Friday, August 06, 2010

The Legacy of War: Wisdom for My Loved Ones (Revisited Once Again)

Seems like the subject of "war" keeps smacking me in the face year after year. Last month while meandering up the street at the Mississippi St. Fair in Portland a young man handed me a little booklet titled "War Is A Racket." Written by General Smedley Butler, one of the most decorated officers in long history of the Marine Corp, it was first published in 1935. I finally got around to reading the booklet and was struck by how relevant the General's viewpoint is for today.

On the first page Butler states that " War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which profits are reckoned in dollars and losses in lives." He goes on in brief chapters to cover who makes the profits, who pays the bills, how to smash this racket, and concludes with "to hell with war!" Coming from a man who had "been there" in multiple combat operations during his distinguished service, he's someone whose viewpoint I wish our president and congress were paying attention to right now.

This morning, reading Bob Herbert's opinion piece in the newspaper brought me to tears. Suicides by our soldiers continue to rise. And "July was the deadliest month yet for American troops in Afghanistan. Sixty-six were killed, which was six more than the number who died in the previous most deadly month, June. The nation is paying little or no attention to those deaths, which is shameful. The president goes to fund-raisers and yuks it up on “The View.” For most ordinary Americans, the war is nothing more than an afterthought."

Herbert goes on to say that "It’s time to bring the curtain down for good on these tragic, farcical wars. The fantasy of democracy blossoming at the point of a gun in Iraq and spreading blithely throughout the Middle East has been obliterated. And it’s hard to believe that anyone buys the notion that the U.S. can install a successful society in the medieval madness of Afghanistan." I do not buy such a notion.

Once again as I posed 10 months ago: How do you view the legacy of war in your lifetime? What are your personal stories about war and its impact on you and your family members? Have you changed your views during your lifetime on the necessity (or lack of) for war ... in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and/or any terrorist organizations?
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1 comment:

Gunnar Berg said...