Sunday, October 9, 2011

War without Understanding

I’ve played with the title of this blog, beginning with “War without Mission” and substituting a dozen words – comprehension, understanding, purpose, meaning, goal – in place of “mission” and nothing seems to work any better than any single one of them.
by Charlie Leck

As new generations mature and take their place in American politics, the Vietnam War era seems to be fading from America’s memory. And, as history is forgotten new errors are made by those who consider our national involvement in war.

As young people, we marched in the streets protesting America’s involvement in Vietnam in the 60s and the 70s. We, who protested, seemed to understand the internal history of Vietnam better than our national leaders. We clearly saw that the war had no real mission. The war makers said it was to stop communism from spreading throughout Southeast Asia and from there to other parts of the world. They presented incredible scenarios of one nation after another falling to the communist monster. We argued back that communism would devour itself.

When America finally withdrew from Vietnam, defeated and embarrassed, we (the young) thought our nation had finally learned a lesson: War without a mission and a purpose is shear foolishness; and the mission and purpose must be solid and in keeping with the will of the American people. If the will of the people is not strong and based on their understanding of the war, the war will fail utterly.

Today in Iraq, that nation’s Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki has sided with the nation of Iran is supporting the government of Syria against its activisit, democratic protestors.

“We believe that Syria will be able to overcome its crisis through reforms,” Maliki said. He rejected American calls for Bashar al-Assad to step down. Even while most other Arab states are reducing relations with Assad, Iraq and Iran have moved in the other direction.

Mind you, this is a nation into which we have poured over a trillion dollars during our current war and rebuilding program with them. We’ve lost many hundreds of young men and women there and thousands have come home with life-long disabilities to their bodies and minds.

Remember the purpose of the war with Iraq – the mission – the goal – the purpose! Long faded from mind, we went there because we were told a big lie. Vice President Cheney and President George W. Bush convinced most Americans that Iraq was replete with weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Somehow, even though it proved false, the war went on and on and on.

We went to Afghanistan to retaliate for the terrorist destruction of American property and life (9/11). Even when it was clear that we could not find Osama bin Laden in the mountains of Afghanistan and that he probably was in Pakistan, the war lingered on and on and on (without purpose or mission). Today, after horrendous loss of life and limb, we search for ways to extract ourselves from the embarrassment of that war.

America had only a vague understanding of the cultures and values of these two countries. We had no ability to predict what the will of the people might be. Vice President Cheney predicted that the Iraqis would welcome us as great liberators. Of course, they did not. And the Afghanistan citizens today look at us in wonder – wondering what the hell we are doing there.

The wisest move regarding war that was made by an American President since 1941 was President Obama’s decision not to put American military boots on the ground in Egypt. Instead, he insisted the military involvement there had to be led by our allies or there would be none.

The first President Bush
War without a clear mission is foolishness! That was the stance of the first President Bush and he held to it firmly and kept us out of a messy involvement in Iraq years before his son finally led us into trouble.

Now we are engaged in two missionless, purposeless wars in Arab nations that we simply do not understand. And for all our troubles, Iraq’s ruling political leader has today slapped us squarely across the face.


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1 comment:

  1. Well put! What will it take for the American public to say enough is enough? More slaps in the face?