Posted by: minnow | March 7, 2008

Peace Costs

I hate war. Not because there is never a reason for war. And not because, war never solves anything. I hate war because I am a mother.

That said something else needs to be said—peace always costs.

We did not have to take up arms, travel half way around the world and pursue a battle on the other side of the playground (in Iraq), even if we knew we could remove the bully and the playground would be better off. We could have said we choose peace. We will not risk our children. We will not spend our tax dollars. We have no business over there. We said it before, why not now?

We fought Hitler in World War II because Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, and Germany and Japan were linked. We did not care when Hitler invaded Europe one country at a time and Jews (and Gypsies and homosexuals and “imbeciles”) were worked to death and then slaughtered in mass graves or burned in concentration camp ovens. Oh, we did not mind profiting as the “arsenal of democracy”, extending loans under the Lend-Lease Act, and allowing our own economy to recover from the Great Depression. Our objections to the war were a matter of principle, not economics.

Don’t get me wrong, I have complete respect for those who honestly say, “even if facing death (or worse) I will not take up arms”. As for the rest of us, our true colors were revealed after 9/11. Party lines did not matter then. When the bully threatened our side of the playground we were ready to fight! And at first, only a few of us cared who we labeled the bully.

Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein was a madman. We were taking out Hussein. And while Osama Bin Laden has been like a vapor, we found Saddam relatively quickly, unshaven and babbling in a hole. His monuments to himself toppled. His elite army barely resisting. At least one of the two accusations we made against him was true.

Not many in the U. S. have personal experience with the kind of brutality Saddam Hussein inflicted on his own people. But, we only began quoting his resume as a bully after our “reasons for attacking Iraq” were shown to be, shall we say, elusive. To suggest in hind sight that we had an obligation to take out Hussein because we once helped him maintain his power, does not quite sit right. We can try to justify our past policy by suggesting—“there was a greater evil.” But the truth is, at the time, our selfish best interest was to support Hussein. So we did. Just as our selfish best interest post 9/11 seemed to be to take him out.

America is a blessed nation. But maintaining our blessings has too often given us some strange bedfellows. Saddam Hussein is gone. Few if any will miss him. He will never terrorize his people again. At the same time, Iraq is on the verge of a civil war and we have played a key role is creating the instability that now ravages that country. We must face our part in the chaos, set our selfish best interests aside, and do what we can to give the present government a chance to survive.

Our presence in Iraq right now provides America with three options. We can become the new bully, which is easy when you think the world revolves around you. We can cut our losses and get out, which is also easy when political self interest is your bottom line. Or, we can ensure the Iraqi people the freedom to set their own course.

If good is to come from the war in Iraq, America must put aside our self interest. We must remain in Iraq long enough to stabilize the government the Iraqi people chose and then we must leave.

I believe American is standing at a horizon. We have been climbing this hill ever since Viet Nam. As corny as it sounds we are looking at a defining moment in our history as a nation. At first I resisted any comparisons between the War in Iraq and Viet Nam. I did not understand Viet Nam and what I knew of it seemed only to be painful or insane. I wanted to see the taking down of Hussein as something noble—we stopped a bully, a bad guy. But then the country started to fall apart and giving the Iraqis their freedom was not as easy as we thought it would be.

Now many of our own frightened and angry, voices are crying out. The tune is hauntingly familiar—“Get out! We don’t belong! We’re the bad guys! Shame on us!” I do not want to join that chorus. I do not want to put my tail between my legs and go hide under the table. I do not want to treat the War in Iraq like View Nam. I prefer to learn from my mistakes and failures. I do not want Viet Nam to forever have been in vain.

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