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Honor the veteran, but . . .

The New York Times > Opinion > By the Light of Other Wars

This is as good a memorial Day editorial I have seen, but it still leaves me with a dull, sinking feeling about this sad day. It concludes:

Today, each generation looks back to its own war World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the gulf war and Iraq. In each of those wars, a soldier's death was final, the sense of duty and service as acute as in any other war. In that sense, the meaning of those deaths has not changed over time. What is different, for each of those wars, is the sense of national necessity that lay behind them. Some of America's wars have truly been fought for the very principles that underpin this nation's existence. Others have not. But nothing can dishonor the dead, not even the failures of the living.

Amd which of our wars was necessary?

The Revoiution?

a. Non-violent resistance was having a significant impact in our favor.
b. A few young hot heads wanted to fight primarily over taxes.
c. Was the result really better? Look at the history of Canada or Australia and look at the result and ask yourself that question.

I ignore the war of 1812 because I haven't looked at it closely, but certainly the Mexican War was not justified. It was as bad, if not worse, than our war against Iraq.

How about the war that killed more Americans than any other - Civil War?

1. Well, it was not fought to free the slaves - though that was a relatively noble result, one has to ask if over the long stretch of history we would not have had better race relations if we had followed a more gradual course in this respect. Sucha course was being advocated by cooler heads in the South at the time - and like Communiist Rusia, slavery would have died of its own weight over time. Ending it abruptly was a better solution for the moment, but did it really provide a better solution for the long run?

2. It was fought to preserve the Union - that's what most soldiers in the North thought they were fighting for and soldiers in the South saw themselves a revolutionaries trying to set up their own country. Their reasoning wasn;t that different from our reasons to break away from England.. Why was the preservation of this union so holy? Why would a contract entered into by our ancestors have to be honored today? Would the world be that much different if there was a Confederate States of America today? Was this worth more than half a million young lives and the aftermath of resentment that continues to this day?

The Spanish American War ? Another very questionable adventure. So was WWI - it was "the war to end all wars," a nobel cause totally lost in a vicious peace that sowed the seeds for WWII.

WWII? This is arguably the most necessary. But I would argue that it appeared necessary - perhaps was - only because of man's blunders and ineptitude in ending the War which preceded it. A more just peace - a wise and strong League of Nations - could have prevented things ever getting to the stage where 70 million people lost their lives in WWII,

And, of course, we failed to convince the world to create a just peace and we did not even support the League of Nations. You reap what you sow. And why did Japan attack us? For oil. Sound familiar?

The Korean War? Well, look at the result. We still have one of the most inhumane regimes in the world in North Korea - and one of the most dangerous. So what did we really accomplish there?

Vietnam speaks for itself - and it is slowly becoming clear to people that the Iraq war is not making anything better. And Afghanistan is still a mess and the reason we went in there is Al Quaeda and they are stronger than ever.

So let us remember today - but let us remember more than the honored dead. Let us remember the living who sent them to their deaths out of incompetence - out of the failure of our leaders to be able to settle serious differences the way most people all over the world - and children in kindergarten - settle such differences every day - without resorting to violence.

War is stupid - and the apprent gains over the short run are always negated by long-term losses and embittered relations that set the climate for the next conflict.

No civilized nation allows its citizens to kill one another. Why should any nation be allowed to killt the citizens of another nation? I we can control killing within our various political boundaries, why can't we control this madd murder we call "war?"

Posted by Greg Stone at May 31, 2004 04:23 AM
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