WAR DRUMS

“What do we want? War! When do we want it? Now!”

The warmongers are at it again.

In 2003, I took a very unpopular stance. I was against the invasion of Iraq. I didn’t believe there were weapons of mass destruction in the country. I felt the Bush administration was being totally ludicrous in guaranteeing that an incursion would be greeted with open arms by the average Iraqi citizen. I refused to accept that the war would be over in just a few weeks. Most of Congress went along with the Bush administration’s fantasies and lies. The mainstream media, still somewhat trusted by the general public in those days, jumped on the band wagon. And polls, taken at that time, supposedly indicated that 75% of the American public was behind our military offensive; an offensive against a sovereign nation based on unsubstantiated intelligence, on advice from an Iraqi exile who had not even been in the country for a couple decades, and on outright lies.

For the most part, I kept my thoughts to myself. It wasn’t popular to be against getting revenge for America.

Saddam Hussein was not a friend of the United States. It was proven that he supported groups that had carried out deadly terroristic operations. Though the attacks were primarily against Israel, the groups had also targeted the U.S. as well as the nations of western Europe. There was no question that he was a bad guy and had to go. But at what cost?

The invasion cost America almost 4500 U.S. military dead and over 32,000 wounded. It cost half a trillion dollars, taken from the federal reserve, and resulting in the U.S. transitioning from the world’s largest lender to the world’s largest debtor nation. The final cost, estimated to be in the trillions, will never really be known. The invasion also led to the establishment of the Guantanamo detainment center where, 13 years later, we are still holding prisoners whose involvement in actions against the U.S. have still never been proven.  And it fanned the flames of hatred of the U.S. by the peoples of numerous third world countries who look at the invasion of Iraq and know that they could easily be next.

The cost to Iraq: approximately 150,000 dead Iraqis, the country’s infrastructure totally destroyed, an unending civil war, and an economy completely devastated. Once again, the U.S. left behind a string of broken promises to rebuild a country that we helped ruin.

In the early 1980’s, the Soviet Union sent a massive number of troops in Afghanistan. As the cold war was still raging, the U.S. responded by supplying training and arms to Afghan resistance fighters in their opposition to the Soviets. Using the training and weapons provided by the CIA, the U.S. was able to help the Afghan guerillas defeat the Soviets and send them packing.

At the end of that conflict, we had the opportunity to help rebuild the infrastructure and to build goodwill in a country ravaged by almost a decade of war. It would not have taken much money – maybe $20 or $30 million – to rebuild schools, hospitals, and roads in Afghanistan. There was a surplus of trained and experienced quasi-military personnel who could have been organized into a viable army and government. We could have helped the country get back on its feet and would have gained a strong ally in that part of the world.

Instead, we turned our backs and walked away.

And what did we walk away from? We walked away from a country we helped destroy. We trained Mullah Muhammed, a founder of the Taliban, and then walked away, leaving him and his associates nothing with which to rebuild. The only thing left to them was their religion. And a hatred for the U.S. based on the fact that we had used them as a proxy in the war against the Soviet Union and then abandoned them. And, with that alone, the Taliban attempted to rebuild their country.

Osama bin Laden, also in Afghanistan and trained by the CIA, became equally antagonistic toward the U.S. for the same reason. A persuasive personality, he developed a deep hatred for the U.S. which he was able to spread and use to eventually develop the group which became known as Al Qaeda.

Bottom line – the foreign policy practices of the United States, from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush, are responsible for the development of the Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda in Yemen, and any number of other anti-American terroristic hate groups around the world. These policies are also responsible for the strong hatred of the U.S. among so many third world countries, especially Islamic countries.

“Whatever one sows, that will he also reap,” Galatians 6:7.

In the last seventy years, the United States has not won a major military conflict resulting in the loss of almost 100,000 soldiers in unsuccessful wars. Thirty-eight thousand died in Korea and forty-seven thousand were killed in Viet Nam. In Iraq and Afghanistan, almost seven thousand Americans have died and over forty thousand have been wounded. And for what? The Taliban still exists. Al Qaeda is still attacking U.S. and European interests. And now we have ISIS, an organization trying to prove they are even more brutal and more violent than the rest. The twelve-hundred-year long war between Sunnis and Shiites continues. None of the countries we’ve tried to “enlighten” have adopted true democracy and never will.

When we went into Iraq, on a projected three-week military expedition, one of the first things we did was to disband the army and existing government infrastructure. We banned all former Iraqi military personnel from becoming part of the new Iraqi army in spite of the fact they were highly trained and motivated. We stopped all Baathist party members from holding office even though they were the only ones with experience running a country. Instead of uniting the country, we made the schisms among the Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds even deeper. Many of the people we alienated went on to help form religious militias and resistance groups. They had nowhere else to turn in order to support themselves and their families. These groups in turn became the Islamic Jihad, Al Qaeda, and ISIS. Now we face one of the most violent terrorist hate groups in modern history and we are responsible for its creation.

Of course, what’s the first thing that happens? The warmongers want to send ground troops into the conflict. Our boots on the ground strategy has not worked. It didn’t lead to victory in Korea or Viet Nam. It didn’t work in Afghanistan. It didn’t work in Iraq. And it’s not going to work in Syria.

However, we have politicians in Washington who are totally beholden to the defense industry. They are the first to voice the battle cry. They are the first to demean any course of action other than war because that’s what helps their benefactors. It’s not their children who are sent to the combat zones. It’s not their children who get killed or badly hurt. It’s not their children whom they betray by not providing decent care and benefits for veterans when they return from war.

It’s not their children they are burying.

There is the better part of 200 countries on this planet and ISIS is the enemy of almost all of them. Let other countries put boots on the ground in Syria and Iraq. Let other countries sacrifice their sons and daughters. Let other countries join the fight to protect themselves from these terrorists. The U.S. can and should participate logistically. We can supply the arms and the resources they need for an extended campaign against ISIS. That should also serve to keep the U.S. defense industry happy. They will have a war to supply.

We lost a hundred thousand Americans in the last seven decades with nothing to show for it. It is time we stopped being the world’s policeman or bully, depending on your point of view, and let someone else put boots on the ground.

It’s time to say no to the warmongers.

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