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Who's Responsible for Iraq? We Are

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I've been reading The Washington Post, particularly William M. Arkin's column, and the arguments that have broken out since he used the word "mercenary" to describe the American soldier fighting in Iraq. I have had almost the same experiences when I wrote an article "Anti-War shouldn't mean Anti-Military". Apparently that struck a nerve with people. I received comments that absolutely vilified me. I don't care. I've been doing some thinking about this, and I believe that what I've come up with might help some people put this argument of "should we hold individual soldiers responsible for fighting in an unpopular and immoral war responsible" to bed.

Some people that wrote said that The United States should not maintain a standing army because it's a violation of the Constitution. Nice try, it won't wash. The Constitution calls for a well-trained militia and not a standing army that's true, but that was the 1780's not now. It would be utterly impossible to defend this nation with only National Guard and Reserve troops. How do I know this? I wrote the deployment plan for maintenance company in The New York Army National Guard and that's how I know. It can take months to bring a unit to combat-ready status. Back in the 1700's, they didn't have the same requirements that we put on the military of today. You just can't scream "suit-up" and have a company or Battalion ready to fight in a few days. Thus we have a standing Army.

The standing Army didn't really become accepted practice until World War I. We had a very small standing Army before that. After World War I, we realized that in this modern industrialized world, that if we wanted to remain ready to defend the nation, a larger standing Army would be needed, The American Army in the beginning of our involvement in WWI, proved that the level of our training was so poor, that they had to be put under allied command. Pershing and others vowed that it should never happen again.

We also have nations out there (like North Korea) that doesn't see the total uselessness of war. Hence, they have over one million men, in a modern, well-equipped army. It would be great if we could convince them and most other countries that it's wrong to have a permanent standing Army, but you really don't want to be the first country that does it. Not unless you only want to put your faith in ICBM's. That would certainly make any war into a nuclear holocaust. I already explained what happened to Carthage, but I'll explain it again for people that didn't read it the first time.

Rome in the Second Punic War defeated Carthage (That's the one Hannibal was in, and no, not Hannibal Lechter). The Carthaginians lost big time. The Romans, being civilized and all, offered Carthage their independence from Rome, providing they didn't keep a standing Army. Rome offered to be the "defender" of Carthage and they had to pay a tax for the privilege. The Carthaginians agreed, and for a few years this agreement worked great. The Nubians to the south of Carthage thought is was a great idea too, and started confiscating Carthaginian lands. Carthage asked the Romans to stop them. Rome didn't help them. The Carthaginians, not wanting to lose their precious farmlands, told the Romans that they would re-arm if they wouldn't intercede. The Romans told Carthage that if they did, then Carthage would be destroyed. Carthage, with all its wealth and military know-how, tried to put an army together. With every resource at hand they managed to equip and train almost 18,000 soldiers before Rome's Army arrived. It was all in vain. The Third Punic War left Carthage, a once proud city, burned to the ground, and all it's inhabitants slain or sold into slavery. Nice story. It's true.

It's also true that the same people that are against gun control are against it because they fear the government (some groups). I have a gun. I also believe that we should be allowed to defend ourselves. What I don't believe in are so called gun collectors that have 15 AK 47's and 10 M-16's. That isn't a gun collector that's an armorer. What's that got to do with the military? Simple. Just because I believe that we should have a standing Army, I don't believe we should be spending 40 times more than the country that holds 2nd place in military spending. There should be civilian oversight on how much money should be spent on our military. When we spend that much money, it stands to reason that we could get a little trigger-happy. Why spend so much just to see your weapons rust and become obsolete? That amount of military spending begs some in government to become militaristic. Instead of a military to defend, at what point does it become an offensive military? That is Congresses fault. The House and Senate Armed Services Committees should stop the rampant militarism that has taken over politics in Washington. This must be done by the people. When the people, like Congress, are asleep at the wheel, It just gets worse.

Let's get back to responsibility. Who is responsible for war? Well, that's a tricky subject. It rests between the President and Congress. It also has factors that contribute, like nations abused by clandestine organizations, diplomatic mistakes, and national sentiment. The final decisions though, about whether we go to war or not, eventually rests with The President with the authorization from Congress. The individual has absolutely no say in whether or not he is called to war, save his one vote at the ballot box.

When the communists took over Russia, they had a Democratic Army. They actually voted on Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers, the more popular the man, the higher the rank. This came to an abrupt halt when in the late 1930's, when Russia and Germany were trying to carve up Poland, the Russian Army had it's head served to them on a platter by the Poles. The Polish Army was still riding horses and the Russians had tanks, and they were still losing. Earlier, Stalin had "purged" the Soviet Officer Corps. This "Democratic" Army couldn't chew gum and walk at the same time. It couldn't last; democratic armies don't work.

The same way that a single soldier does not have the right to decide what war is moral to him, and what wars aren't. If we were to leave it to the individual soldier whether or not he or she wants to participate in a war, we wouldn't have a chance at winning any war, or of having the Army even show up! (Which might be a good thing in the case of Iraq). Still, the reality is that when a person signs that paper, he or she knowingly give up their constitutional rights for The Uniform Code of Military Justice, and they have no say about it. For American's to take out their anger about the war on the individual soldier is a terrible thing to do. If the war is wrong in your opinion (and mine), the people that are responsible is not the guy or girl in the field getting wounded or maybe crippled for obeying the lawful orders of superiors, but the President and the Senators that sent them there.

Our Armed Forces are there to protect and serve our nation. I don't, like many of you, believe that this huge Military Industrial Complex is anything but bad for this nation. I believe that it really is the root of all evil. I have publicly said so on many occasions. We don't need a military that has become the behemoth that our military has become. We could be putting this money into education, and localization. We could be using this money to find alternative fuels and prevent global warming. The truth is, this war in Iraq was unnecessary and immoral. Still, we don't need to blame or hate the individual soldier that has gone over there to fight it. Just remember this, we are their bosses. The taxpayers. The President and The Senate work for us, as does the military. I know that Americans were asleep at the wheel during Bush's march to war. Half of the people in this peace movement didn't come to the peace movement until we started losing this war. I watched it. You can disagree with me, but I was against this war all along, and at times I dare not open my mouth because most everyone I saw was watching this war like a football game.

If we had won this war in the first year, there wouldn't have been a march to Washington. We wouldn't have a Democratic Congress and the Keith Olbermann's. It took years before there was an organized peace movement. Now there are those that are blaming the individual soldier. Just like in my last article, a soldier is but a tool. How you use that tool is up to The President and Congress. That brings the responsibility, ultimately, to you. Like any tool, you want it to work when you use it. The American military works. It has been misused, but it works. There will be those that say I am preaching propaganda, but what I have said is not propaganda, it's history. People that don't understand history are doomed to repeat it. Those guys' names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall were people just like us. Most of them didn't want to be in Vietnam, but the people allowed it to happen, just as the people allowed this war in Iraq to happen. My world came apart when the people didn't rise up after Bush invaded Iraq. I've been to this movie before; this is just a remake of Vietnam, different names, same basic plot.
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Tim Gatto is Ret. US Army and has been writing against the Duopoly for the last decade. He has two books on Amazon, Kimchee Days or Stoned Colds Warriors and Complicity to Contempt.

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