Post#: 357-18 – Words: 2371 – Audio: N/A
Anyone who actually wants a war is not human; but it’s very human to want to wage war.
The above byline certainly illustrates by itself the complexities with our species having to deal with the ability to reason… and having opposing thumbs; a built in ability to justify killing each other, and to make the weapons in order to kill each other more easily.
My blog buddy, chuq, from his blog at In Saner Thought, posted a compelling perspective about his agreeing with Trump’s decision to yank our troops out of Syria and reduce those stationed in the never-ending conflict in Afghanistan. His post is linked here, Trump Be Right!
Debating my buddy chuq is not the intent here because I have never walked a mile in his shoes in facing combat up front and personal as he did during Vietnam. Until you’ve killed someone and/or have seen others killed, especially your friends, and/or seen the devastation of war… one doesn’t quite understand what it sometimes takes to carry out this country’s policies… and all that affects a person for life. Chuq has my utmost respect for whatever he experienced in that senseless war.
But.. and you knew this was leading to the proverbial “But”… there is a context to place the impact of Trump’s decision. Combat veteran or not.. many Americans do indeed feel Trump has made a wise decision. Hell, just look at our nation’s record of getting involved in conflicts just since WW2. It pretty much sucks as far as reaching positive outcomes… and it continues in many places. History has proven our engagements in most conflicts, from Korea to now, were ill-conceived political boondoggles in the least, initiated on false assumptions, fake assumptions, and illegally assumed and artificially created assumptions. In my lifetime about the only “true” conflict we waged was Desert Storm under H.W. Bush, Colin Powell, and the best post-Vietnam fighting commander, Gen. Norman “Stormin’ Norman” Schwarzkopf. Those guys all made sure the entire mission focused on kicking Saddam’s ass out of Kuwait and back into Iraq… and that was it. Free Kuwait from Saddam’s conquest, and come back home… and they did just that.
Given the spiritual and moral considerations for wanting to bring our troops home from any ill-conceived conflict is essentially everyone’s desire, there are also other moral implications in bringing them home without some thought toward our nation’s interests. First off we need to consider the role of the military in general. At the outset we know Article l, Section 8, says Congress can raise a military. But we also know that over our history the military is not just “there” for the national defense but also as a tool of foreign diplomacy. More often than not, the awesome power and potential of our standing and reserve military, and the will of Americans to use it, makes for a good deterrent in keeping other nations in line. Together with the much-maligned military industrial complex providing far superior weapons and weapons technology, it’s no question our military is the most powerful in the world… that can be delivered ready for battle anywhere in the world.
We Are Better Than M.A.S.H.!
There is another military component to that outlined above… the hugely improved technology to make the individual soldier a purely potent weapon AND keeping him/her in good shape as long as possible to maintain their fighting effectiveness, to reduce after-conflict medical long-term medical attention and government expense, and MOST importantly to assure as many of our soldiers return from a conflict and re-enter society to their loved ones and for building a life. The days are long gone of the soldier just being cannon or machine gun fodder fighting in some Napoleonic formation. Our helicopter evac tech can get most injured on the battlefield to hard medical care within that first critical hour to be stabilized… then airlifted to state of the art medical care.
So What Does All This Mean?
It means that the average soldier can serve with expectations of very likely surviving.. and even survive uninjured, or not injured with some permanently disabling condition. The numbers and stats support this improvement over the last 70 years of conflicts. Now, quite obviously some soldiers tragically do die or are dramatically handicapped. Also more apparent is the effects of PTSD; the body could be fine, but the mind falls into turmoil. No question that being in combat still is not a “fun” thing by any means. But when a soldier enlists to serve, answering to the call of duty in some form, he/she does not necessarily enlist to put his life on the line… but rather, he/she enlists to serve their country with the expectation that their equipment, training with said equipment, learning to work as a team to achieve strategic goals, training to take orders, knowing that their commanders have their backs to get them medical care rapidly if necessary, and that Americans at home have their moral support for taking the risk to carry out national defense.. or policies of national interest… that ALL those elements are on their side working to keep them alive.
Bottom line, the military is a tool and no one enlists for the purpose of dying for country. They serve because of a love for America… and love for the Constitution that in some extended way, has allowed them to be deployed somewhere to make a difference for home and for others. Of course many do enlist for the extended bennies and a career.. but I am sure all are committed to “God & country” at varying levels. No one cherry picks what conflict, current or future, they might choose to fight in because of some personal politics.
For The Rest Of Us Not Serving?
Anyone who tinkers at home at the garage or basement work bench knows that the most important part if fixing or building something is using the right tool for the right job. The military is a tool for defense and for diplomacy. That could interpret into being something as noble as humanitarian relief or protection of refugees, to liberating some Third World country, a punitive action, or simply to provide peacekeeping efforts. As Americans we have to let our elected leaders know how, when, and for what reason to send our troops into a region. We cannot and must not abuse that process and that is where we must listen to those Americans who have been there.. the families who lost a loved one, the soldier who lost his legs, the soldier who came back with reoccurring mental images of the horrors they witnessed.. listen to guys like my blog buddy, chuq.
Americans have to decide the potential human costs to any involvement that places our military in harm’s way. Americans can provide the impetus, our politicians have to set down the policies, and our military strategists set down the goals. The President, being commander-in-chief, gives the go-ahead… and Congress has control of the purse strings. But as a nation we should never be afraid of using our military because they are quite capable in carrying out any mission. We should always be cautious in how we use that tool… and to only use that tool in the ways they will have a measure of success.
What Happens When We Do “Intervene”
It’s been good politics that political and military intervention begins with forming partnerships… the coalitions of allies that contribute in some way to the effort (if nothing else it tends to spread the “blame”). Sometimes we assist them in their time of need, most often we are working together toward another universal goal. Many times we are fulfilling previous agreements or treaties, like NATO. Also when we intervene, we are making a moral commitment to those we might be helping. There’s a faith that our presence will make a difference and they have our word that we will help until a goal is met. The problem many times is that the goals are ambiguous and/or ill-defined, or are just plain unrealistic to achieve and events take over that force a mission-creep, increased casualties, and a reluctance at home of a tired public willing to continue the endeavor.
So, Why Is Trump’s Decision To Leave Syria and Reduce Troop Levels By Half In Afghanistan So Wrong?
- The decision was arbitrary. All his decisions usually are. He spewed out all his campaign promises regardless of importance, an actual need (many are much ado about nothing), ability to deliver, and most certainly with no plan in how to deliver. He made this decision with little or no consult with the generals, the Pentagon, the intel agencies. Mattis resigned because of that.
- There was no consult with our allies supporting our efforts… in effect, leaving them holding the bag in the region.. abandoning them on the field of battle. These are supposed to be our friends. Our nation looks like an untrustworthy partner, unreliable, and mostly self-centered when it was at our urging that we formed the alliance to begin with.
- Trump has no geo-political savvy. He is unable to formulate foreign policy, unable to accept the advice of those who understand such concepts. He could care less about treaties and agreements.
- His declaration that ISIS has been defeated was completely unrealistic and incorrect. ISIS is an idea.. a concept. Like Nazism is not dead simply because the Allies won the war. They may have sustained a battlefield loss of occupied land.. but they are NOT defeated. Very likely when we leave they will return as a fighting force yet again.
- Russia is celebrating; Iran is salivating… and you gotta believe Assad is relieved. Another conflict region without our influence to offset Russian and Iranian intervention.
- If Europe thinks they had refugee problems before and it’s over……………… think again.
- Afghanistan? The troop reduction there will just embolden the Talaban to attack and pick off our soldiers at will, knowing full well we won’t have a stomach.. a collective will, to continue being there.
I am sure the ramifications for our leaving will continue for decades. I looked over the Internet and I have found that American deaths from our four years in Syria have been five… and two of them were accidents. Not sure I understand the urgency to leave here. Now, this does not mean I am all for just plodding along forever in these conflicts. Afghanistan is bad enough. We need to force a foreign policy to address some level of goals for all our endeavors.. whether in Africa or Asia or the Middle East. Trump will have nothing of it. The idea is not to just plain leave.. but rather before we get involved we plan ahead with a solid foreign policy.
My One Personal Peeve…
It’s the reference that service personnel are “defending the nation” or “defending our freedoms” or similar phrases. Each conflict that requires our military intervention is not in the least a battle royal for our freedoms against some “enemy of the week”. Our troops are not engaged in repelling some homeland invasion. I fully understand that it’s been popular, especially following the totally embarrassing and tragic public response to our returning soldiers from the Vietnam War 40 years ago now, that we elevate our military folks as “heroes’ for simply showing up for basic training. No question our young people who enlist for military service deserve our thanks for serving… but what they need more is our attention in what they are doing, how they are ordered to do it, why they have been sent to wherever they end up going, and that they have the correct equipment and training for what we need them to do. We help them the most when we send them over to some conflict with everything they need to be as successful as possible.. and to come back in one piece, mentally and physically. It isn’t always possible to avoid casualties but we better make damn sure that was a consideration at the time we, the people, sent them into harm’s way.
Is the goal ever worth the ultimate sacrifice even if it’s only one life lost? Usually we will never understand that until we are well into a conflict. Family survivors will try to find some solace in justifying their tragic loss to attempt a meaning to it all. Having been in the funeral business for a number of years I am well aware of grieving survivors. But the fact remains, when a person enlists in the military they know the risks.. and are willing to accept them. Whether they die in a less-heroic tragic vehicle accident, a victim of a roadside IED, in hand-to-hand combat, or the proverbial charging a machine gun to save their buddies; death is death. But in all cases they died in service to the nation and less about some political cause that makes sense or not.
You know, it’s the Christmas Season…
…and we are stuck with a President who has no concept of the office which he holds, and certainly has little compassion, even less humanity, no humility, and no sense of what it is to be American. The year ahead is suppose to be full of optimism and hope. Any real president would have conveyed that to us this time of year. We are in a government shutdown because of some idiotic wall building nonsense.. people are resigning from the administration, leadership positions are unfilled everywhere, in a couple weeks the Dems will begin House investigations and likely impeachment proceedings, and then there’s the Mueller investigation which will most likely result in legal problems for Trump and his uninspiring family. The government is in chaos.. a shambles.. and it’s looking worse for the nation. Yep.. Happy New Year for sure.
The one good piece of hope in all this… because of our Constitution we will recover from all this.. and Trump-the-Idiot will be gone someday soon… and next Christmas will be more hopeful. America will still be around.
Make this holiday with the family a tad more special and hopeful.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.
My other sites… if you’re interested…