Social and Political Commentary

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Why are we the War-King of the world?

... concerns about life and losses

by Jackie Wattenberg

At the end of WWII, President Roosevelt said, "We must have no more wars,
but settle our problems diplomatically." Soon Europe developed the European
Union to settle most of their problems "diplomatically."

At the end of World War II, General Eisenhower said, "I hate war as only a
soldier can who has been there, who has seen its brutality, its futility,
its stupidity!" At the end of his presidency he tried to warn us about "The
Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex" that maneuvers to take us into
war.

Yet with all of these words of warning and wisdom, our presidents AND
Congress have taken us into eight wars since World War II: Korea, Vietnam,
Grenada, Nicaragua Contra War, Panama Invasion, First Gulf War, Afghanistan
War, Iraq War. Only two presidents since WWII had no wars--Presidents
Eisenhower and Carter.

Why so many wars? Are we imitating the adventures of ancient Rome? Except
that ancient Rome met with forces both powerful and small, climaxing way up
in England, and we attack only smaller, weaker countries with less military
power than our own.

Besides these wars, we have managed 42 coups since WWII.

Why so many wars? Korean Communist actions got us into the Korean War, and
Eisenhower got us out. John Kennedy sent advisers and some Military into
Vietnam, but he said he "never wanted one American killed." But when he
died, Presidents Johnson and Nixon kept the war going with an unending
acceleration of American deaths. Little was said about the deaths of
Vietnamese, people hardly any of us knew, didn't know just where this
horrible Communist country was that we had to straighten out by sending
more and more drafted young American men -- yes, actually FORCED to kill
and be killed. Vietnam is like a little torn stocking on the chin of China
-- how expensive it must have been to send all the materials of war half
way around the world!

At that time we were about the only nation of the developed world that
couldn't afford to give our citizens health care. But we could afford to
keep sending our soldiers and bombs and food and all the essentials of life
to a strange and undeveloped country until, after almost 10 years, we had
lost more than 60,000 young, hopeful brothers and sons of us Americans at
home, and had killed 3,200,000 unknown Vietnamese people, from children to
elderly, who had never harmed us in any way. This figure from then
Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, with great angst.

Why so many wars? Why 750 billion given each year to the Pentagon for
military uses?

Many Americans are now suffering from the financial crisis -- losses of
jobs, losses of mortgages and homes, many living in their cars or motels.
These Americans ask -- why so much on the military when we are in terrible
need? In their own budgets, they carefully considered the needs of ALL of
the family members, not just one person above others.

What do we see of the effects of our military might? Now more than a half
million Iraqis have died from our six years of war in their land -- for
what reason? Oh yes, we readily recall -- "WMDs" weapons of mass
destruction.

That dread power was provocation of our war against that far-away land that
is called the "cradle of civilization."

And did we find those WMDs that stirred President Bush-Cheney and most of
Congress to another war? As Senator Kennedy, late Senator Byrd, Republican
Senator Lincoln Chaffee, Congressman Dennis Kucinich all felt sure about --
there were none! In England, the government set up a stringent inquiry of
former Prime Minister Tony Blair who had joined President Bush in the Iraq
war.

A few weeks ago, former President Bush was interviewed on TV, asked if he
had "any regrets" about his presidency. Softly, ruefully, he replied: "I
wish I had had better information about the WMDs." This was a moment of
truth and no bravura from this patriotic Texan. A half million deaths of
innocent Muslims in Iraq, more than 4,000 healthy young Americans dead,
thousands more horribly wounded, nearly a thousand so traumatized by the
horrors of war that they have committed suicide.

With such an admission from Bush, shouldn't there be an inquiry such as
Tony Blair faced in England? Can such tragic facts be passed over and
forgiven without even a hearing by our government that represents all of
those American citizens who died for that now regretted reason? For those
who will never be healthy again -- and yes, for a half million fellow human
beings in Iraq killed by our military power? Some losses were from
conflicts between Sunni and Shi-ites, but U.S. military might was the
greatest force.

But there was our tragedy of 9/11, loss of almost 3,000 innocent Americans.
President Obama, who spoke eloquently against war in Iraq, has said that
the Afghan War is "the necessary war." Former President Bush-Vice President
Cheney had at first invaded Afghanistan, but suddenly decided to forget
that land from which Osama bin Laden, perpetrator of 9/11, had come, and
get their long desired war in Iraq going. But once Iraq was conquered, back
to Afghanistan, now broadly called a"quagmire."

And as customary in law cases of crimes and punishment, what of actions
that caused the crime? Is there guilt to be found in new testimony? The
young man who attempted a bombing in Times Square has said that "there will
be more bombing as long as America continues to kill Muslims" all over the
Middle East. Have we done this? Little coverage in our news reports, but
yes, a half million Iraqis killed now, more than 17,000 merely happened to
be close to targets of our drone attacks, women and children who were
killed along with our targeted man.

Again in considering cause and effect, why was little seen of bin Laden's
stated reasons for his 9/11 bombing? "Deaths of more than a million
children who had done nothing wrong, from impure water" after Bush One, in
getting Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in the First Gulf War, bombed and
destroyed Iraq's water purification plant, then levied sanctions that
forbade import of chlorine to purify the water. Children and elderly, most
vulnerable to impure water, died. I know two men who went to Iraq to try to
improve thier water, but with no chlorine, they could not.

A very conservative American politician, Patrick Buchanan, asked on a TV
show "Why are we being targeted for terrorist actions?" answered quickly,
"Because we're an empire, building empire all over the world," including
attacks on Muslims that account for the hostility toward us.

We are a great country, handsome, with levels of freedom and opportunity
that bring in struggling and hopeful people from all over the world. But
since World War II, our Congress, instead of looking to guard those
freedoms and opportunities of all of its citizens, has chosen to maintain
wars that, as Eisenhower claimed, enrich the military industry, the
Pentagon military, and yes, Congress members themselves from endless war
contracts.

This is my country, land of anti-war Thomas Jefferson, Ted Kennedy, Jimmy
Carter, Cindy Sheehan, Robert Byrd, Cat Stevens, Catholic priests and nuns
and Unitarian ministers and Presbyterian ministers all fervent against
wars. But their voices little heard in protesting our horrendous wars that
have killed so many more than we lost on 9/11, and are not winning hearts
and minds around this troubled world, but adding anger to their fears.

Americans who oppose their country's endless wars must let their government
leaders know their fears and aspirations. This is, after all, still a
democracy.


August 6, 2010


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