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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 11/29/20

Joe Biden and the American Shame of War

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Message John Grant

Sadly, my generation had to relearn the lessons of Vietnam in Iraq and Afghanistan. But in coming to terms with our defeat, we have a chance to ensure that we do not sacrifice future generations to such folly.

- Timothy Kudo, Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, from a NYC op-ed

I'm sure President-Elect Joe Biden had some choice words when he heard about the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in an ambush on an Iranian highway. Killings like this are naturally furtive acts undertaken by experts in the art of wetwork. Yet, it's a no-brainer that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is behind it with a stubby thumbs-up from Lameduck US President Donald Trump. The question on everyone's mind is: Can this odious duo (with the help of Saudi butcher Mohammed bin Salmon) permanently destroy a serious peace effort and replace it with a new Middle East war fever?

The legacies of our two Middle East/SW Asia Wars have come in for some pretty bad analysis and conclusions lately. I expect even Joe Biden, who supported those wars enthusiastically, would admit they both turned out to be ill-advised and very costly adventures. The cost to US tax-payers for these debacles is estimated to be as high as $6 trillion that's with a "t." While we're at it, we might as well add the Drug War to that list of debacles. To the many militarists in our government, they all seemed like the right thing to do at the moment.

George W. Bush's Iraq War was going to bring democracy to Iraq; yet, what it actually did was turn the keys to Iraq over to the Shiite majority that had been brutally oppressed for years by Iraq's Sunni minority. Those Shiites, of course, were close allies with neighboring Shiites in Iran. During WWI, the Brits had helped set up the Sunni/Shiite arrangement that eventually led to the Sunni rule of Saddam Hussein, the despotic leader we were certain was amassing nuclear weapons. This led to brutal house-to-house assaults, torture and targeted killings in Sunni Anbar Province in Iraq, which, in turn, led to the rise of a truly psychotic insurgency called ISIS. This motley band of vengeance-minded crazies lacked the highly sophisticated weapons of terror the United States likes to employ against benighted places like Iraqi. But ISIS was nothing if not creative and made up for its shortcomings in weaponry by relying on sensational videos of heroic, young Sunni warriors slicing off the heads of their enemies, some of them Americans. The horror stunned Americans and made them more inclined to endorse massive bombings as the only workable policy.

In the end, Iraq a nation that under Saddam Hussein had been approaching first-world levels of sophistication in some areas of culture and society was driven to ground to become for the foreseeable future a basket case. In 2003 and 2004, I made two 12-hour trips via SUV from Amman, Jordon, to Baghdad through Anbar Province; at truck stops and other opportunities along the way, I met a number of talkative Iraqis who made it quite clear to me they viscerally hated my leader, George W. Bush. I'm convinced some of these men likely become part of ISIS.

One of the diplomatic efforts the Obama/Biden team did that much of the world applauded was the Iran Nuclear Deal; Secretary of State John Kerry worked hard on this with the Iranian foreign minister. As did Jake Sullivan, now designated by Biden as his national security adviser. But, then, Donald Trump with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's encouragement torpedoed the peace deal and lay new, crippling sanctions on Iran. Trump went on to assassinate Iran's rock star military leader, Qasem Soleimani. Now, Trump and Netanyahu are determined to do all they can to destroy any chance for re-vitalizing the Iran peace deal once Biden takes office.

So why doesn't Joe Biden say something? The suggestion is he's reluctant to heat up an already hot situation. Is he reluctant because it would entail criticism of Israel? You'd think he'd have no qualms about calling Donald Trump out for such a belligerent and illegal act. But to tangle over a Mossad murder with Likud's Benjamin Netanyahu? So far, we've heard from the head of the Obama/Biden Administration's CIA, John Brennon, who wrote on Twitter that, "This was a criminal act & highly reckless. It risks lethal retaliation & a new round of regional conflict." But nothing from Biden, himself.

All we hear is stories about the dozens of WestExec corporate militarists like Anthony Blinken and Michele Flournoy being appointed to lead Biden's foreign policy team. These talented people have lined their pockets with defense industry connections; if the Trump/Netanyahu gambits are able to foment a 21st century de-centered war with Iran, are these corporate warriors going to resist or feel force to go along?

I know it's graceless to say, "We told you so!" But the responsible peace and anti-war movement advocated and protested against the debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan until we were blue in the face. From my vantage point as a Vietnam veteran peace activist, American corporate militarism always seems to trump (if the pun works, so be it) those advocating for peaceful and diplomatic responses to international problems. These humble, constructive approaches are often relegated to the aftermath of our debacles, after the hatred has reached murderous levels, when peace-seeking becomes a pathetic, last-ditch, often futile, exercise.

Vis-a-vis Iran, it would be good if, for a change, we practiced preemptive peace-making rather than operating as if peace can only be obtained through domination. That is, the approach expressed by my neighbor's bumper sticker:


Recently, an Iraq and Afghanistan Marine combat veteran named Timothy Kudo wrote a powerful op-ed in the New York Times. He opens his piece by noting that Trump's reduction of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to 2,500 soldiers in each warzone began as a high in Iraq of 170,000 soldiers and Afghanistan of 100,000.

"This drawdown makes explicit what those of us who served in the military have long realized: We lost. . . . For the roughly three million service members whose boots touched soil in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 19 years, our defeat is a uniquely personal loss."

[ Kudo's NYT op-ed: Click Here ]

Unlike President Trump, Captain Kudo is an honest, courageous and compassionate man unafraid to recognize Truth when it's in front of his face and courageous enough to articulate the unpleasant fact that the US "lost" those very costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both launched in an ignorance- and fear-driven haze following the attacks on September 11th. As FDR eloquently warned, fear-itself took hold of American leaders and made them do some really stupid things like invade Iraq when Iraq had nothing to do with the attack on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon.

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I'm a 72-year-old American who served in Vietnam as a naive 19-year-old. From that moment on, I've been studying and re-thinking what US counter-insurgency war means. I live outside of Philadelphia, where I'm a writer, photographer and political (more...)

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