Yesterday on Vietnam Veterans Day I had the privilege of listening to a lecture from a guy who’s pissed that Joe Biden is president and that gas prices are high. In the spring of 1972 I registered for classes that coming fall. I went home like all the other kids expecting to see them in August or September. When I got home there was a notice of pre induction physical for the draft. There was no sophomore year nor junior and senior year either. In August when my former classmates were slapping each other on the back and shaking hands I was in recruit training at Great Lakes, Illinois.
I don’t regret my naval service. I’m proud to have served this country. I still have my dress blues even though they don’t fit. There was a time I prayed that my brother and later my son wouldn’t have to serve in the armed forces but I’ve come to believe compulsory national service would be a good thing. A recent poll of Americans revealed that only 55 percent would come to the aid of the country if we were invaded.
We’ve spawned several generations of folks who think they’re entitled to life on their own terms no matter what. On the world stage we’re witnessing the brave people of Ukraine fend off invaders and the disruption of life as they knew it by a bunch of lawless thugs led by the man who tried to subvert our democracy. I’m sure they’d be willing to endure high energy prices for some peace and freedom.
Freedom isn’t free. Doing what you want when you want how you want with no regard for others isn’t citizenship. It’s lawless and childish. If you’re still driving a gas guzzler 50 years after the energy crunch we lived through in the 1970s then you’re not too bright. End of rant.
VoteVets had a poignant post on Instagram earlier today. That resonated with me. In the past twenty years since 9/11 we’ve been thanking active duty military and veterans for their service to the country. That’s great and truly appreciated by any veteran that received that thanks. At the same time however it has allowed the general public to perform a perfunctory service that made them feel as though they were part of the war effort.
This hasty quip is part of the feel good culture that at the same time has largely ignored the plight of military service personnel who have been called on to serve multiple tours of duty in the war zones of Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere without a shared sacrifice by the folks on the home front.
The transition from conscripted service to the all volunteer military in the United States has created an unfair situation where those who volunteer for military service are forced to serve multiple tours of duty in dangerous environments. During Vietnam most soldiers and marines served a maximum of twelve or thirteen months in combat areas before being rotated stateside or to non-combat areas.
As a veteran whenever I thank another veteran or active duty person for their service I have empathy and connection with what I’m saying. I wonder how many other folks seriously reflect on their greetings.
Mark 12:30-31 continues to animate my life and my thinking. It’s often tough to do, but produces the best results.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.”
A miracle occurred on Christmas day and a tragedy of epic proportion was avoided when a terrorist was thwarted. The details are part of most news channels and websites. For a person who flies occasionally and who has children who travel by air such detestable acts are beyond reprehensible. The war on terror has not produced a world free of terror, it has produced more of the same. We have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on weapons systems which has made the military industrial complex very happy, but we have not solved this problem of international terrorism. I’m naive enough to believe that Jesus might have been right and that loving your enemy might prove so disarming that he or she is no longer your enemy. We might be forced to actually implement this principle as we approach national bankruptcy from monumental spending.
My thoughts will likely be attacked by some who read this as naive or liberal or some other attempt to discredit my views or this scripture passage. I expect that but I have to wonder how we really can defeat terrorism. Force of arms is not getting the job done. Love might just do it!
This video came from the American Friends Service Committee website and it’s very powerful. As we approach Memorial Day let us consider what other memorials there could be. War is not nor does it have to be the only memorial. There are other ways to help our fellows.
Yesterday, President Bush told a reporter that he gave up golf to be in solidarity with the parents of loved ones who had been killed in Iraq. Soldiers, Sailors, Air Force and Marines who’ve been killed in an un-necessary and illegal war can draw solace that Mr. Bush has given up golf. What a guy? Do you think George Bush belongs in the same history books as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln? Does this poor man get it? What planet is the guy on? Tonight Keith Olberman lit into the President in a tongue lashing without peer. View it here.
Sadly this is too little too late for thousands of Americans and Iraqi people who have been killed by a person who cares little if anything about human life. I have to wonder what if any lessons we as a country have learned from this debacle in Iraq. Have we learned that war only begets war and that only peace can bring an end to terrorism. I wish the president had kept playing golf and given up lying. You want to engender solidarity, call the nation to shared sacrifice. There should be no tax cuts for the wealthy in war time. You want to promote solidarity, how about gas rationing or a call to use alternatives to fossil fuels. How about an end to no bid contracts for your buddies. How about less “bring’em on” speeches and less politicization of opponents of your failed strategy.
You want to show real solidarity with the troops, own up to your mistakes honestly. Admit you were way wrong and ask forgiveness for yourself and your wrong headed strategy. Instead of a presidential library how about taking the money and putting it towards a trust fund to help the widows and children of the four thousand dead military personnel and the countless thousands of wounded from this debacle. How about asking the war profiteers to give back some of the billions of tax payer dollars to establish the beginning of an international aid program. Start playing golf again and while you’re out there invite some of the orphans of Katrina, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere to join you for lunch. Live with the victims of war and you’ll be a little less likely to start another one. Spend some time living with a military family, eat the food they eat, sit up with them while they worry and pray for their loved ones. When you’ve been in their shoes it’ll be a little tougher to start another war.
On April 21, 2008, Senator Hilary Clinton while appearing on Keith Olberman’s program said that if Iran were to attack Israel with nuclear weapons the United States would retaliate massively with nuclear weapons. This sort of outrageous thinking is what led to World War I. Senator Clinton’s appalling lack of perspective leaves her unfit to govern. Great leadership demands great compassion. Complex problems require great thought and complex solutions.
My mother who lived through World War II will never condemn the United States use of nuclear weapons against the Japanese. Not having lived through that period I can afford to be idealistic, but an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. Senator Clinton is one of the blindest of the blind.
This week in Congress, General Petraeus, told our representatives that we have to pause on the draw down of our troops in Iraq. Iraq is not really any safer than it was a year ago when we were told that we needed to surge our troops in order to bring stability to the country. I didn’t watch the testimony. I’m sure I would have been sickened by the baloney. I’m a bit cynical after growing up during the Berlin buildup, a draftee during the War in Vietnam. Continue reading “Terribly profitable”
Today I came across a nice interview conducted by Charlie Rose on public television with two Iraqis. Their subject matter had do with whether Iraq was better off five years later as a result of the United States invasion and occupation. I hope you take the time to listen to this as it’s quite informative and not supportive in general of much of the baloney that we’ve been fed by our government and the United States press.
Today marked the 4,000th American soldier killed in combat in Iraq. Colonel Dan Smith has a well written piece at Quakers Colonel. I also read a well written piece my Michael Moore at CommonDreams. It is more than a sad story. It is the tragic death of the American Democracy. We’re taxed to death to pay for their war machine and what money they can’t wring out in taxes is beaten out of us at the gas pumps. I think the country as we knew it is dead. We have no voice in our government. Word that Exxon deliberately under produced to drive up prices brings no response from the government. It’s no surprise and none of the candidates can do a damn thing about it. The election is just a sham, policies will remain the same. They are all just figureheads for the war machine.
Thomas Merton sums up my thoughts best.
“I am against war, against violence, against violent revolution, for peaceful settlement of differences, for nonviolent but nevertheless radical changes. Change is needed, and violence will not really change anything: at most it will only transfer power from one set of bull-headed authorities to another.” Thomas Merton