Posts tagged ‘war’

Time to Fish or Cut Bait

KAJAKI, AFGHANISTAN - OCTOBER 08: U.S. Marine SSgt. Dan Gracia (L) of New York City and Sgt. Louis Rosas of Santa Barbara, CA, attached to India Battery Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, patrol near Forward Operating Base (FOB) Zeebrugge on October 8, 2010 near Kajaki, Afghanistan. The Marines of India Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment are responsible for securing the area around the Kajaki Dam on the Helmand River. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Last week I was watching a discussion on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” which really resonated with me. The concept was not particularly novel or profound but it merits recording here on the blog. The discussion revolved around our protracted involvement in Afghanistan and the conclusion drawn is one I think makes sense.

First, however, I wanted to briefly refresh my memory about our major wars of the second half of the 20th century. It’s actually kind of depressing to read about it. From a casual glance, one gets the impression that we Americans love to fight and love nothing more than fighting against the spread of an ideology with which we don’t agree. Whether or not that ideology is any real threat to us is another matter entirely.  In 1941 we very appropriately declare war on Japan for bombing Pearl Harbor. It is the last time in the 20th century that we actually declare war on a country that hurt us. The next big conflict in 1950 is the Korean War which basically is the result of the US and USSR sharing the spoils of WWII (Korea, a Japanese territory) but then falling out with each other based on ideology (communism). Communist China is our primary foe, with the USSR supplying support. The end of the three-year conflict has us no better off than we were before with a communist North Korea and a non-communist South Korea. China is no threat to the United States at this point, nor have they attacked us, but we jump on the United Nations bandwagon and get involved.

At about the same time, things start brewing in North and South Vietnam with the 50′s ending with our sending “military advisers” to the region. We all know how that turned out. Again, a region that posed no real threat to America other than embracing an ideology we opposed, gets a heap of American youngsters dropped in their lap, many never to return home. The great irony is that the big bugaboo of communism essentially dies of its own flaws in the 1980′s without a single shot being fired. The dreaded Soviet Union dissolves and communist China embraces, in a limited fashion, capitalism. What strikes me about both of these conflicts is our military involvement in regions that did not hurt us, and with no formal declaration of war.

Fast forward to the 21st century. We are attacked on September 11, 2001 by 19 men some of whom trained years earlier in Afghanistan, none of whom were actually from Afghanistan but rather were from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon. Our response is to attack the country where most al Qaeda training occurred, Afghanistan. While we are at it, we attack Iraq which had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 and in fact, we dilute our focus in Afghanistan and increase our military activity in Iraq. We declare war on neither country. As our effort in Iraq finally draws down, we up the ante in Afghanistan, which by this time has next to no al Qaeda. We expand our mission in Afghanistan to include nation building.

So here we sit today with a commitment to withdraw some troops from Afghanistan in 2011 (ten years after the 9/11 attacks) and most but probably not all troops by 2014. The war is a quagmire. The government we are propping up is disloyal to the United States and basically a sham. Most Americans, honestly have lost interest.

So here is the proposal inspired the “Morning Joe” discussion. Let’s fight us a real good old-fashioned war! It’s a two-step plan that would most definitely make the world stand up and take notice, not to mention knock our fellow Americans out of their complacency.

Step 1: Re-institute the draft.

Step 2: Formally declare war on Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

It’s basically the Bush Doctrine on steroids. If you knowingly harbor terrorists in your country or you finance them (e.g. Saudi Arabia), we will formally declare war on you and we will come over to your neck of the woods and bomb the living crap out of you until we are sure that you are taking terrorism seriously. The formal declaration is important. It is symbolic. It says that we are not engaged in some fuzzy-defined venture and we are NOT nation building. Any country harboring terrorists bent on America’s destruction is our enemy, end of story, and will pay the price.

This plan needs people to make it work. A volunteer army won’t do. So the draft must come back. And that is a good thing. Right now, we are waging an undeclared war with a small minority of folks, many of whom bear this burden because their civilian options are limited. Yes of course there are many patriots who would be there under any circumstances, but there are also loads of economically lower-middle class to low-class folks fighting this fight while the rich stay safe and cozy. That needs to change. We need forced buy in.

The great consequence of the draft is that anti-war folks finally wake up again. Folks who think a “war on terror” is a pipe dream equivalent to the “war on drugs” suddenly have good cause to hit the streets and protest because their best friend just got sent over to Yemen or their son or daughter just got shipped to Pakistan.

When I look at the last 50 years I see us doing a lot of fighting. Much of it prompted by no real threat to our safety. When the real threat comes, we fight these pseudo-wars with an all volunteer army that takes more than a decade to get the job done. We also tolerate incompetent governments insufficiently committed to stopping the terrorists within their own borders.

2011 is the year we should either pull out all the stops and make everybody take notice, or go home and stop doing a half-assed job that will go on forever.

Rutherford Political Blogger Alliance

December 29, 2010 at 1:54 am 175 comments

Why “the War on …” Always Fails

The War on Drugs

The War on Illiteracy

The War on Teen Pregnancy

We Americans sure love our wars, don’t we? Why do we always gravitate toward this metaphor to solve our problems? Why haven’t we figured out that it never works?

War is a strategically planned series of violent encounters between one aggrieved party and another. While one could posit that war is never productive (“War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing”), at least traditional war involves two parties in opposition and a conclusion where one party is victorious over another. That is why true wars are finite. Nation X declares war on Nation Y and the war continues until one is the victor or both sides agree to stop fighting.

However, when we declare “war” on an ideology or a concept, we’re in for an endless struggle with no satisfactory conclusion. War on a concept is an infinite war. The latest case in point is our “war on terror”. On NBC’s “Meet the Press” last Sunday while discussing the war on terror, Newt Gingrich stated that “war is over when the terrorists disappear”. Well, just how ridiculous a statement is that? Terrorists have always existed and will always exist. So long as there are aggrieved parties who, for whatever reason, find it impossible to express their frustration through legal means, there will be terror. Are we really to believe that our military should be in an endless fight against this “enemy”.

When Tim McVeigh bombed the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, did we send the military after him and his co-conspirators? No, we treated him like a criminal. Al Quada and the Taliban are not national entities against whom we can declare war. They are criminal organizations. Every terror network is a criminal organization. The fact that they may be politically motivated (so was McVeigh) is irrelevant. The way to pursue criminals is with law enforcement officials, not the military.

In a prior post, I defended the part of the Bush Doctrine that stated that countries who knowingly  harbor terrorists are our enemies. We should take diplomatic steps with these countries to get their cooperation. We should use sanctions if necessary. We certainly can’t declare war on them when they have not formally attacked us.

While we pursue terrorism as a criminal matter, we should also take steps to reduce the incentives for terrorists. The incidence of homegrown terrorism in the United States, Canada and other wealthy western countries is low for a reason. The level of desperation in these countries is lower than in others. We must use our influence to help countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to improve the standard of life for their citizens. International efforts to stamp out poverty and increase education are the way to go. (By the way, these are the very same efforts that would help in our struggle against drug dependency and teen pregnancy, i.e. a concerted effort to reduce poverty and increase education.)

Folks, we need to stop declaring war on everything we don’t like. Concepts and ideologies don’t die because you try to kill everyone holding the particular concept. Concepts change when you make an effort to change hearts and minds. Communism in Russia did not die because of military action. It died because the people realized it no longer served their purposes.

When it comes to ideology, war is good for absolutely nothing.

Rutherford Political Blogger Alliance

May 29, 2009 at 10:31 am 139 comments

What I Remember on Memorial Day

Usually this time of the week I post President Obama’s video address but since one was not produced this holiday weekend, I’ve come up with an alternative.

One of my commenters criticized me for not writing a blog entry about Memorial Day. It fit into his whole “Rutherford is an enemy sympathizer” theory. The following morning I heard an old song on the radio from the 1970′s which I thought quite appropriate for Memorial Day. You can find the lyrics on several places on the net but I pulled it appropriately enough from a site called “Scout Songs”.

One Tin Soldier

by Lambert-Potter, sung by Coven

Listen, children, to a story

That was written long ago,

‘Bout a kingdom on a mountain

And the valley-folk below.

On the mountain was a treasure

Buried deep beneath the stone,

And the valley-people swore

They’d have it for their very own.

Go ahead and hate your neighbor,

Go ahead and cheat a friend.

Do it in the name of Heaven,

You can justify it in the end.

There won’t be any trumpets blowing

Come the judgement day,

On the bloody morning after….

One tin soldier rides away.

So the people of the valley

Sent a message up the hill,

Asking for the buried treasure,

Tons of gold for which they’d kill.

Came an answer from the kingdom,

“With our brothers we will share

All the secrets of our mountain,

All the riches buried there.”

Go ahead and hate your neighbor,

Go ahead and cheat a friend.

Do it in the name of Heaven,

You can justify it in the end.

There won’t be any trumpets blowing

Come the judgement day,

On the bloody morning after….

One tin soldier rides away.

Now the valley cried with anger,

“Mount your horses! Draw your sword!”

And they killed the mountain-people,

So they won their just reward.

Now they stood beside the treasure,

On the mountain, dark and red.

Turned the stone and looked beneath it…

“Peace on Earth” was all it said.

Go ahead and hate your neighbor,

Go ahead and cheat a friend.

Do it in the name of Heaven,

You can justify it in the end.

There won’t be any trumpets blowing

Come the judgement day,

On the bloody morning after….

One tin soldier rides away.

via One Tin Soldier (The Legend of Billy Jack) Lyrics.

Clearly it is important to remember the bravery of countless men and women sent to fight wars fought with varying degrees of righteousness. However, I think it equally important that Memorial Day not be used to glorify war. It’s a good day to remember how truly fruitless most wars are. It’s a good day to renew our commitment to peaceful solutions to our differences.

Rutherford Political Blogger Alliance

May 27, 2009 at 12:56 am 56 comments

A Wise Republican Once Said …

I stumbled upon a quote today that struck me as particularly apropos with respect to our current state of affairs.

Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace. -Dwight D. Eisenhower, U.S. general and 34th president (1890-1969)

And this from a military man to boot. So, when and where did the Republicans go wrong?

Rutherford Political Blogger Alliance

August 19, 2008 at 7:46 pm 11 comments

You Don’t Have to Support the War to Support the Troops

No long diatribe this evening, just a simple quote that I stumbled upon that succinctly and eloquently expresses the difference between supporting the troops vs supporting the war.

“To delight in war is a merit in the soldier, a dangerous quality in the captain, and a positive crime in the statesman.” — George Santayana, 20th century philosopher.

Rutherford Political Blogger Alliance

July 9, 2008 at 11:36 pm 36 comments

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