This was written prior to our attack on Iraq. Is war ever necessary?
|War, Ungh, What is it Good for?
By Archie R. Whitehill
The winds of war are beginning to blow across Hampton Roads and the nation. People in this area are well aware of what that means, missing loved ones for months at a time, or forever; leaving jobs for reserve positions, for a short while, or for a career; knowing one is living in historic times, or not knowing or living, period. We are ready, able and almost too willing to charge into the desert winds of war in Iraq, yet, we must. Mustn’t we?
Knowing the risks and wanting to take them seem to be in tune as a majority of us are anxious for President Bush and Congress to let go the catapults, flinging us onto the battlefields once again. Once again? This time promises to be different from the 1990 “war” against the “devil of the desert.” This time we promise to be more invasive; we promise to be more insistent; we promise to be unwilling to settle for anything less than total capitulation by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and his cronies.
Once again we will place our troops in harm’s way, but this next time, we will have what appears to be a more credible foe than what we found in Afghanistan, and certainly a foe more willing to fight than Iraq was in the early 90s.
How is it that we are so complacent about war while we are on the very verge of war? How is it that we treat the concept of war as a philosophical or political exercise rather than as a reality, an ugly reality that may well come to happen? We continue to go on with our daily lives, “ooohing and ahhing” at the jet fly-overs during air shows, flying flags from our cars, flying our undying patriotism from every article of clothing. Even though patriots fighting in wars die daily, we pay lip service to supporting those we see but whom we do not really know unless it is a family member or close friend. We see the sacrifices as patriotism, as heroism, but as a society we do not really feel that sacrifice.
Just how ready are we to lose a friend, a lover, or a neighbor to heroic action? We really don’t know the pain of such human loss, and we have not really known such wholesale pain since Vietnam, not on a national basis we haven’t; we just don’t know, and too few of us remember. Each of us must think about our own personal readiness, distinctly separate from the military’s combat readiness, to cope with such awful loss. Are we really willing to pay such a bloody price for what is deemed to be needed, war with Iraq?
Are we really ready for war, emotionally as well as strategically and tactically? That is a question we must answer before we make that weighty decision. We must ensure our leaders know we have weighed the pain against the gain before we send our troops into harm’s way once again. Right or wrong, pacifist or hawk, we all need to think deeply before pulling the national trigger sending human projectiles into the fray.
War or no war, those are the two options, and I don’t know which is right, yet. I do know that whatever decision we make has to be well thought out by more rational minds than I have seen on either side as I watch the news and read the newspapers. Let those rational minds belong to us, the public. And let us all act quickly, neatly, before the decision is made for us.