This was posted on the Metro West Newspaper blog in response to a conscientious objector who was speaking in the area. He was a former Iraq War vet who is going around the country advocating for peace. He incurs the wrath of some. I responded.
It's the Foreign Policy Stupid: The issue, as I see it, is the substance of American foreign policy. There are problems in this arena and have been, in my opinion, since World War II perhaps originating even before that. There is no other industrialized first-world nation on earth which has accumulated the humongous military and industrial liaison which had gone unchecked as has the US. It is responsible for the involvement in ad infitum wars of quagmire as well as the propping up of unworthy regimes all over the world. Our geographical good fortune has allowed us the ability to simply drop bombs and not suffer retaliatory consequences as most of the nations we attack are too poor, too remote and do not have the ability to do that. While at times just wars are fought too many unjust ones have been waged. US foreign policy has been responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands if not millions, has ruined infrastructure in countries like Vietnam, Iraq and many others and has cost TRILLIONS. We do not realize, I believe, as Americans the damage we inflict and the cost of our wars in OUR blood, other's blood, OUR treasure not to mention the bad will it has encountered worldwide.
I believe we have, since World War II, been yearning for the adulation (QUITE RIGHTFULLY we deserved) it engendered but somewhere along way, probably due to the perceived threat of Communism and its ideal of overthrowing our economic system, we have been on the side of despots and interfered often unjustly in the internal affairs of nations in which we do not belong. Our policy has been one of self interest, yes, but more recently it has been to our detriment as other nations must sweep up from our onslaughts, are often angered, alienated and desire revenge.
I believe the kinds of war in which we engage do NOT work anymore and MUST be rethought. I believe they are devastating in their consequences at worst and at best are immoral. We are not dropping chocolate we are dropping bombs and we have absolutely NO understanding of just what that means as we sip our morning coffee in quiet geographical removal. It is NOT World War II, and I think the stakes are now much higher. It is not simply conventional war we must fear but it is nuclear annihilation as it eventually becomes IMPOSSIBLE to contain the threat of nuclear weapons accumulation by third world nations. Most of the American people have NO idea of the risk and the cost of that kind of confrontation. I submit if you asked most in the street what Nagasaki was or what it meant they would not know.
I believe our MOST recent engagements especially Iraq but many others too have had the the gravest consequences, have produced the most profound immorality, have shaken up a hornets nest of protest, have threatened the stability of the Middle East and have been a grave threat to our own country. Because of its consequences we cannot afford the devastated infrastructure repair, the health care of our people and the necessary educational needs necessary to keep this nation competitive in a global economic world. Our lives, I believe, are at stake because of the absolutely inept prosecution of bankrupt foreign adventures for decades which are NOT in our or anyone's best interest.
We need to RETHINK what it means to wage war, the price that is paid in blood, treasure and the morality it engenders . We need to be ever so careful, ever so prescient as to where we land American boots. Empires come and go. With over 700 bases all over the world, wars fought on so many lands we are, I believe, indeed an empire and empires must know that it is NOT only about their lives it is about the lives of those they encounter. The stakes are high and significant changes MUST be made or we face, I think, as a nation our greatest threat.
Postscript: I heard Josh speak this morning and instead of keeping the money he received from the government as a soldier in Iraq he gave it to organizations he deemed worthy of his cause. He, as I gather, did NOT keep it.
As I said today at his speech, my viewpoint lies somewhere in the middle of WWII and modern times. I am a realist and I know not all men are saints. It is necessary to one's survival to have a defense. That does NOT mean, however, that one does not question the policy of government. If all men were like CO, Josh, what a better world it would be. The problem is they are not and it is the Solomon-like wisdom we need to determine when to use force and when not while knowing the immense pitfalls we encounter when we do.