Tuesday, August 03, 2010

A War to Share: I paste below Bob Herbert's NTY op ed piece entitled "The Lunatic's Manual" about the Afghanistan soon-to-be-ramped-up war which is thought provoking. I emailed him the following:

Mr. Herbert. I kept in touch with Howard Zinn mostly via email since his view of history spellbound me as a student at Boston University. I never got him out of my blood. About two weeks before his death I saw him at a local restaurant near Boston and exchanged a few words. In his last email to me, discussing current events, he counted you as one of his NYT favorites. I can see why. Your editorial today was brilliant as it always is. I hear Prof. Zinn's voice through your opinion, most especially, on utterly endless futile war.

I am stymied, though, unlike he was, about, most especially, Afghanistan. I simply do not know. Prof. Zinn, of course, came down heavily on the anti-war side in nearly ALL of America’s excursions since WWII. I agreed with him on most things and yet I have a question mark about this one.

What I wanted to happen after 9/11 when the world was on our side was to go into Afghanistan which we did, topple the Taliban which we DID and then go after Bin Laden and Mullah Omar which we did BUT someone close to the top nixed that important order to take them out. Why? My guess is because of Iraq, Bush’s senseless war which he wanted to wage at all costs and even if we did not have the money to pay for it. Iraq now is decimated. The people who are left there live lives of desperation. Had we done what I just explained, we could have killed Bin Laden and Mullah Omar in Tora Bora, TRULY declared victory and left but we did not. We are now in an existential NO EXIT war. There is NO question, as I understand things, that there will be one or two or three or 3000 new indoctrinated Al Qaeda recruits who will do ANYTHING, including obtaining a nuclear weapon, possibly from Pakistan, to get us.

Pakistan is in TERRIBLE shape. There are floods, suicide bombings and the Islamists are taking full advantage of the chaos. The ten million dollars the US has given in aid is lost in the crowd. Academics have often said PAKISTAN is the REAL threat. I am worried. Thankfully, I am not the one making the decisions. I simply do not know WHAT the correct move should be. What risk should we all be willing to take? Bush made the stakes even higher than they had to be and this president, I believe, does NOT know what to do with the cards he was dealt. Some Americans, the president is quite correct, have historical amnesia. This quagmire was not Obama's idea. Iraq depleted US forces making it nearly impossible to succeed in Afghanistan which clearly we could have done then and may, indeed, still NEED to do now.

What you say about the country not sharing the burden is correct. War MUST be declared AND must be fought with the majority of the country’s support. It is what propelled us toward success against a fearsome Nazi and Japanese foe in WWII and it is what should propel us now. Five tours of duty for a soldier should be ILLEGAL. This is NOT what our Founders envisioned because they KNEW leaders could take advantage of troops they did not see and fight wars they themselves did not personally fight. The draft is the ONLY equalizer. The rich, the poor, the uneducated and the educated MUST be in the effort together. I am sure if that were the case our leaders, now, would think twice, three and even four times before they EVER waged war again!