By Gregory Jones
During Gulf War I, I wrote an article entitled “Linking experiences is the best way to learn. This was an affirmative piece written against Gulf War I. In the first sentence I wrote, “Is it any wonder that the current events in the gulf have embroiled this nation in a divisive debate”? Now turn to Gulf War II, ironically the same thing can be said. One half of the nation is pretty much against the war in Iraq. As was the case during GWI, I am against GWII as well. However, a small change has occurred, since GWI, I have retired from the armed forces.
My speaking out against GWI brought me within an inch of losing my job with the military. However, it is a risk I would gladly take again. About 1400 American soldiers have lost their lives so far, not to mention the approximately 25,000 in the wounded category, or even the 100,000 Iraq’s killed so far. Every purported reason for going to war, such as WMD and uranium enrichment has proven false, yet we roar onward aboard the titanic of making the world safe for democracy.
Have we learned the major lesson of Vietnam, where all of our efforts resulted in the North Vietnamese coming to power? Will we see the Iraqi religious authorities take the reigns of power from our friend Prime Minister Allawi? The recent election in Iraq points to this conclusion. All of this blood and treasure just to see some backward religious authorities come to power. Remember James Madison’s words, “War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes”. In less than two years the total cost of this war is more than 300 billion dollars. It will be our first trillion dollar war!
Who benefits from these misguided wars? Not the soldiers who are paying the ultimate price with their lives. As they ride aboard the freedom wagon, the roads are not painted with flowers as some had predicted, but with explosive devices. The words of President Eisenhower ring true, and I quote, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exist and will persist”. Is our presence in Iraq for democracy building or profit? As it should be, that is a question that the American people must seriously ponder. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts”.
I challenge the majority community to discern what the facts are on the ground in Iraq, as well as the intentions of our leadership councils in Washington D.C. After all, our children are shedding real blood, while the world debates our mission there. Unfortunately, that debate is shaping up to be as divisive and contradictory as was the Vietnam War. New topics of national strategy, such as preemptive war and democracy building have become strange bedfellows. Can such a dichotomous strategy work? After all, the very notion of preemptive strikes has elicited bold accusations from some corners, even suggesting that this policy is tantamount to Nazism. Nazism was synonymous with aggressiveness and holier than thou euphemisms. The parallels to our current warlike postures leave many wondering.
Besides the debate concerning preemption, there is the other issue involving nation building. Do we as Americans have the mandate from heaven to impose democracy upon the world? Our sins are too many I think to impose our role modeling upon mankind at this time. So many problems swept into the dustbin here at home, leave us vulnerable overseas. The 300 billion dollars spent so far in Iraq, if used at home, could really make a difference in our many challenges here. Yet the return on our investment in Iraq can only be measured in blood and dollars at this point, as the place is as close a view of hell as there is on earth at this time. Consider these words from Paramahansa Yogananda, “The god-given role of guardianship of the earth did not confer on man absolute sovereignty. His wanton domination is destructive of the very conditions necessary for his existence”.