Columns 2017

A country of war

I’m probably not the only person in this world who is very, very glad to say goodbye to 2016. It was a horrible year. And I’m not just talking about the Orangeman’s election. Yes, that will probably be the downfall of democracy and our country as we know it, but it still wasn’t the worst part of 2016. That honor goes to the endless wars in the Middle East.

We are now in our 15th year of war there and are no closer to solving the problem of terrorism than we were the day after 9/11. In fact, there are some who believe that between the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan, we have spent billions upon billions of dollars with the only concrete result being the formation of ISIS and the hate of people whose homes we’ve destroyed with our drones. It seems as though our war on terrorism has actually been the best recruiting tool ISIS could have asked for.

Imagine how Americans would feel if Russia spent 15 years trying to bomb us into submissive obedience to an Orangeman’s administration. Isn’t that essentially what we’ve tried to do in the Middle East – establish governments and use force to get the population to agree with our choices. And we’ve seen how well that’s worked in the past. Remember the Shah of Iran? Ngo Dinh Diem in Vietnam?

Of course, if the Middle East didn’t have resources we wanted, we would probably not give a damn about who their leader was and what he was doing to his people. See North Korea for an example of this.

Eisenhower warned us decades ago about letting the military industrial complex take over our country. Sadly, this seems to be exactly what has happened. Recent reports show that America was the leading exporter of weapons in the international market again this year. We have become the greatest exporter of munitions the world has ever seen. Next to mandatory program spending, the military takes up the greatest part of our national budget. Yet no one would claim with any credibility that we are safer now than we were 15 years ago.

It’s not the military’s fault. They are trained to do a job and go where the old gray heads in DC send them to do it. The reality is that they have been sent into a theater of war to fight amid battles that started in the BC’s. These conflicts resolved nothing and have had no winner for thousands of years.

We have expended the youth of almost two generations on wars for which no one in DC can really delineate what a win would actually look like. The end of terrorism? Stable governments? Democracy?

Seems to me that after 15 years of nonstop war someone in DC should have realized that maybe, just maybe, this strategy isn’t working. In fact, for every civilian we accidentally bomb, for every child who is in the wrong place at the wrong time and catches an American bullet, we can be pretty sure we create more ISIS terrorists than we deter.

America has seemingly become a country of war. If we don’t like what you’re doing, we’ll just declare war on you. Whether it’s the war on drugs or the war on terrorism, what will it take for those in power in DC to understand that we have not had a “successful” war since World War II, except possibly the first Gulf War. But since that ultimately led to the second one, it doesn’t count – and neither does Reagan’s war on a tropical beach. Essentially, America has been in an almost constant state of warfare since 1950 with very few victories to show for it.

So maybe, just maybe, war isn’t the answer the way it wasn’t in Korea, Vietnam or any country in the Middle East.

What the war has successfully created is a population of vets with needs we can’t meet because we’re overcommitted to war. We send these men and women out as whole beings and when they return with broken bodies we tell them to stand in line and hope the care doesn’t run out before they get to the head of the line.

Somewhere in the past fifty years, America seems to have lost its way. Sadly, this new administration is unlikely to change the path we’re on. So buckle up, folks. The ride looks to be as bumpy for the next four years as it has been since we chose war as our knee jerk reaction to everything.