. In previous meetings we saw Hamid Karzai, the elected president of Afganistan, speak, which was very informative.

The General is in charge of the region that includes Afganistan and Iraq. Obviously he is in a very interesting position. There were many questions from the group.

For the most part, the questions were respectful. There were a couple of predictable liberal dopes who asked about Abu Ghraib and followed up but these were in the distinct minority. Some key observations:

  • Over 1.7M US servicemen & women have been on tours through Iraq or Afganistan. The majority of these servicemen & women came away with a favorable impression of their people and were definitely changed by their experience
  • The general felt that the tide of history was in favor of freedom, but that there would be many difficulties along the way. He compared our situation with Europe in 1800's when Napoleon's armies unleashed revolutionary furvor that really only took hold in 1848
  • He said that the Iraqi security forces were doing better and that they were the key to getting the US troops in a secondary role and ultimately out of the country
  • When asked what civilians could do for the military effort, the General said that we could try to employ and support wounded veterans. 1500 US soldiers and sailors have died but many more have been wounded, many with life-changing wounds. This is a powerful call to all of us to reach out and do something to respond to the sacrifices that these young men and women made for our country

I had my hand up the entire time but no one called on me - I wanted to thank the General and give him my support but then to ask him about recent high losses of M1 tanks and about why they don't use cannister (shotgun) ammo in these tanks which are absolutely punishing on unsupported infantry such as we face in the form of the insurgents / terrorists.

Congratulations to the General and keep up the good work!

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