Let me relay to you a conversation that occurred not long after Iraq War I – Desert Storm, but well before America toppled Saddam Hussein: This was told to me by a stand-up guy regarding a talk that he had with a Prince of the royal family of Kuwait. He asked the Prince what he thought of Saddam Hussein. The Prince said that he thought Hussein was a very bad man, but the only man that could rule Iraq and keep it in check. My guy was more than a little surprised to get this answer. My guy pointed out that Saddam Hussein had invaded the Prince’s country, raped its people and destroyed many things of value. The Prince acknowledged the heavy price paid at Hussein’s hands, but reiterated that Saddam Hussein was still the best man for the job for all concerned.
Now let’s go forward to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the others…all of whom could be tried for war crimes in my opinion. They lied about the weapons of mass destruction – there weren’t any. They lied about Muslim Jihadists being supported by Iraq – there were none (at least there weren’t until we showed up). They asked us, the American people, to believe them in this. Most of us did. Our Republican and Democrat representatives told the administration “bombs away.” The Senate voted 77-23 while the House voted 297-133 in favor of the Iraq War Resolution.
I remember watching Colin Powell present the administration’s case to the United Nations. Powell was a man that I respected, and still would like to respect, but he really looked strained and uncomfortable making his argument…the way people look when they are saying something they do not believe, but feel compelled to say it anyway. Whatever his reasons, he supported the wrong cause.
We were told if we didn’t want another imminent 9/11 on our hands that America needed to make a pre-emptive strike against Hussein. From my knowledge of history, virtually all pre-emptive strikes are framed in this manner to justify the action, but the underlying reality is sinister and self serving. We, the People, got swindled by our elected representatives. It was a cowardly act of war – one that will probably shame us forever.
Funny too in that we had unprecedented world support before we turned our guns on Iraq. What a waste of goodwill.
Now I am hearing self righteous sabre rattling from the chicken hawk right. Now I am hearing “we don’t get fooled again” from the progressive left. Now I am hearing we were never fooled and we told you so from the libertarians.
Personally, on the record, I was opposed to our offensive war against Iraq. The subsequent facts reinforced my belief established in the ‘60’s about our government, which is: the only thing I can believe from our government is that I cannot believe our government.
But I am personally troubled because of one pretty significant reality: We did this thing to Iraq. We created this mess. I do not think that this can be disputed.
For your consideration, like it or not, do we have an ethical obligation to clean-up the mess we made even though we were lied to?
Benjamin Franklin said, “Wars are not paid for during wartime, the bill comes later.” Though I am far from an expert on the sectarian issues in Iraq, whether we own up to what we did or not, we will probably be paying that bill forever… one way or another.
Hey Nephew – You’ve been talking about joining the Marines for a long time. As you know, each time that you do, I grimace and then remind you that on my side of the family, we are Air Force men. Your grandfather, your father, and I, your loving uncle, all served honorably in the USAF.
And if you have our aim, you should definitely avoid having anything to do with guns. As your grandfather has pointed out, during his pistol training, trying his hardest, he couldn’t even hit the target. Of course from that, we made note that should he ever go postal, as long as he was aiming at us we should be completely safe.
You joined the Marines and are expected to begin active duty soon, but can decline at any time before your report date.
You did, however, grant me an open ear to dissuade you. And that is what I intend to do. If this doesn’t do it, then I’ll have to come up with a better plan. But if I fail to convince you not to do this thing, I will respect your decision as I have respected the decision of another nephew who previously joined the Army.
I was just old enough to have to register with the draft board during the Vietnam days. I complied. I was very opposed to our involvement in that war. I decided that I would not serve in the military in any capacity and if drafted, I would relinquish my citizenship and move to another country. Conventional wisdom suggests that wars and killing can be “just,” but there was nothing coming close to that in ‘Nam.
It turned out that I was never called to duty, but years later I voluntarily joined the military. I followed orders and did my best to do a good job. If you do decide to join, I know that you will do the same. And under the present circumstances, that’s exactly why I don’t want you to join.
Let me say that I have nothing but respect and gratitude for those serving in America’s armed services. I don’t say that because it is so politically correct to say it. I say it because I have been there.
Here’s the way I see it – If you join the Marines, you will undoubtedly spend time in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Let’s take a very abbreviated look at both:
America invaded Iraq because of the supposed threat of hidden WMD, because of the supposed Al Qaeda presence and because of the supposed threat of Iraq’s future actions against America.
Hitler pointed out that the bigger the lie, the more likely that the people will believe it. Man, he sure was right.
There were no weapons of mass destruction. Al Qaeda wasn’t there. And we did a most un-American thing by making a pre-emptive strike against, at best, a mouse that might roar.
Of course, Al Qaeda is there now – our presence made sure of that.
Of course, we will be enmeshed in Iraq forever.
Frankly Francis score: Unjust War 1 – Just War 0
We very quickly invaded Afghanistan after the despicable acts of terror on September 11, 2001. The “supposed” purpose was to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice and remove the Al Qaeda supporting Taliban. Well almost 10 years later that’s sure worked out swell, wouldn’t you say? It’s at best another forever presence that will accomplish nothing.
Frankly Francis score: Unjust War 2 – Just War 0
Frankly Francis Side Note: And as long as I’ve mentioned our Enemy Number One, Sarah Palin has recently suggested that we hunt down the WikiLeaks front man like Bin Laden. Seriously, or at least as seriously as one can take that statement, that should make the guy feel pretty safe and comfortable…
That’s Not the Worst of It
The number of innocent civilians killed by the U.S. military is staggering. And I say this carefully and with the utmost of respect, but even conservatively, they are so massive that they make the number of innocents lost on 9/11 miniscule in comparison.
Maybe, underneath it all, it is revenge we are seeking…and if so, what is the ratio of other innocent deaths to our innocent deaths that we must achieve? 1:1, 2:1, 5:1, 10:1? We are already far above those ratios. So how many more innocent people must die to avenge our loss?
Perhaps There’s Worse Than That
The innocent civilians that survive American attacks have this nasty tendency to want revenge against us. Thus, our very actions are creating more terrorists. YIKES!
I can only imagine, but it must be very difficult to kill another human being, even if they have it coming. To kill innocent people must make life unbearable.
Your well intentioned uncle knows that you would never choose to suffer the blood of innocents at your own hands. But if you join, at best you will be much closer to that process and at worst, a direct part.
And while I know that innocent casualties occur in any conflict, I can’t help but think that it is worse when the war was not just to begin with.
Again, I’ll respect your decision to join the military, but I urge you to consider my thoughts before you go off to war.
Your Loving Uncle,