War


On December 1st, President Obama told the nation that he is going to send an additional 30,000 US troops to Afghanistan! I wonder:  when the troops arrive in Afghanistan, will the Nobel Prize Committee require President Obama to return the Peace Prize they gave him?

During my life, I can remember other Presidents sending troops to some foreign land to defend us from… (you can fill in the blank!) My vision of this situation is more Americans who bleed and die while they act as the Global Police Force.  And, the ones not killed — will they have been altered physically and/or mentally for the rest of their lives?

We, the United States, got involved in Vietnam to support the French in their attempts to regain power in the region, following the end of WWII: American bombers, military advisers and technicians by the hundreds were sent to Vietnam between 1950 and 1954.  Then, when the French were defeated by the supposed “Communists”, we took on the job of supporting the “Non-Communist” regime that we helped put into power (we had to stop the Communist “domino effect” — which also explains the Korean War).  In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson ordered ground and air combat troops, as well as patrol boats, battleships, aircraft carriers and countless other support/supply vessels into the region.  This military action continued until our Congress succumbed to the anti-war pressure and passed legislation prohibiting direct U.S. military involvement after August 15, 1973.

Famous for his actions during the American Civil War, Major General William Tecumseh Sherman is given credit for stating, “War is hell!”  We never actually declared war on North Vietnam.  Yet, we still lost more than 58,000 Americans fighting that undeclared “War” (occasionally called the Second Indochina War).  I tend to believe that combat is hell – I think any of our soldiers, sailors, pilots or other personnel who have been in combat would agree.   The total number of Vietnamese men/women/children who died (North and South) during our years in Vietnam: an estimated 3 to 4 million.  In Laos and Cambodia: an estimated 1.5 to 2 million died.  And, I doubt anyone has ever tried to count the total number of people injured for the remainder of their lives

Who benefited from the fiasco in Vietnam:  The weapons companies?  The chemical company making the defoliant which came to be called “Agent Orange?”  Perhaps the many Americans working in the factories; we don’t have much unemployment during a large military action like that, do we?  Although… we were frequently lied to by our Government about why we were in Vietnam!

Fast forward a few decades: The USSR (the Russians) waged a war in Afghanistan for about 9 years!  The US Government supported some of the Afghans, with money and weapons, to battle the Russians. The USSR withdrew/quit because they got tired of what was becoming their “Russian Vietnam!”

Our combat troops  have been actively fighting in Afghanistan since 2001.   The Second Gulf War (our current Iraq war and more lies) began in April 2003.  President Obama has pledged to remove troops from Iraq.  However, what he seems to be doing is “relocating” our troops from Iraq to Afghanistan.

How ironic —  We police the World and we can’t, or wont, stop the surge of hundreds-of-thousands of people each year sneaking across our own borders: many of them are coming here to rob us; steal our identities, jobs, Social Security and health care; or kill us in our streets/homes!  If you live in a border State, you are very aware of how bad things have gotten. Where are the troops to prevent this terroristic action?  Should we naively think that Al Qaeda and other enemies of the United States of America wont attempt to smuggle “dirty-bombs” (containing radioactive material) or biological weapons across our borders?  Actually, maybe those with infectious diseases crossing our borders are “biological weapons!”

What have we learned from our experience in Vietnam, or other combat-zones since, except how to kill more people with bigger, better, and more expensive weapons.  Even though we have progressed toward “remote-controlled warfare”, we are not there yet.  American military personnel are still getting maimed and die in foreign lands, on almost a daily basis.  And, some of the people being killed with our high-tech guns, and other weapons of war, are Americans — in cases like that, “friendly-fire” is the politically-correct way of saying how your friend or family member was NOT killed by the enemy! Our weapons are also killing civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, just like Vietnam; ordinary citizens just trying to live their lives as best they can.  That doesn’t do much to make us popular. How is that “helping” the people in those countries?

Here is another quote from General Sherman –  “In our Country . . . one class of men makes war and leaves another to fight it out.” Certainly seems to be a universal-truth throughout most of recorded history.   I find it appropriate to use here to describe many of our 21st-century bureaucrats and elected-officials (remember to include the women) within the Federal Government.

Isn’t it time this lunacy came to an end?  Maybe it would stop if we, the US Citizens, said something like…  “politicians sending the troops had to go into combat with them!”  I can’t claim that idea as my own,  but it does appeal to me. 😎

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I spend several hours most days following interesting links.  I often am surprised at the things I find.  The poem below was written by a British soldier during what was known at the time as the “Great War”; today we call it World War I (WWI).

Wilfred Edward Salter Owen was born 18 March 1893 and died 4 November 1918.  He has been considered to be one of the best poets of  WWI writing about war and its effects.  Unfortunately, he was killed just one week before the war ended.  An additional irony is that, due to the slow movement of communications at the time, news of his death arrived back home on the same day as news that the war was over!

Because of word usage differences during the early 1900s, and perhaps more so because he uses “the King’s English”, it may be a bit of a strange read for you.  However, it still offers an insight into the struggles of soldiers wounded during War and how many of them look at their life ahead!

Disabled
by Wilfred Owen

“He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark,
And shivered in his ghastly suit of grey,
Legless, sewn short at elbow. Through the park
Voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn,
Voices of play and pleasure after day,
Till gathering sleep had mothered them from him.

About this time Town used to swing so gay
When glow-lamps budded in the light blue trees,
And girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim,-
In the old times, before he threw away his knees.
Now he will never feel again how slim
Girls’ waists are, or how warm their subtle hands.
All of them touch him like some queer disease.

There was an artist silly for his face,
For it was younger than his youth, last year.
Now, he is old; his back will never brace;
He’s lost his colour very far from here,
Poured it down shell-holes till the veins ran dry,
And half his lifetime lapsed in the hot race
And leap of purple spurted from his thigh.

One time he liked a blood-smear down his leg,
After the matches, carried shoulder-high.
It was after football, when he’d drunk a peg,
He thought he’d better join.-He wonders why.
Someone had said he’d look a god in kilts,
That’s why; and maybe, too, to please his Meg,
Aye, that was it, to please the giddy jilts
He asked to join. He didn’t have to beg;
Smiling they wrote his lie: aged nineteen years.

Germans he scarcely thought of; all their guilt,
And Austria’s, did not move him. And no fears
Of Fear came yet. He thought of jewelled hilts
For daggers in plaid socks; of smart salutes;
And care of arms; and leave; and pay arrears;
Esprit de corps; and hints for young recruits.
And soon, he was drafted out with drums and cheers.

Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal.
Only a solemn man who brought him fruits
Thanked him; and then inquired about his soul.
Now, he will spend a few sick years in institutes,
And do what things the rules consider wise,
And take whatever pity they may dole.
Tonight he noticed how the women’s eyes
Passed from him to the strong men that were whole.
How cold and late it is! Why don’t they come
And put him into bed? Why don’t they come?”