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Archive for April, 2013

tomas-and-claudia

I have seen this letter from a veteran who chose to end his life and decided to chastise the Bush administration and the Iraq War as his lasting message. I am sorry for the suffering this soldier had to experience during his last years of life, and I do not condemn his choices. I honor his service and feel for him and thousands of others who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan not the same men and women they were when they left. My condemnation comes from the letter he wrote. Let me preface this by saying that I agree that the execution of the war in Iraq was a failure on the part of America and more specifically the Rumsfield ideology of small unit combat. We failed to adhere to the Colin Doctrine of overwhelming force and the need to secure. Instead we had fanciful ideas of how we would be welcomed while forgetting the history of Iraq…like it is made of three factions of people who HATE each other, that our supposed allies in Iraq had been screwed over by Daddy Bush and had no allegence to America, and finally Al Queda would see Iraq as a staging ground. We failed to adjust for these realities and the ensuing insurgency proved that point.

My initial reaction to the letter came from being a veteran myself. He, like myself, made a DECISION to join the military. He, like myself, was not forced to join. He, like myself, volunteered. Yes, I was lucky enough to serve this nation during a time of peace (for the most part), while he served during a time of war. Like thousands of young men, the events of 9/11 inspired him to join, but once he did, he gave up the right to make decisions in his life, as does every young man and woman who sign their name to that paper. He might not have liked or wanted to serve in Iraq, but he gave up the right to make that decision when he CHOSE to join the military. Was he let down by the course of events? Yes! Was he denied the opportunity to serve in Afghanistan and kill the people who killed Americans on 9/11? Yes! Did he return less (physically and mentally) the man than when he left? Yes! Unfortunatley though, he made the decision to give up that decision.

My major issues with the letter come in the details. First he suggests that the war was about oil and profits. However the reality suggests differently. Right now China, not America, purchases 72% of Iraqi oil. It is the Chinese that are making huge profits from America’s sacrifice. His real complaint should have been in the sacrifice he and his fellow veterans made going into the pockets of China instead of America and how our gov’t allowed this to occur. Instead our gov’t should have insured that any first profits from Iraqi oil went back to America to pay for that war and the care of veterans like him.

In it he suggests, as the media has done so well since (even though the media clamored for this war, imbedded their reporters in order to cover the war, and
NEVER questioned the evidence for the justifications for the war), that Saddam posed no threat to America prior to 2003. Having served in the Navy from 1996-2000 I, and even the media (who reported on it) know this simply was not true. Saddam fired on our military patrolling the Northern and Southern fly zones, threatened America with biological and, potentially, nuclear weapons, had made payments to the families of suicide bombers and terrorists in Israel, and thanks to nations like France, was skirting the sanctions levied against him. He was a threat in the region, and as history has shown, would have used America’s unwillingness to act to further his ambitions. His removal, though the execution of the war was a failure in many ways, was necessary.

Futhermore he speaks of the destabilization of region by allowing Iran to gain control. He is not wrong on this part, however where his failure comes in is not looking at the decisions President Obama made in 2011. Yes, America had grown tired of Iraq and many applauded the removal of US troops in that nation. However, it was the decision to remove those troops that furthered the destabilization of Iraq, that pushed it closer to Iran, and in fact made the sacrafices that he and his fellow soldiers made pointless. Truly honoring the blood and treasure we invested in that war would have been leaving that nation strong enough to withstand threats from its neighbors and protecting the civilians we promised a future in 2003. However, the reality is, President Obama removed that possibility and now Iraq is a broken nation where civil war has once again become the norm (after the gains we made from 2007-2010), and the innocent people of that nation have less of a future than ever before. Yes, Bush is to blame for creating the need for our presence in that nation, but Obama is to blame for deciding to remove that presence. Each and every death post 2011 in Iraq is blood on Obama’s hands, and unfortunately the blame falls on America as a whole.

In 2003 we entered Iraq with a promise of salvation, and in 2011 we left Iraq with a promise of its ultimate destruction. The Right Wing of American politics loves to point out that America has brought more freedom to the world than any other nation. That is a fact, but in doing so, we have also brought misery to other nations, and that is a fact that can not be ignored. That fact should not be the sole lecture point of our Left leaning professors, in fact both the history of Freedom and Misery should both be addressed mutually, and we should address how that misery could have been avoided then, and how that misery can be avoided in the future. Had Lowen, Chomsky, and Zinn been teaching that during the 1960’s-1990’s maybe we would have learned from America’s past mistakes and avoided them in Iraq. Instead the Right and Left create divisions and what is lost is the common ground. The nations of Europe, the Balkans, and even Iraq can look at their history and thank the sacrafices we made for their freedom, and at the same time nations like Vietnam, Haiti, Nicaragua, and even Iraq can also look at the failures of America’s decisions that led soldiers to make the ultimate sacrifice.

There is not an American war, including WWII, where returning veterans felt let down by their nation, or where the sacrifices made by our veterans was not in question. Washington put down a potential riot of veterans of the Revolution who felt denied by their new nation. Madison was attacked for his decisions in the War of 1812. Lincoln spoke loudly against the Mexican-American War. The Civil War was filled with divisions. The Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War saw the birth of the Anti-Imperialist movement. After WWI the US Congress investigated the monetary push for America’s entrance into that war. Many believe that Roosevelt allowed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in order for America to join the war, and even then many questioned the Europe 1st policy of Roosevelt. Korea and Vietnam were filled with divisions. The Gulf War was about oil. And the Iraq War, as this veteran once again points to, was about greed. The one singular reality of those wars however is this, the decisions, right or wrong, for those wars was not, and will never be in the hands of soldiers.

I can understand where this veteran’s frustration and anger came from, however I only wish instead of leaving behind a hate filled rant (which again I can understand), he left behind a stronger message. His letter has been used by the left to attack Bush, and I am sure that was the point of him writing it. However, by doing so, the real point is once again being lost. The Left will laud the message of the young man and have used it to, deservedly so, chastise Bush and the Iraq War. The Right have used the letter to attack the left and defend Bush. And once again the message is being lost, and that is where his letter fails. The common ground is not there and instead it created a divide. His letter could have been a REAL learning tool for both sides of the argument, but instead has been a tool for each side to use to dig deeper into their beliefs. I am not blaming him, because doing so would be to discount his sacrifice. I am simply saying his message, though heartfelt, only addressed half of the issue and placed blame on a singular group while the actions of both Bush and Obama made is sacrifice in the end…POINTLESS.

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