RUSH: General John Abizaid, our four-star in Iraq, was on the Newshour with Jim Lehrer last night, and was trying to explain how the training of Iraqis to protect their own country is going very well and incredibly fast, and some of his answers — we have three bites from Abizaid. It’s amazing to hear, I guess somewhat surprise and disbelief in Lehrer when listening to Abizaid’s answers. First question from Jim Lehrer — he says, “Why is that going so slowly, building the military institution for the Iraqis?”
ABIZAID: Where I sit, I think it’s going remarkably well, and I look at what General Petreus and General Casey have accomplished both in terms of setting a security environment that was conducive to elections and at the same time building a more robust and capable Iraqi security service. I actually think it’s been a phenomenal success. If I look to our own history and I look to the Revolutionary War, and I see how long it took our forces to develop, how many bumps on the head we had to take before we were successful, I’m actually encouraged that the Iraqis are moving in a pretty good direction.
RUSH: Now, Lehrer can’t believe this. He can’t believe that Abizaid is optimistic. He says, “You’re optimistic about this?”
ABIZAID: I’m very optimistic about it. I’m optimistic that at the end of the day, the Iraqi armed forces will emerge as one of the best trained and equipped armed forces in the Middle East.
LEHRER: When will that be?
ABIZAID: One that will be loyal to the political leadership. One that will serve the people as opposed to what the previous Iraqi services did, which is feed upon the people.
RUSH: Next question from Jim Lehrer to General John Abizaid, “American Scholar, which is the magazine of the Phi Beta Kappa society, had an article recently which made the point that those 1,500 Americans who were dying, 11,000 who have been wounded, are not from the elite families of America, they’re from the families that are out there. There are no senator’s sons; there are no CEO’s sons, all that kind of milieu that used to be part of the US military; does that concern you, general?”
ABIZAID: Well, I can’t speak for the senators, and I can’t speak for anybody else. I can only speak for the three four-star generals that were testifying in front of the committee today, and every one of us had very, very close relatives personally involved in fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan at one point or another. And if you think we’re not connected, if you think the American people are not connected, it might be true that portions of the elite are not connected, but the rest of us are. I believe that very deep down.
RUSH: This line of questioning just infuriates me. Once again it is a way to — what does that do? It insults the troops that volunteer and who are there. And they’re trying to just nitpick this and suggest that this is unjust and it shouldn’t be going on because the sons and daughters of the elites aren’t there. What does this matter? It’s a volunteer force. You know what? Here’s the subtext of this, and I told this to the troops over there, when I was in Afghanistan. I’ll answer this by telling you exactly what I told them standing before them in Kandahar, Kabul, up at Harat, and I said, “I don’t know what kind of news that you’re hearing here, what kind of news that you see regularly, but there are people in America, and they’re a minority, and I don’t want you to be concerned about this, do not think they represent anywhere near a majority or even 50% of the country’s thinking, but there are still people — and they get amplified by certain elements of the media who are critical of some of you — well, they’re not really critical of you, but what they do is try to suggest that you really wouldn’t be here unless you had to be, that you have no other way out of poverty or you have no other way out of dire economic circumstances, except to join the US military.”
And I told them I recoil when I hear this because it’s a blindsided insult of all of you who are volunteering to go over here knowing full well why you’re coming, and you want to be here. I told them I love and respect you for that. You’re doing things that 99% of the American people including the elites wouldn’t volunteer to do, and I said sometimes when these people call me and suggest this on the radio show, and I told them I get calls all the time from people who said, “Come on, Rush, you praise the troops, it’s easy to do, but be honest about it, most of them are there because they have to be, because they have no other way out of poverty or the barrio or the ghetto or whatever, it’s the only way they can get an education, it’s the only way that they can get any kind of health care, it’s because they don’t have it, and they have to join the military.”
I said let’s just accept the premise. I don’t, but for the sake of discussion, let’s accept the premise that you are here because you have to be, it’s the only way out of just an unlivable life in America. Even if that’s true, which it isn’t, look at what you — I said to them — are willing to do for your opportunity. No matter how you slice it, I said to them, you all are heroes, you all are to be applauded, you all are a cut above the elites, you’re a cut above the average, because whatever it takes, you are doing it, you are volunteering. Who cares the reason? You’re here! And you are doing your duty, and you believe in it. And I said, now, that’s how I answer these people on the phone, but I don’t believe that that’s even a majority. I don’t think that the vast majority of the people here in this audience, I say to them, are here to escape something in the United States and to try to get an opportunity, but even if you are, so what, look what you’re willing to do.
I think no matter how you slice it, it’s a credit to you, and I’m here to tell you, they appreciated hearing it, and they don’t appreciate hearing this kind of rotgut from something called the American Scholar, which is the magazine of the Phi Beta Kappa society. It’s not at all what’s in their minds over there. This notion that you still have to nitpick and you still have to find fault. Why can’t these people simply step back, take a look at the people who are volunteering to wear the uniform and place themselves in harm’s way and simply respect them, and simply give them their due? Why do they have to go poke holes at them? Why do they have to question their motivation? Why do they have to question their inspiration? It infuriates me. For those of you in Rio Linda, that means it makes me mad. And this is one of the many reasons that I wanted to go and have wanted to go for a year and a half on a troop visit, because I don’t know what they’re hearing over there. Well, I do now but I didn’t before I got there. They get some of this stuff but they don’t get a lot of it, thank goodness. But I wanted to go put it all in perspective and be straight with them about what all of us in this country actually think about them and feel for them.
RUSH: We’ll go to Fort Huachuca, in Arizona. Hi, Chip. Welcome to the EIB Network.
CALLER: Mega dittos, Mr. Limbaugh. How you doing?
RUSH: Fine, sir. Thanks very much.
CALLER: I just wanted to call in regards to the comments you’re making that some folks like to claim the only reason people join or stay in the military is because they essentially have nowhere else to go, and to be honest with you that’s incredibly insulting to the folks that choose to stay in uniform.
RUSH: Yeah, let me ask you, because I can tell you, I asked a bunch of these guys over there and I mentioned this a lot to them. I wanted to take their temperature over in Afghanistan, and I got a number of different answers as to why they’re there, but there was one that stuck out, and I want to ask you why did you join? Are you still in?
CALLER: I sure am, yeah.
RUSH: Okay, why did you join the Army, the military?
CALLER: Honestly I initially joined because I needed college money, but doesn’t really matter whether you join, it’s why most people stay in, that’s because of a sense of accomplishment and duty and love of country that people stay in.
RUSH: That’s what I heard. I can’t tell you, we’ve got some pictures up on the website of one of the C-130 — well, we’ve got two of the C-130 crews that flew us around over there — and we had a lot of time to talk on these flights from one place to another in Afghanistan —
CALLER: Sure. It’s not a very fast airplane, that’s for sure.
RUSH: Well, it does 300 true. I mean, it’s better than a push cart on the ground.
CALLER: (Laughing.) That’s true.
RUSH: These guys love the Herc. They think it’s the greatest plane going for what they have to do.
CALLER: It’s a great airplane. It’s just if you’re going long distances it takes longer than some of the others.
RUSH: That’s true, but I mean the longest flight we had was two hours.
CALLER: That’s not bad.
RUSH: Plus, I was up in the cockpit. I wasn’t sardined down there in the truck cargo compartment with the rest of the plebes. So I understand, no windows in it, I understand it was — in fact, it’s a funny little story, when we lost the engine coming out of Kandahar trying to get to Bagram Air Force Base we did 360s up there for eight minutes at 8,000 feet and went back and landed, and some of the people thought we’d already arrived in Harat, they had no clue what had happened. When I told them, “Oh, we lost an engine, there were fire trucks out there when we land and everything,” their mouths fell open. But no, I asked these guys why are you there? “I’m here for my family. This is how I’m defending my country.”
CALLER: Well, a neat story Rush. I am an instructor, and post-9/11 we’re certainly getting a lot of different people joining than used to be and it’s because of patriotism and reaction to it but the best story I had was that a student of mine who had been born in China and didn’t move to the United States until he was 15, and part of the beginning of the class we’d go around and ask everybody why he joined the Army, and his answer was he felt he had an obligation to protect the freedom he never had a chance to enjoy growing up in China.
RUSH: Yeah, doesn’t surprise me. it’s a great, great, great story. But, you know, I heard there’s just a common refrain when I talk to these guys, in fact one of them, one of these, one of the members of the C-130 flight crew was telling me that he has two brothers, and they’re doing extremely well in real estate and finance, and they’re always, “What are you doing over there?” He’s reservist ? “What are you doing? Why don’t you come home?” He said, “Look, you guys, right now this is what I think is the best thing I can doing for my family.” And they respected that, he said, and so forth, but I mean that was a common answer that I got. And I believed them. I believed them. Folks, there’s no other reason to go over there. Even if it is an escape from whatever circumstances here, you get caught up in it. I got caught up in it. They were all inspiring to me.