The world’s supply of experimental Ebola drug runs dry just as U.S. troops are deployed to West Africa by a commander-in-chief who has never appeared to have much use for the military as an actual military force. He has deployed them there to fight, in all seriousness, the Ebola virus.
A week later, the commander is pictured stepping off Marine One. He offers the Marines guarding him with their lives a lazy half-salute, not even bothering to remove the paper coffee cup from his right hand.
Can one be blamed for wondering if just maybe this president doesn’t like America’s armed forces? Or, perhaps the better question is: How can anyone claim that President Obama has the thinnest shred of respect for America’s warriors when he goes and does something like this?
Of course, he did not plan for the world’s supply of ZMapp to vanish just as he deployed troops into the single most devastating outbreak of Ebola in known history. But the idea that — even with all the real militaristic threats we face around the world — the president chooses to send 3,000 soldiers into Liberia to somehow combat a deadly, highly-contagious virus is beyond explanation.
We are told our soldiers are supposed to train medical personnel. For what, how to use a bayonet?
We are told our soldiers are supposed to help set up new medical facilities. So, we are going to take the finest, most lethally effective military in world history and send them into a petri dish of death to set up tables and cots?
Dear Lord, what an insult.
That would be like sending thousands of troops up the cliffs above Omaha and Utah beaches — to fight the bubonic plague. The Kafkaesque absurdity of it is something that even Franz Kafka could not dream up.
He is, of course, right-handed.
“I was lucky,” he said. “The bird got to me in about 20 minutes.”
How a young man balancing on two metal sprigs can now speak of “being lucky” I will never fully comprehend.
I asked him if he was following all the recent talk of redeploying troops to the Middle East.
His eyes flickered with rage. Then they went vacant. He said he doesn’t follow any of it anymore.
“I just don’t understand why we gave up everything we gained over there,” he said, huffing a little as he sprang from one leg to the next.
He told me that he struggles with being bitter and angry about all of it. The lost territory. His lost legs. All of his lost comrades. He himself was blown up a full three years after the current president was elected on the apparently whimsical promise to end the wars.
He’s got a dog now and he said that helps with the anger and forces him to get around more on his metal legs.
“These work a whole lot better than the first ones I got,” he said.
Also lifting his spirits is that he wants to become a police officer.
“But I got to learn to shoot again,” he said, raising his right hand and straining his index finger, still stripped of flesh nearly to the bone.
“It was a lot of nerve damage.”
These young men and women who volunteer to serve their country and defend our liberty are literally willing to lay down their lives for us and this country. They will even give up half their body and come home talking about how “lucky” they were.
All they ask is that our politicians send them only on missions worthy of their sacrifice.
Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @charleshurt.