Yesterday the United States Air Force, a force without peer in the world killed a terrorist leader named Zarqawi in Iraq. Originally we invaded Iraq because there were weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein might be able to hit New York City in 45 minutes with one of those weapons. That’s what we were told. We had Saddam and the Iraqi Air Force contained with a “no-fly zone”, but the government likes people who don’t remember details. After we got to Iraq and couldn’t find any weapons we had to invent a reason to stay there. Part of that reason got vaporized yesterday by two, five hundred pound laser guided munitions.

President Bush was apparently quite happy the Zarqawi got killed, but stated that his associates would probably carry on the war. If you’re a thinking person, which not many are apparently, you’d begin to wonder if all this killling is really accomplishing much. We don’t seem to be ending terrorism. We don’t seem to be winning any hearts and minds. We do have twenty-five hundred dead American soldiers and perhaps seventeen thousand badly wounded Americans. Of course there are tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis who’ve been caught in the crossfire. They’re listed as collateral damage following surgical strikes like the one that got Zarqawi. Did you ever see the destructive power of one of these IEDs or one of our five hundred pound bombs. It’s unbelievable. In the world of military speak collateral damage is the result of a surgical strike. I love the euphemisms these Pentagon types and pundits toss around. You’d almost think you were watching an episode of ER. War and killing have been sanitized by a special language that hides the ugly truth, a truth we don’t want to really see. As long as we can hide behind these metaphors we’ll be able to kill our fellow men without much thought to the soul sickness it is creating in our own homes, businesses and society.

We have a Character Counts program where I work that attempts to imbue ideals and values into young children. It’s a great program. We hope that the children leave school with a better understanding of those values. Those values are important to an orderly society. We teach children that telling the truth and fairplay are important and they are. Respect for life is one of those values. When those children get old enough and join our military we have to retrain them in basic training. We give them new values which will help them to stay alive in a war zone. Many of these values run counter to the ones they learned earlier in life. Is it any wonder that they are confused?

A couple of weeks ago I had cordial visit with a recruiter who was visiting our school. He was a nice young man, a sergeant in the 82nd Airborne. He told me he didn’t jump out of planes, he rappelled out of helicopters. He’d served in Iraq and had risked his life many times during the course of the war. Though I’m opposed to this war and to war in general, I’m a veteran of the United States Navy and there exists among servicemen and women a bond that lasts a lifetime. Though I had never met this sergeant before I immediately liked him and there is now a bond between us though we may never meet again. He’s an honorable man of high moral character. He had integrity. I don’t know if the sergeant had ever killed anyone and I don’t really want to know. I do know that he is a soldier and like all soldiers he will do his duty. That’s part of being in the Army.

I recently posted a cartoon by Mark Fiore about “Core Values Education” that is being given to our troops in theater in Iraq. This training comes on the heels of an alleged slaughter of Iraqi civilians. This massacre came on the heels of the explosion of an improvised explosive device. It appears that Marines reacted as you’d expect them to. They defended themselves and perhaps over reacted. How can anyone reasonably expect the Marines to act in any other fashion. Someone had just tried to kill them and they were reacting to that threat. They are trained to kill the enemy. In a war where the enemy is an irregular un-uniformed person, how can you tell friend from foe. There is bound to be confusion in the fog of war. Language like proportional response and rules of engagement are made up words by policy makers out of touch with the realities faced by men and women who have been placed in a gravely dangerous situation. The United States Marines in Haditha and the all our fighting men and women don’t need core values training. They’ve got it. They are the salt of the earth. The clowns who need the core values training are the leaders who lied us all into this war in the first place. We need core values training at the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives and at the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

The following quote is attributed to Herman Goering. Goering and his crew could have used some core values training themselves.

“Why, of course, the people don’t want war,” Goering shrugged. “Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”

….All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”


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