Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Absolutely Nothing? My Response to a Fellow Veteran’s Indictment of the Iraq War

Retired US Navy Chief Warrant Officer Jim Wright has an opinion, and by damn he wants to share it. If you have not seen it yet, please take a moment (or five) and read Wright's recent rant.

Mission Accomplished?

Welcome back!

--good god, ya'll!--

What is it good for?"

Absolutely nothing?

As rants go, I think we'd all have to agree, that one is mighty good: relentlessly fiery, brutally direct, and straight to the heart. Bam, bam, bam, BOOM! But I implore you, dear reader, with tears in my eyes, read the rant for entertainment, not for enlightenment.

Two points for my fellow Veteran, Mr. Wright, (and all of us) to consider:

(1) War is a necessary evil, 
(2) We get the leaders we deserve (especially in a democracy), and
(3) Sometimes I say, "Two points" and then think of a third and try to add it real quick. That does not make me a liar or a bad person. The truth changes. Let's not look at a gray world through black or white lenses.

Allow me to further illustrate and expand upon my points, 1 through n.

(1) To say that war is "good for absolutely nothing" is incredibly naive.  No one hates war more than those who must do the fighting, but as Pliny said, "Only the dead have seen the end of war." The warrior class understands the way to end war is to build and maintain a strong defense. No amount of ranting about the evils of war will ever fix human nature. Human beings have banded together to do violence upon enemies, real or perceived, since time immemorial. The quickest way to the dustbin of history is to be a weak, feckless, easy mark for aggressors. I am not advocating war. I am just saying that Vikings, pirates, and Imperialists are real, and you can either (a) join them, (b) defend yourself and your spoils, (c) live in fear, hoping your luck holds out, or (d) be a victim (and even if you smile while getting kicked, you are still getting kicked). This is not a defense of war or a glorification of combat or a call to arms. I do not advocate starting fights for the hell of it. That said, not all wars pass the Just War Theory or even the smell test. History is replete with bad wars. 

(2) To blame a bad or unjust war on leaders is to forget who empowered those leaders in the first place. This point is especially valid for the inhabitants of a democratic Republic such as the US of A. Mr. Wright's rant spares few people in Coalition leadership positions. He rips into Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Romney, McCain, Blair, the Koch brothers, and Rush Limbaugh with equal glee. Even poor Colin Powell gets eviscerated for not knowing better. Yet none of these people took their positions of authority by force. They have influence because We the Sheeple listen to them and either do what they say or do nothing to stop them. And for those of you sad souls living under a harsh dictatorship, may I remind you of point #1 above? You have options, too. A righteous revolt is Just War Theory approved, and further evidence of war's necessity.   

(3) To follow, like, or share Mr. Wright's rant is hopefully nothing more serious than to enjoy a little entertainment, not unlike forwarding this famous clip from Newsroom. Mr. Wright's savage tongue-lashing is a hoot to read! But once again I beg you, with tears in my eyes, do not take the rantings of this disgruntled man as enlightenment. His emotion-drenched pleadings and after-the-fact exaggerations completely miss the point of the war in Iraq, and yes, there was a point.

Here is the point: Look at the neighborhood around Israel and imagine Turkey, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia holding the line. Syria is geographically isolated from Russia and Iran. Now look closer. What happens to global security when a democratic and westward leaning Iraq collapses into a radical warlord-led, Caliphate-seeking, Israel-hating tribe? What if the borders created after WWI collapse, and Iraq simply disappears into a single theocracy running from the western border of Afghanistan to the eastern border of Lebanon and the northern border of Jordan? Coalition forces left Iraq too soon, and now ISIS has filled the void. See what I mean?  What's next?  Iraq falls at great peril to peace and stability in the Middle East and thus to our way of life.

Here is the bottom line. Too many people bemoan the price of war without consideration for cost of freedom. All I want is to delay Armageddon long enough for my children to grow up and enjoy a good life. Mr. Wright believes that someone has been sniffing too many "flying magic bunny rainbow farts." I believe that his diagnosis may be correct, though I am not sure he has identified the correct patient. Don't let it be you!

Flying mint bunny is farting sparkles and rainbows! 

"Peace love and understanding tell me
Is there no place for them today?
They say we must fight to keep our freedom
But Lord, there’s got to be a better way

"War what is it good for?
Absolutely nothing…" 

- Edwin Starr, “War” 1969

Flying Mint Bunny is a copyright of Hidekaz Himaruya
Mr. Wright's post was published by Americans Against the Tea Party (AATTP)
Wikipedia offers these notes about Edwin Starr's version of the iconic anti-war song quoted herein.