Friday, August 12, 2005

The Blues

It’s puzzling how we let things go when they don’t affect us personally. The war in Iraq comes to mind. I guess I’ve never really been affected by war wounded or dead directly before. At least I thought I hadn’t.

Yeah, my friend Mike Dawkins lost his testicles in Viet Nam, hauling poisonous chemicals on his ship, but he came home in almost one piece. My wife’s uncle Ken Schramm was sent to be a “sharpshooter” and his job was to pick people off from a distance, whether they were combatants or not. He just killed because it was his job. He had his target and he hit it. It was his job. He took the big sleep because of it.

A guy that worked for me a while back can’t hold a job because the chemicals he encountered on his ship in ‘nam somehow killed more brain cells than they should have. Result? He got counseling for a while, but with the 2003 Bush era VA benefit cuts, he can’t even get a dose of Paxil. He’s 52 and unemployable. I guess ‘nam will eventually kill him too.

Recently, another guy that worked for me got the next generation slap in the face. Jim Goede, retired Air Force Veteran from the Vietnam era, reluctantly said farewell to his son who enlisted to fight in Iraq. The boy, Jim’s only son ( he has 4 daughters) went at a time that the war was declared “over”. He’s almost 20, not many months older than my son Jacob.

Jim’s boy came home. What’s left of him, that is. He got his face blown off. He’s deaf on his left side. One of his eyes is gone. He had a part of his hip replaced. Final diagnosis? Friendly fire. His future? Maybe not totally lost, but severely changed.

Me? I cried with Jim when he told me. He doesn’t blame the people that did the shooting, his son’s allies. He blames the situation and those that ordered the initial offensive strikes that began this travesty.

At times like this I see my sons, and your sons (and even Iraqi sons)having to deal with having no limbs or eyes or ears or faces. I am afraid even more of their possible deaths. We abstractly deal with 2000 dead Americans while Iraqi families have to deal with over 200,000 dead. They’ve all got faces and parents, like us, to support them or grieve them.

I am not pacifist by nature. I guess I am just selective in what I think is a good cause for sending my sons off to die. Sacrificing them for oil or some jingoistic cause doesn’t seem any better than those crazed boys that drive their suicide bombs into troops or buildings or crowds of people for Allah.

When will we, as a country, admit our errors in judgement and go on? I expect never. We as individuals can’t seem to admit our wrongs. We are a country of collective denial. We are, as a nation, sometimes full of shit.

If your boys want to avoid it when the draft comes around, tell them to call me if they don’t wanna go. I’ll find a way to help keep them from going. I’m sure, when the time comes, you will too.

So many roads, so much at stake. So many dead ends, I'm at the edge of the lake. Sometimes I wonder what it's gonna take to find dignity.

These are valid feelings.

Many have felt the way these parents do.

I have read where our country's leaders received very bitter, angry letters from the surviving fathers and mothers of Marines and Soldiers who were seemingly wasted on the battlefields of WWII.

Lincoln was loathed by many at the critical hour of desperation in the Civil War. It would have been easy to just give up and let the South have its way and spread slavery to the West.

Many have found over the course of history that there was indeed more at stake than met the eye at the time of a raging conflict.

Vietnam was but one battle of many in the larger context of the Cold War. North Vietnam was bankrolled and supplied by the Soviet Union. The Evil Empire crumbled when bold Western leaders rose up and dared to shout down The Berlin Wall as if it were a modern-day Jericho.

People often forget about the suicide bombers of WWII -- the kamikaze. One light minelayer, the USS Aaron Ward, received several kamikaze attacks on May 3, 1945, while on picket station west of Okinawa.

Suicide bombers killed thousands of our troops in WWII. Discouraging. Feel like giving up? You bet they did.

I agree there are jingos and questionable arguments from certain pundits on the right. However, equally preposterous are cynical attacks from the left: e.g. "it's for oil," or "it's for the rich."

No, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

The Democrats and liberals love to promote welfare and justice for the people. Are these not worthy ideals for all peoples of the Earth? Liberals demand a higher minimum wage for workers in the USA, but they get upset at the thought of some poor worker overseas earning a nickel more per week as a result of logical, supply-and-demand, free-market, international trade.

If you earn $10,000 a year, you are among the top 1 percent of wage earners in the world. But in America, you will be labeled as "Poor."

I agree that such a phrase as "war on terror" is as undefinable, objectiveless and inherently impossible as "war on poverty." Jesus said "for ye have the poor always with you" (Mark 14:7). But in both situations the question remains: What should we do about the problem? In LBJ's War on Poverty, some good was achieved, and at last we learned that the more money you spend on welfare, the more welfare recipients you will have.

Perhaps we will learn the same lesson in the War on Terror.

But these bastards are flying airplanes into our buildings, and they are hatching some very evil plots against the West. Dan Rather told David Letterman on the first night of late night comedy's return to TV back in September 2001 that these jihadists see themselves as the losers of the world, and they're envious of our achievements, and they just want to bring us down. Liberal Dan Rather said that.

The WMD threat was very real. Saddam was within weeks of completing his rocketry program -- considered the "long tent pole" of any serious WMD program. It takes years to develop that sort of thing, and he was within a very short time of achieving this when we invaded in March 2003. The stuff of WMD warheads -- biological, chemical -- can be cooked up in a matter of days. All you need to know is the recipe for it, which Saddam's WMD scientists certainly did. When the purported caches of WMD weren't found, the media were denied their juicy story on a silver platter, and this fact has been used to ridicule the Bush administration's war justification. Meanwhile, the rocketry program just isn't sexy enough, and few people understand it, so it just goes by the wayside, forgotten -- the same as Saddams longstanding threat to "incinerate Israel."

Should we hunker down and hope terrorists don't hit us again? Or do we go out "on patrol," as we have done, and establish the equivalent of forward listening posts in the Middle East? At the very least, we are forming real friendships among the cadre of the new Iraqi military and civil service. One of their soldiers was buried at Arlington this week. We are establishing friendships that will be useful in the difficult years ahead, when we need to recruit agents and operatives in the never-ending battle for intelligence. I'm saying that in the worst-case scenario, if we pull out of Iraq and it's toppled by crazed fanatics, there will remain a residual group of freedom-loving Iraqi natives who worked side by side with Coalition Forces, and those friends can be recruited in a later bid to influence that region for good cause.

The red stripes in the American flag represent something very real. We love a good fight. "All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle," said General Patton. This will never change as long as there are real Americans.

If you want to blame someone for the war, blame Toby Keith for whipping up the nation with "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue." When you hear that bell ringing at the end of the song when he's making his righteous point, it's a very clever reminder of the Liberty Bell.

Such are the powerful symbols that guide and even propel us.

I recently read where Iranian leaders are nervous about having two free nations on each side: Afghanistan and Iraq. Imagine freedom and democracy taking root and having a fair chance in that region. Should we tip-toe around them because they are developing nukes, or should we take an active stance in the region? I favor the latter.

Iraq is close to achieving a Constitution. Her people are raising an army that will soon be charged with that nation's defense.

We will hold another presidential election in 2008, continuing our long streak of Constitutional succession of power. If the People don't like this war, if it's not over by then, then they can install a new leader. Anyone who doesn't vote can just blow it out their arse.

The clock is ticking, and we don't have much time. This is a desperate hour. We need to rally in a constructive way, and we should be cautious not to signal to the enemy that it is succeeding in weakening our resolve.

It's darkest before the dawn.
I can't add anything better than what you guys said, but I feel, while war is horrible, standing around and doing nothing is worse.
Someone said to me, "You notice how all Muslims are not terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim?" 99% of Muslims don't subscribe to this shit. It's that 1% who are the threat. They need to be stopped, anyway we have to. That's unfortunate, but what is the other option?
I agree some defense must take place and, as well, surgical offense. I guess the biggest problem, as I see it, is that we can't even get it right at home. We can't protect our own borders, how do we expect to do it somewhere else? The west side of Chicago and the east side of LA see probably as much death as Baghdad on a normal day.

Besides, the 9-11 guys were predominantly from Saudi Arabia. The new Saudi ambassador to the US was a close compatriot to Osama. Are we after the right guys, or are we in bed with the sources of terror? Most of Washington already thinks our intelligence was flawed to begin with.

To disagree a bit with Theodore, it certainly is about oil. Oil, business, trade and economics. Not wrong mind you, just not as altruistic as truth, justice, freedom... Not too many wars over the years have been about philosophy. The business of goveernment is business, probably always will be.

War is, simply put, politics by other means.
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