Friday, December 19, 2003

Bush to break military tradition...

... in order to make a political point:

In a move that is increasingly unpopular with some of the nation's military personnel and retired veterans, the Pentagon has decided to award the same campaign medal to those serving in Afghanistan or Iraq. This decision, ultimately taken by politically appointed civilians from the Bush administration, is meant to subtly convey a central -- if increasingly controversial -- tenet of their worldview: that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are part of the same seamless global military fight against terror.

This unfortunate and politically inspired decision breaks sharply with military tradition and does a disservice to veterans of these two impressive military operations.

The problem is that the nature of the enemy and the rationale for war in Afghanistan on the one hand and Iraq on the other are substantially different, and some suspect that the decision on campaign ribbons is just part of a larger effort to blur these distinctions.

What is more, the decision to give the same recognition for service in two dramatically different regions breaks with a long military tradition of recognizing service in specific campaigns based on geography, not the political rationale or overarching ideology of the struggle.

Did the military award different medals in WWII for service in the Pacific and service in Europe?

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