Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Are We At War?

I haven’t blogged in a long-long while. Mostly because what needs to be said is being done so by others, some because it has been busy at home, and some because I’ve been doing some reading and thinking. Usually after this much time, I’ve figured some things out, but mostly I still have questions. One, as you can guess from the title of this post is, Are we at War?

I’m not pocking fun of our service members when I ask this, but of our politicians. I don’t get to listen to Rush Limbaugh every day, usually only if I have to go to a meeting that requires driving. A couple of weeks ago, I heard some Aussie filling in and he said exit strategies are for losers. In economics, you never throw good money after bad, as soon as you realize that it was a bad decision, you quit the project and cut your losses. I think it is obvious though that war is different than building condos or some other investment. In a war, you don’t quit until you are forced to quit. And remember, people make mistakes and the enemy will (not try) hurt you in a war. If you are of a mind that war is wrong no matter what the reason, quit reading now. I do believe that the only justification for war is self-defense, but I also believe in acting preemptively. This may cause you to win a battle, but you will get hurt in war.

Many people seem to believe we should withdraw from Iraq because we never should have invaded in the first place. WMD was a lie and all that. But let’s take a step back and try to bound the problem with our two extremes, do nothing or declare war on all Muslims (What Osama wanted).

If we do nothing, we let the barbarian fascists run amok. Afghanistan would still be under the Taliban and Hussein would still be killing hundreds of his own citizens a month. They are people over there. Should we be the world’s policeman? Ideally no, but look at the corruption and ineffectiveness of the UN. It’s kind of like letting the mob run the New York City Police Department. Or, you can take the cowboy approach, it needs doing, I’m here and can do it, I’ll do it. Not in our national interest to do this? The terrorism we face is multi-national. No nation has stood up and declared war on the US in the sense of delivering a declaration or war to our ambassador, but there are nations supporting the terrorists and the madras that indoctrinate future terrorists. Regardless, if we do nothing, our citizens would continue to die in the kinds of attacks we saw in the 90’s, with a World Trade Center type attack, every so often. Our citizens would NOT be safe at home or abroad, which is, lets face it, part of the government’s job. The 9/11 memorials made me remember the anger, but that is past. What is not past is the determination, never again. Do we leave our children as random targets?

The other alternative is to wipe out every Muslim on earth. I hope everyone finds that as distasteful as I do. A holocaust for Muslims, we know what that would make us.

And so, we are left with a middle ground.

Now, if you have made the decision to go to war, the only thing left is strategy and tactics. I won’t go into the tactics, but let’s look at some of the things that effect our strategy.

FDR made the decision in WWII to get the European powers to spend their manpower, we would supply the materials and as few people as we could get away with. We still lost almost 500,000 men, but this was a pittance compared to other European countries. We emerged a super power because we were the only country with an industrial base and a population. Cold blooded to be sure, but that is what the President gets paid to do. But as a super power, we have limits. Less of our GDP goes to the military now than during the Vietnam War. We aren’t rationing like in WWII. None of my neighbors have a kid or husband over there. Being former Military, some of my friends who have stayed in are effected, but I can see whole groups of people who aren’t effected. There is no special war-time tax. And worst of all, it seems to be more of a political event. The Democrats use every mistake (and there are lots of them in a war, because people are involved) and every setback (our enemies keep fighting, darn them) to say the Shrub is incompetent, dumb, etc.. I hear they would do better, but they don’t release a lot of details other than they would do better at building an international consensus. Here’s some news, Countries act in their own best interest, and the European Powers are doing that. The Democrats are not asking how can we do things better, win the war faster. They are just throwing sand in the Republican Gears. I call that aiding and abetting the enemy.

I’m not saying that I’m not for a healthy debate. I am; problem is I don’t see any healthy debate. In this instance, I mean that if we all agree on the goal (which I don’t think we do), then how do we get there?

But let’s take the goal first. I see bumper sticker that say “Don’t blame me, I voted for Kerry” or the people who say “Bush isn’t my President, I didn’t vote for him.” Well, I didn’t vote for Clinton, but he was my President. In a Democracy you go along with the majority, even if you disagree. After 9/11 we declare a war on terror. It is no longer open to debate and everyone needs to support it. Sorry, but it is that simple.

So a healthy debate is - how do we carry out the war? We had lots of debate before the Iraqi invasion. Hussein had plenty of time to either prepare his WMD for use or hide it. Lots of other posts by others have covered every aspect of our decision to invade Iraq. Here is something else that is simple-we did it, so how do we deal with the situation? I don’t see any good information coming out of Iraq, at least not in a condensed and reliable form. If we withdraw from Iraq, we will appear weak to our enemies. This is fine if it is part of a strategy, but a very bad idea if it is real weakness. It is okay to embolden our enemies if that will cause them to attack us, specifically to attack our troops. That is our soldier’s job after all, to kill our enemies. How do we get our enemies to show themselves? Invade a country maybe?

One of the things that makes the 21st century so different is the internet, because of the freedom of information that it brings. Satellites, CNN, etc all play their part too. Our press has shown way too much willingness to publish things that help the enemy and hurt our efforts to fight (NSA programs for instance). The question then, is how much health debate belongs in the public eye. I would like to say none, but then you only leave the unhealthy stuff, of which we hear too much. One thing I guarantee you, the President has access to a lot more information than you or I do. He has a lot more time in his day to study what is going on, and a lot of time to debate what we are trying to do. But I do have to say I worry that he gets enough healthy debate. When all you face are bad decisions, you have to pick the lesser evil; this is where the debate comes in.

But I do believe our oil money is going to fund a lot of these terrorists. I do wish the President would do more to divorce us from foreign oil. We need a national energy policy, one that makes more use of nuclear energy. With nuclear you can make hydrogen and from there you can have cars run on alternative energy. But we don’t hear any debate about that, not even from the tree hugging Democrats. And yes, nuclear energy is safe, and would be even safer with newer technology. Nuclear waste, we need to process it, not bury it. A war time tax of $0.50/gal would go a long way to making that happen.

I would also like to see the New York Times prosecuted for leading classified information. The media as a neutral reporter is a myth. Anyone, who has ever done an investigation, has to sift through people’s viewpoints. Even people who mean to be helpful and truthful are biased, it’s a people thing. What I’m trying to say is journalists and newspapers are biased and any pretense of neutrality is just that, pretense. An honest paper would at least have two reports with two different points of view. And let’s not even start with in-depth investigations (they take so long and are so expensive, Photo Shop and Palestinian stringers are so cheap). Democracies are very prone to information wars, and we are in one, from the inside. The press is a watchdog on our government, but there is no courage or integrity without consequence. Many civil rights activists went to jail or were beaten - their moral stand had unpleasant consequences, which in the end made the country a better place. But how does outing an NSA surveillance program make us safer? It had oversight, it was legal, it was against non-citizens. But the NYT publishes this information, and there is no consequence-other than maybe declining readership. There was no moral stand here, and no courage. And worse, in no way did this help America, it helped our enemies. During a war, don’t you go after traitors?

And so I ask, are we at war? What are we going to leave to our children, our nieces and nephews, the kids down the street we see growing up?

As I proof read the above, I see lots of places to elaborate, but I’m already at 3 pages, which I think is a blog limit. Buy hey, maybe I’ll gets some comments and we can get a debate going.


At 1:10 AM, Blogger bothenook said...

here's the first salvo.... keep writing.
that's the easy part. you write, i'll send readers.


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