As one who hails from a long line of warriors, ancient warriors, Celts and Castillians and the mother of an Iraq combat veteran my view of the futility of war was hard come by. For brief moments when I allowed myself to think about war at all, I accepted that achieving an end by force might sometimes be acceptable. Not that I ever felt we should arbitrarily invade a country for regime change but shouldn’t we have intervened in Rwanda and stopped the slaughter of a million Tutsis by the Hutus? Ought we not be in Darfur stopping the Janjaweed and rescuing the starved and displaced families?
The answer is yes but not militarily. Peace, humanity and nation building are not the purview of the military as it exists today. Diplomacy and politics and human dignity are the only ultimate solution. Consider these words from cartoonist Jeff Danziger, a Vietnam veteran published in the Boston Globe
THE PENTAGON has little choice but to begin planning for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. The House of Representatives has just passed rules that make a soldier’s second or third tour in Iraq possible only after an equal amount of time has been assigned at home. We don’t have enough troops now, and the House action will mean even fewer troops will be available.
Journalists have an interesting way of illustrating the difficulties involved in a withdrawal: If all the trucks, humvees, tanks, semitrailers, and wheeled artillery pieces were lined up in a convoy down the road south to Kuwait, Time magazine reported, they would stretch 100 miles. It wouldn’t happen this way of course, but for sheer history-book gee-whiz quality, that would be a photo opportunity to equal the helicopters leaving the roof in Saigon.
And appropriately so. For that photo, which showed the haste and confusion of Vietnam withdrawal that occurred almost entirely without planning, probably hurt US military prestige more than any other single image. Vietnam proved that wars are a lot easier to get into than out of. If you can get out at all. (emphasis mine)
Real combat veterans are not so common and while I know hundreds of veterans I know only 30 or so combat veterans including my son. Though I know there are exceptions out there, of those men I know stretching from Vietnam through to Iraq they each agree, to the man, that war makes matters worse, not better. John, my son, told me once that he wouldn’t wish war upon his worst enemy.
The U.S. military buildup that was supposed to calm Baghdad and other trouble spots has failed to usher in national reconciliation, as the capital’s neighborhoods rupture even further along sectarian lines, violence shifts elsewhere and Iraq’s government remains mired in political infighting.
In the coming days, U.S. military and government leaders will offer Congress their assessment of the 6-month-old plan’s results. But a review of statistics on death and displacement, political developments and the impressions of Iraqis who are living under the heightened military presence reaches a dispiriting conclusion.
Despite the plan, which has brought an additional 28,500 U.S. troops to Iraq since February, none of the major legislation that Washington had expected the Iraqi parliament to pass into law has been approved.
Nevertheless, we leave our troops in harm’s way. We pretend that leveling cities in conducive to nation building. We ignore the signs on the ground, the pleas from the troops themselves and we pretend that we are sending our children off to die for a noble cause. Not only do we send them there but we leave them there ill equipped and ill guided and sit aimlessly by while Congress establishes another committee to investigate another constitutional violation or another outed gay legislator.
Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be warriors because the American people really don’t give a damn about them.