Memorial Day Memories: Two white haired quite elderly gentlemen wearing veterans' caps were sitting at a local supermarket with collection cans and handing out red poppies when they received a donation. I remembered vets doing that so many years ago when I was a child. These gentlemen were so sweet as they thanked and blessed me when I dropped a minuscule four quarters in their collector. I thought it a poor recompense for what they had endured. I thanked them for what they and others have given to the country and then I cried.
I was crying not only for the vets' sacrifice but also because the War in Iraq is a horrific mess and lost. I was crying for the waste of young life and because we are now considered by many to be the pariah of the world instead of its savior. When I was a child the vets with the poppies were usually WWII vets. I thought what a far cry Iraq II is from World War II. The two wars are light years apart not only in decades but are light years apart in the rationale for going to war. Iraq II has been one of the most divisive and, in my opinion, worst foreign policy blunder in US history. It has been based on catastrophic lies, incompetent mismanagement, inability to understand regional history and an absence of prescient planning. We attacked a nation which did not attack us. This war may have ultimately the most dire far reaching consequences for the US and, indeed, the world as nearly any we have waged. The argument now should be not whether we leave Iraq but how fast we should leave.
The mistake of Vietnam, I thought, was bad enough but the Iraq II venture really takes the blunder prize. In the brilliant film "Judgment at Nuremberg" one of the Germans, a former Nazi judge played by Burt Lancaster, accused of war crimes, finally admits to his complicity in the horrific Nazi atrocities. He ashamedly and ever-so-passionately asks the question "Where were we? Were we deaf, dumb, blind?"
I might ask the same thing of the people who not only conducted this war but the ones who were complicit in giving the permission slip. In the final analysis, someone put this president in office and someone voted yes giving him financial carte blanche to conduct a war under false pretenses which not many questioned. Perhaps, William Shakespeare said it best in Act I Scene II of Julius Caesar: "The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars but in ourselves."