Thursday, September 29, 2011

No More War

You hear this a lot lately.  We should get out of Iraq, get out of Afghanistan and Libya, spend the money at home.

Well, of course we should get out of Iraq; we never had any serious business in Iraq.  If we had really wanted to block Al Qaeda, which is what they said they wanted at the time, Saddam Hussein was our best friend, a secular dictator with no tolerance for anyone else's power.  But that train has left the station.

We should have had better sense than to get tangled up in Afghanistan, too.  The British Empire was in Afghanistan for generations and they never managed to do much more than control the roads.  The Russian army went up against Afghanistan in the '80s and bounced - helped by the U.S., who armed the people who are now aiming those arms at us.  Afghan society is tribal, largely illiterate, and rural Afghans (the majority) are deeply suspicious of anybody they haven't known from birth.  Trouble is, we have no way right now to leave Afghanistan without major loss of face; and avoiding loss of face is a big reason people go to war at all.

We aren't really in Libya, at least we've managed to avoid putting any troops in there - which is as it should be.  But we sure seem to be spending a lot of bucks on logistical support.

In spite of all the noble sentiments I hear, I don't really believe we'll ever get rid of war.  As long as we have records of humans, we have records of humans at war.  Some of the earliest Cro-Magnon tools?  Spear points.  Beautifully crafted spear points.  Of course they used them for hunting; the question is, hunting what?  Humans must like war a lot; we do it all the time, and the less educated we are, the more we think war is a good solution.  Ask the Taliban.  We're a violent bunch, when you get down to it.

We forget, between wars, how awful war is; and the people who haven't experienced war don't really get how awful it is, which is why we treat our veterans so casually.  And why we keep starting new wars.  Our taste for killing, if possible at a considerable distance, has led us to develop ever more effective arms (more on that in a separate post), until we've finally made war so dangerous it really could dispose of all of us.

Blessed are the peacemakers - but they sure are outnumbered.

1 comment:

  1. We need to think more strategically. Actually we need to think a lot more, period.

    Bush & his advisors held a meeting in Texas, while the Supremes were still deciding who would take office. The Republicans, in other words, were already planning an Iraq invasion, before 9/11 even happened. Ordinarily, we depend on our President to make the best moves for the right reasons, ultimately holding our national interest as the first priority. But Cheney and the Wolf had other ideas. They wanted a full-scale hot war, and it didn't much matter where it was. The American people had nothing to say about this, of course. Our Congress-people had their bluff called, and they backed down. Bush & Co. forced the intelligence community to concoct fake evidence for the UN.

    We declared victory in both Iraq and Afghanistan, then decided we should stay there until things settled down. But they didn't settle down, and it's clear that they aren't going to for a very long time. We left Vietnam under a cloud of shame and failure, and that's exactly how we're going to leave Afghanistan (and probably Iraq). "Saving face" at this point has become too expensive.

    China's the new problem, and the sooner we address that, the better. Our "cold war" with China will likely play out as a series of economic and trade wars, because they don't want open conflict, at least right now. But the lines have been drawn in the sand. If we want to remain a player in world affairs, we can't capitulate economically. A debtor nation can't afford big armies and fancy weapons.