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End the Cycle of War

By John Peebles  Posted by Rob Kall (about the submitter)     Permalink
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Why are some nations so inclined to repeat their
mistakes? American military interventions are a cycle
of repeated errors. A choice to intervene is made, its
consequences are felt, then forgotten, and the initial
mistake is repeated again later, elsewhere. Some
nations remember their errors through their collective
conscience as painful memories are stirred back to
life. Others seem content to let the lessons of
history go unlearned.

What mistake has the US made again and again which
earns it such infamy in the rest of the world? The
choice to make war, invade and occupy.

Countries make mistakes; those that learn from their
mistakes tend to do better and adopt, while those that
continue to make the same errors are destined to
notoriety, if not outright extinction. Errant nations,
who act unilaterally, without respect for the rights
of others, are eventually made to stand in the corner,
separated from the rest of the world community. The US
at the end of the Vietnam was such a country, so
divided it loathed even itself.

Perhaps the greatest good that can come out of a
mistake is the realization a mistake has been made.
Correction follows if the country has a conscience or
at least enough of a memory to avoid repeating the
mistake.

Vietnam needn 't have happened. Yet the US government
squandered billions of dollars and thousands of lives
in a drawn out occupation against a nationalistic
guerilla force in Asia. Sound familiar?

In Iraq, we can admit our mistake, and learn from it.
Sure, we screwed up the first time, in Vietnam,
where --like now --we were so sure of ourselves at first.
Rather than face another intervention as a lesson
learned at the end of a long line of carcasses, we can
atone for a mistake made 40 years ago in Vietnam. We
can get out of Iraq.

Those who fought in Vietnam did not die in vain if the
end result of that war was that we learned something
of value. It was a simple lesson: do not occupy a
hostile land without clear goals and a timeframe for
departure.

If our presence is welcomed, so be it. If not, we need
to respect the right of other nations to solve their
own problems and stay out of it. Since the Cold War,
Americans have been vulnerable to military-industrial
establishment and pro-war types who are constantly
urging us to strike at what they perceive as evil in
the world. In our present day case, the highly
trumpeted global menace is terror, not Communism. Is
peace in the best interest of those who seek war, or
does continued occupation (and inevitable resistance)
do more to serve their financial and political aims?
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There is one lesson from war and it is this: war
achieves nothing positive. Yes, war can reach goals
and aims, but the pursuit of war is an ugly cluster of
untold sacrifice, loss of life, destruction, and pure
hatred.

Wars can produce ends to evil, and in that they are
possibly justified. Still, when a war is allowed to go
on and on, leaving a tide of destruction and loss in
its wake, churning away endlessly with no end in
sight, nothing productive can be said of it.

Often the effects of war are borne as Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder in the souls of brave soldiers.
Depleted uranium used in the First Gulf War poisoned
thousands of returning veterans, and the deaths by
suicide of so many Vietnam veterans came after their
silent suffering through the horrors of their war,
relived ceaselessly in dreams like some eternal
private hell. We are content to let our soldiers bear
these scars of war; their silent suffering goes
ignored by the rest of us, who know nothing, see
nothing.

There is hope, though, in the wisdom of collective
knowledge gained through the pain of war, among not
only those who suffered directly from it, but from
those who feel compassion for all those who suffer
because of our wars. We can remove scars of wars past
which are so eager to mark our future; we simply need
to assume responsibility as individuals for what our
nation does in our "defense. "

Is resolving this issue (ending the threat of terror)
possible through occupying Afghanistan and Iraq? We
need to step back from the intense conflagration of
emotions, fear, and hatred. We need to move beyond the
realm of vengeance towards peace and reconciliation
with our enemies, Jesus would say.
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Look at the Middle East now. It 's a cauldron of hate
and animosity towards us. And what has all that hate
done for the countries there? Is there any benefit to
nurturing endless grudges? What can people hope to
gain by attacking one another in endless cycles of
retribution? Bush takes a strange path toward peace,
one that resembles more a tightening bear-hug with the
Arab world, rather than a turning away,
Christian-like, from the temptations of vengeance and
destruction that describe war in all its forms.

The Bush Administration has failed to learn from the
mistake of Vietnam. Donald Rumsfeld (Vietnam deferee)
must resign immediately and face the shame and
disgrace of Guantanamo and our treatment of prisoners
whose Geneva rights were violated. Is this how we want
America to be perceived, like some big brute breathing
a hate-filled stench of oppression over the Iraqi and
Afghan peoples?

The price for the continued occupation of Iraq is too
high and the reward too little. What is it that we
will gain by the continued cost of life? Will the
return on our investment --most notably not in dollars,
but in and the sacrifice of our soldiers ' cherished
lives --produce greater benefit as time goes on, or will
their lives and our dollars buy less and less? Why
spend money and life on a cause for which there can be
no outcome or result that warrants such extravagant
risk? Should our soldiers be asked to give so much for
so little?

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