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The True Enemy of Man Is War Itself

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Born during World War Two, my generation has seen a lot. We were born during war. We currently are living during a period of two endless wars. In the interim we have seen enormous tragedy, events that stagger the imagination, some knocking us to our knees and praying with a strident cry, why, oh Lord, why? Unfortunately, there is no answer. We were given free will, and we are making the best, or worst, of that Divine privilege.

This is not an autobiography, which would bore everyone, including this writer, to tears, but a story about a generation that has now become old and weary. A generation wise in what it has seen and offers advice to which no one listens. It is intended to be a storymy generation can read and try to put things into perspective. It is a story younger generations can read and try to gain some introspection. It is a story that the older generation, the Greatest Generation, what is left of them, will read with a smile and an understanding wink while thinking, "Brother, you ain't seen nothing." Meaning, my generation has never seen the worst of what humanity can do to its fellow man. That dubious honor belongs to the Greatest Generation.

The Greatest Generation. They were our mothers and fathers. They endured the worst economic world depression in the history of mankind, then fought a two-ocean, two-front war, the worst war in the history of mankind, and won it despite the efforts of the two most heinous and aggressive regimes in man's history, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. The following concept may be a little difficult for younger generations to accept. Because our parents lived through the most difficult times in human history, my generation sought answers. We wanted to know what our fathers and mothers went through. We wanted to know why some of our generation did not have fathers to cling to, or mothers in some cases, because they were dead, killed in some far off land, maybeon some island in the Pacific we cannot pronounce let alone knowwhere the hell it is. So, we found out what happened. To this day our generation lives vicariously with the events of World War Two and its total horror. The toll of the dead is so monstrous, it is almost meaningless. The point being, we became so enraptured by what happened during man's worst assault on man, many of us have to remind ourselves that we were born during WWII. We were infants and not a part of the carnage.

My generation and the generation that precedes us have serious questions regarding war being a solution to man's problems.

In addition, in the opinion of my generation and the Greatest Generation, we will never again see the leadership abilities on our nation's stage as illustrated by men like Roosevelt, Truman,Eisenhower, and Kennedy. These leaders emerged from the crucible of the Great Depression and World War Two. Such leadership qualities are gone forever.The last President molded from these twin catastrophes was George H.W. Bush. He was keenly aware of the destruction wrought by war, having survived as a World War Two fighter pilot. When many in the nation, Pentagon, and even Presidential advisors were clamoring for a march on Baghdad to remove Saddam Hussein from power at the end of the Gulf War in 1991, Bush wisely demurred. At the time, Bush's decision was unpopular. Due to the actions of his son, Americans now are fully aware of the sagacity of that decision.

Before continuing,I ask the reader to please allow a brief description of myself. Having attained a degree in history and a former educator, I am a self-described student of history. In addition, I served during the Vietnam War as a Marine Corps officer.Offering a viewpoint as a member of the academia on war and a participant in war, hopefully, the reader will consider that I have some credentials on the subject.


My generation is beset with remorse. Our lives, our memories, construct a monument to disillusionment. Any reasonable person could easily conclude that following the enormous monstrosities of World War Two, humanity should have learned the dire lessons of war. Unfortunately, that is not the case. As I speak, my beloved country is enmeshed in two endless wars, one beginning in Oct. 2001, the other in March 2003, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel for either one. Were that all? Sadly, the answer isno.

For whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee, John Donne. Within less than five years after American nuclear bombs descended on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Aug. 1945, obliterating the two huge cities in Japan and ending World War Two, North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950, plunging the United Nations and the U.S. into still another war.In October of that year, Communist China entered the war in support of the faltering N.K. troops, bringing civilization to the brink of extinction. We learned all this while we were in grade school. During the entire decade of the 1950's, the fear of a nuclear war with the Soviet Union was palpable. Following the Bay of Pigs debacle, April 1961, and the Cuban Missile Crisis, Oct. 1962 - the latter also bringing humanity to the brink of extinction - President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on November 22, 1963, while we were in college or honestly employed. Within months his successor, President Lyndon B. Johnson, plunged the U.S. into still another war, this one, in of all places, South Vietnam. The war lasted another 12 years and involved over 550,000 American troops; result: over 58,000 dead American soldiers and a resounding defeat for the U.S. At home war protests mingled with civil rights protests and many grew violent and our cities were torched. On April 4, 1968, civil rights leader Martin Luther King was assassinated. Two months later on June 6th, Robert (Bobby) Kennedy, the brother of John Kennedy, was assassinated. The ugly war in Vietnam droned on. Many of the Baby Boomers, the generation that followed ours, dropped out, creating the hippy movement and joining the drug culture. Who could blame them. However, nearly all recovered from their malaise and supplanted my generation as the nation's business, political, and military leaders. On May 4, 1970, members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed college students at Kent State, killing four students and wounding nine others. In August 1974, the House was poised to impeach an American President, Richard M. Nixon. On August 8th, Nixon resigned, becoming the only President in U.S. history to resign from office. The seventies decade ended with the Iranian Hostage Crisis. The 1980's was consumed with the Iran/Iraq War (1980-1988) and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and that war lasted from 1979 to 1989 and contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union, Christmas Day, 1991. During the Soviet/Afghan War, U.S. leaders deemed it in America's interests to provide the Soviet Union with its "Vietnam." Consequently, we armed along with other groups in Afghanistan a group Arab fighters under the command of a little-known Saudi named Osama bin Laden. Later, during the '90's he and his band became known as Al-Qa'ida.In the late 1990's, unbeknownst to Americans and their media, Al-Qa'ida declared war on the United States.

The 1980's exited with the American attack on Panama in 1989.As we entered the decade of the '90's my generation now nearly or exceeding a half century of existence, a half century ofintense turmoil,considered thatthis decade just has to be different. We had seen the very worst of what humanity can do to its fellow man. Seriously, collectively how dumbare we to allownations to use war as an instrument of policy. Surely, we have learned something. We were wrong. Man has not learned a damn thing. The '90's were merely a prelude to the devastating events of the following decade.

The decade began well enough. Saddam's Iraq invaded Kuwait in August of 1990, and, once again, the U.S. was plunged into war. But this was a short war, perhaps, a good war, if there is such a thing. It not only resulted in an American victory, but the Gulf War is considered the most efficient victory in military history. Yellow ribbons blossomed all over America, and the U.S. was once again standing tall in the face of naked aggression. Potential aggressors were given a moment of pause, bowing to American military might. In late 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed and the Cold War that lasted for decades was finally over. The U.S., once again, was poised to assume leadership of the free world with freedom, democracy, and human rights as its goals for the world. Then the cycle of violence, almost on cue, began again. Man's journey to self-destruction via war resumed, onward and upward, as they say.Two themes became apparent. First, there are certain elements on this planet that abhor American ideals. Second, America's leaders committed political suicide, almost as if we could not tolerate the success the early accomplishments of this decade promised. In the meantime America's leaders ignored a looming threat, a threat spawned in a far-off land time forgot.

In terms of sheer numbers the American policy of war did not subside in the 1990's as many hoped.In actuality wars increased in number during that decade. In addition to Iraq in the Gulf War, American troops were on the ground in wars involving Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo. On Feb. 26, 1993, a little known terrorist organization attacked the World Trade Center in New York. That same organization then attacked American embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya on Aug. 7, 1998. By now, Americans became familiar with the name of that organization - Al-Qa'ida, led by a wealthy Muslim fanatic Saudi entrepreneur named Osama bin Laden. While enmeshed in the Monica Lewinsky scanda land the House ready to lower the gavel on his impeachment, President Clinton's response was to indiscriminately fire off 75 to 100 Cruise missiles at a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan and mud and wooden shacks in southeastern Afghanistan.This was a clear violation of international law inasmuch as neither Sudan nor Afghanistan attacked the embassies. Al-Qa'ida, clearly a criminal terrorist organization, did.During the last year of the Clinton administration,on Oct. 12, 2000,Al-Qa'ida elements attacked the U.S. destroyer, Cole, while harbored at the Yemeni port of Aden. Despite all of this, there is only scant evidence that Americans and America's leaders took the threat of Al-Qa'ida seriously in the 1990's and in 2000.

As a new millennium dawned, as a fresh, young, new President named George W. Bush was about to take the mantel of leadership of the United States from an aged and exhausted Clinton, a new hope also dawned. Easily, a member of my generation could be heard shouting to a world of deaf ears, "I have had it. Read my lips, I have had it up to here. War is not the answer. We can't keep doing this. This is madness." By all appearances to many who hoped, Bush was a perfect fit. Born in Connecticut, but raised in Texas, Bush was a cowboy, or so we wanted to believe, and he had the mantra of the American frontier, a cherished view of Americans shared from coast to coast. So, he lacked the ability to be coherent. Don't we all. Who cares.Hope springs eternal, or so my generation wanted to believe at the time. The 2000 election debacle was quickly forgotten mostly because we couldn't do anything about it. If nothing else, my generation consists of pragmatists, not dreamers.

Instead, our world came crashing down upon us. It began on 9/11, and then got worse as America descended into hell via not one, but two needless wars. Those wars began in the early part of the decade and continue on to this day. In the first war, Afghanistan, Bush and Sec Def Rumsfeld sent in too few troops to actually captured bin Laden, other Al-Qa'ida leaders, and the Taliban leadership. With that struggle continuing, mostly with failure after failure, in 2002 Bush began stripping even those meager military resources from Afghanistan for a build-up of forces in invade Iraq, a nation that had nothing whatsoeverto do with 9/11 orAl-Qa'ida. Bush repeated his mistake in Afghanistan. Once again he failed to send in sufficient resources to secure Iraq. A product of manipulated intelligence, not false intelligence, the U.S. invasion of Iraqviolated both international law and the U.N. Charter. Throughout most of the "Double-ought Decade," because of his aggression in Iraq, the American President became the No. 1 terrorist in the world in the eyes of some, including many in the Western democracies, with some justification, depending upon your outlook.Our once proud nation, built on a structure ofthe proud ideals of democracy and freedom, became the scourge of the planet. The decade ended in sheer frustration. On Jan. 20, 2009, in the White House, a new sheriff was in town. He brought with him hope and change. However, Obama faced many virulent challenges, hubris left over from the previous administration. Consequently, as this morbid decade ended, very little hope and change has manifested itself.The decade ended with two more terrorist attacks in the American heartland. OnNov. 6, an Islamic terrorist, a U.S. Army major - can you believe it - killed 13 American soldiers and civilians at Fort Hood, Texas. On Christmas Day an Islamic terrorist tried and failed to kill 300 people aboard a commercial airliner bound for Detroit. As the decade mercilessly ended,deaths in both Iraq and Afghanistan now including Pakistanwas on the rise. One writer put it this way.

As the first decade of this millennium ends, so ends a decade of death. It started with the death of 3000 people and ends in sorrow for 5,289 American families that have lost loved ones in wars the current administration calls an "overseas contingency operation."

Sigh!

There is one thing I would like to make perfectly clear. I am no pacifist, not by a long shot. If our nation is attacked, we must not respond in kind. We must respond with overwhelming vigor and firepower with an abundant use of target intelligence to avoid collateral damage as much as humanly possible. Those conditions were not met in the case of our two current wars.

As for my generation, in terms of promoting peace and prosperity in the world through our wisdom and guidance, one can only describe our results as mission failure. We can only hope that future generations will do better, much better, for we accomplished nothing. Unfortunately, it is the generations that came after uswho are responsible of lateforthe massive devastation, misery, and the continued use of war as an instrument of foreign policy. America must change or the world and circumstances will change us ... and it won't be good.









 

I am the author of two novels, "The Bode Testament" and "Impeachment." I am also a columnist who keeps a wary eye on other columnists and the failures of the MSM (mainstream media). I was born in Minnesota, and, to this day, I love the Vikings (more...)
 
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