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August 28, 2004

Thoughts from Brigadier General Pat Foote (Ret.)

I met BG Foote in Newport News on my day riding the America Can Do Better Bus Tour as a photographer and blogger for the DNC. After hearing her powerful words on the trip, I asked if she would take time out of her busy schedule to share on DocDem some of what she told audiences this past Monday. Thank you, General Foote, for sending this today, and we hope to see more of you here in the future! -Aaron

My name is Pat Foote. I am an Army veteran who served for 30 years, had a tour in Vietnam in 1968, and was privileged to command soldiers at company, battalion, brigade and major installation levels. This past week, I had the wonderful experience of riding with a great group of Americans on the America Can Do Better Bus Tour. I joined the tour at its first stop -- Newport News -- rode on with the tour to Richmond, then had to leave because of other commitments back home in the Kerry-Edwards campaign. I rejoined the tour yesterday for the Harrisburg visit and enjoyed a great reunion with my many new friends as we rallied at the state capitol. It was a day to remember.

Many have asked why I am so actively supporting John Kerry and John Edwards in their campaign to win back the White House. Certainly, I am not doing this as a military officer or for that matter, simply because I am a veteran with deep concerns about how veterans and members of the armed forces are faring in these difficult days. I am acting as a citizen who has a vote and is deeply concerned as well as angered over the direction President Bush and his administration have taken the United States in four short years.


Never would I have believed that we as a nation could act so wrong in so many ways in so short a time. When we suffered the horror of 9/11 and realized how enormously we were being threatened by terrorists who wish us ill, the entire nation and most of the world stood with us in that time of grief and devastation. Going after the Taliban, Osama ben Laden and his Al Quaida organization in Afghanistan was the right action to take. This was the proper employment of our forces, and I think most of the nations of the world stood with us.

But we did not finish the job there. Rather, the Bush administration used these perilous times to divert America's armed forces and its wealth to take out a dictator who, no matter how despicable a tyrant he was, was in no way a direct threat to the United States. And it chose to attack preemptively despite the opposition of the UN and the majority of the world's nations, despite the fact that the UN was continuing its inspections in search of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. We were told such weapons were there, but that was not true, then or now. Despite his declaration of " mission accomplished " when the shooting war in Iraq ended in 2003, that war is far from over, and American casualties continue to mount. We have not been received as liberators; we are viewed by many as occupiers, and since we had no viable plan for what was to happen at the end of the fighting, chaos, insurgencies, attacks on Americans and Iraqi citizens continue. We will be forced to stay the course in Iraq for an unknown number of years, whether our presence is welcome or not..

Other outcomes? An incredible level of national debt. The administration eliminated the very healthy budget surplus bequeathed to it by the outgoing Democratic administration.

Add to that the loss of over one million jobs in the past four years; the outsourcing of many thousands of other jobs; the rising ranks of Americans who live in poverty, who have no health insurance coverage whatsoever, the steady erosion of veterans' benefits as the administration continues to decrement the VA budgets submitted for consideration and the planned closure in full or part of many VA hospitals. Add to that the problems inherent in a too small armed force, stretched to the limits in deployments, relying heavily on the use of Guard and Reserve troops whose extended deployments amount to a backdoor draft which ignores the stresses placed on military families by invoking such ploys.

All in all, I feel so very deeply that we are moving in the wrong direction, incurring the wrath and hatred of the people of the middle east and the growing enmity of those who once were our friends. This is no way to reduce the threat of terrorism.Our national arrogance is a threat to everyone of us..

I want to see the America I love and respect restored: the America that champions human rights, works within a body of nations for the better good of us all; a nation that takes care of its disadvantaged, that builds an economy which supports the working man and woman, educates all children equally, insures that health care for every American is there when needed.

To restore that America, we must elect John Kerry and John Edwards. There would be no finer message to the world that a new day is coming than this. Reject the failed leadership; bring on the new team!

Pat Foote

Posted by amahler at August 28, 2004 07:20 PM

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