Saturday, February 11, 2006

I respond

Joel pens an interesting and thought provoking response on my piece about my grandfather

I came across this blog and this tribute to your grandfather and in many ways, his was a life similar to that of my own father. right down to the fighting on Pacific islands in WW II and working for the USPS after retiring. The thing is, your writing and capturing the spirit and fortitude of the man is beyond measure, far far better than any writing that I could put together to honor my father.Part of my problem is, he bottled all of his war expieriences up, did not convey to us the horrors and death that he witnessed and yet still stood by the government that put him into that situation. I do not want to in any way spoil your tribute by raising the following question and apoligize in advance if it offends you-The magnitude of hurt, injury and death that has been foisted upon young American soldiers, sailors and airmen in the wars from world war one on as shown in your tribute- Has it been worth it for what our Nation has recieved? What I ask is this- has our way of life been improved because of these conflicts? I realize that each war had its own cause and supposed justification. Whole books have been written on the past wars. As the war in Iraq continues on, we, as a people need to have an open, honest discusion as to if we really want our young servicemen/women to suffer as our elders have?

This raises some legit questions. BTW, thanks Joel for the kind words. This piece was written as a tribute to my grandfather and not as a glorification of war. He served with distinction and I’m proud of his record as a soldier and a person.

Were our past military conflicts worth the blood spilled?

In the last 100 years we as a nation have fought in my estimation only two truly justifiable wars. As you might suspect the two biggies, WWI & WWII, are those. In WWI our involvement was spawned by the interception of the Zimmerman Telegram and the sinking of the Lusitania. Keep in mind the Germans were conspiring, by their own admission, with Mexico to form an alliance wherein Mexico would attack Arizona, California, and New Mexico, territory they desperately wanted back, and the Germans would provide arms and cash. With the specter, all be it remote, of a southern invasion supported by Germany we could not sit idly by as those who would destroy our nation set in motion plans to do so. And we all know what a megalomaniacal murdering douche bag Hitler turned out to be, the Nazi shit head.

This leaves at least eight limited and full scale military conflicts this country has entered into without sufficient justification since 1900. Off the top of my head they are: Korea, Vietnam, the shadow war in Nicaragua and El Salvador, Grenada, Panama, the air war in the Balkans, both wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Haiti, not to mention the deployment of troops in 175 countries. Since 1900, the U.S. has lost about 429,000 service men & women in combat, of which approximately 345,000 were fully warranted. Since WWII this country has not fought a single reasonable war. That means, in my opinion, roughly 84,000 of our bravest have perished for a cause that was unjust.

Had we held firm to our isolationist roots in WWI and WWII it’s conceivable that the world would be a dramatically different place today. Imagine the dire consequences had Kaiser Wilhelm II or Adolph Hitler been able to realize their goals of European dominance and capitulation. Had they been allowed to draw upon Europe’s massive man power and cache of natural resources their reigns could have been potentially infinite. And in the case of Hitler, the so-called Final solution may have been realized, the utter annihilation of the Jewish race. Yes WWI made possible the genocide in Armenia, the eventual ascendancy of the communist regimes in Russia, Romania, and elsewhere. And yes, had not Germany’s economy been crippled by war reparations from WWI this proud nation would likely never have embraced the certifiably loony Hitler. And yes, Lenin and Stalin might have never seen the throne in Russia. But it’s hard to imagine the resulting millions killed in dozens of incidents of genocide and war could have possibly been worse than the hell that Wilhelm & Hitler would’ve undoubtedly unleashed on the world. With perhaps very few exceptions these two were the vilest international figures of the 20th century. So in this sense, it was worth every drop of blood spilled to prevent these guys from holding sway over the globe.

The same cannot be said for any military conflict this nation has participated in the last 60 years. Korea and Vietnam were fought to slow the spread of communism with little to no effect. The shadow war in Central America was for the same ill conceived purpose. Panama, Afghanistan, and both Iraq wars were fought to depose leaders we had propped up and supported. The air war over the former Yugoslavia was a function of our planes being assigned to do what the rest of Europe had neither the balls nor stomach for, and those couple hundred students trapped in Grenada needed rescuing. The strategically vital Haiti was and always will be a den of political unrest. What did these wars net…84,000 dead American soldiers; international resentment; the somewhat justified label of the US Imperial Dynasty; billions spent to house over one million soldiers on bases in 175 countries, many of which don’t want us there; and the self-anointed duty of being the moral compass for the entire planet.

Our track record of supporting and turning a blind eye to genocidal regimes is long and inglorious. We didn’t lift a finger to prevent the genocides in Rwanda, currently in Darfur, Uganda, Armenia, the Congo, Croatia, Namibia, Bangladesh, Cambodia (the infamous Killing Fields), Iraq, East Timor, and Tibet. This doesn’t mean that we as a nation are to blame, far from it in fact. It just means our claim at being the arbiters of morality in the world is wholly without credibility.

Having seen the effect that WWII had on my grandfather and others, and knowing literally dozens who’ve served or are currently serving their country I have developed a deep respect and affection for those who make such a sacrifice. Throwing yourself in harms way to protect one’s country is the most inherently noble gesture that one can ever make, and our leaders in DC have been far to aggressive and thoughtless in committing our most precious resource. These impossibly brave youths make it possible for me to sit in blissful comfort in my den typing this piece of convoluted drivel. And for that I give my profound thanks.

In closing I offer up Joel's sentiments as food for thought..."As the war in Iraq continues on, we, as a people need to have an open, honest discusion as to if we really want our young servicemen/women to suffer as our elders have?"