Sunday, August 17, 2003

Aaah, the Over Confidence of Experience & the Research Ability of Youth

In my ever so little spare time, I write for a local paper. A couple weeks ago our Editor-in-Chief, Art, attacked an article I wrote about Iraq. He's pretty much against the war, and as you can imagine, I'm for it. To sum up, this back and forth “battle” so to speak started after I read Art’s article about the Iraq war being a no win situation for anyone. I quickly submitted a response, and shortly there after Art printed his response to my response. I now submit to you my response to his response about my response.

Before I begin my formal rebuttal to Art’s column entitled, “Aaah, the Exuberance of Youth & the Wisdom of Experience” I would like to thank Art by breaking those “proper” rules of journalism and actually stating his opinions. Without dialogue and conflict of opinions life would be about as exciting as C-SPAN. Even though I may not agree with everything Art says, it’s ALWAYS good to hear two sides of the story. Without both sides of the argument, one could never make an educated decision. That being said, he's still wrong.

First of all, Art believed that I may have missed his point about Iraq and our military, and I may have. I can only rely on what I read and how my brain interprets it. What I have gathered from his articles are these points: A – He believes that we shouldn’t have gone to war in the fashion that we did but it’s still a good thing that Saddam is gone, B – The U.S. should have learned that large forces don’t always work (Vietnam), C – We shouldn’t be an occupying force for any long period, and D – We’re spending too much to keep that large force in a country we shouldn’t be occupying for long anyway. I hope I finally understand now, but if I still have any of them wrong just let me know.

The belief that the way we liberated Iraq was a bad one is almost inarguable. If a large force wasn’t the way to go, then the only other options are a small force, or more pinpoint bombing. We learned from former President Clinton that pinpoint bombing does not work to remove evil dictators only to remove Aspirin factories. Saddam could have stayed in his underground bunkers almost indefinitely and all we could have accomplished was wiping out the entire city of Baghdad (which we would have to rebuild). It seems to me that the easiest way to remove Saddam, liberate the people, and keep the peace is with a large force like we’re currently using. That brings me to my next point: Vietnam.

Since Art’s column last week I’ve done some homework on the Vietnam War. I decided that the only way I could effectively argue my point would be to learn about this conflict, and boy did I learn (See, I don’t know EVERYTHING—just most everything).

The article states that “The French in Vietnam, then the U.S. in Vietnam and the Russians in Afghanistan all suffered defeat in spite of having an overwhelming force and high-tech gadgetry.” I’m not willing to discuss why the French lost in Vietnam (because we know why they lost—they’re French) or why the Russians lost in Afghanistan (they were probably to drunk on Vodka to fight), but I am ready and willing to argue why we lost in Vietnam. It is true that we did lose in spite of our large force and gadgetry, but that statement’s a little misleading. I fully believe that the Vietnam War could have been WON if a responsible leader would have been in charge. To those who think that Vietnam was not winnable I ask you to think again.

I do agree that the Vietnam War was doomed from the start. Why? Not because it would be impossible to win, but because of who our president was at the time—John Kennedy. Kennedy had proven himself an ineffective military leader by the time the North Vietnamese attacked the South, our ally. He had already botched the Bay of Pigs incident by not giving air cover to the Cuban liberators hence allowing thousands of them to either be killed or captured. His “success” in dealing with the Cuban missile crisis was hailed as brilliant, but no one ever happens to mention that he was the one that caused the crisis in the first place. His “success” did remove the missiles from Cuba, but at the same time Khrushchev recanted on a promise that would have kept the Russians completely out of Cuba and also our missiles had to be removed from Turkey.

After Kennedy ordered the troops to Vietnam, an order that was praised by the media, he wasn’t actually ready to WIN the war. At the beginning of the war the U.S. had the best chance of winning. Kennedy never even thought about it and never ordered an invasion of the north. From that point on Kennedy and later Lyndon Johnson seemed to be actually trying to sabotage the war effort. During Johnson’s administration welfare spending actually surpassed defense spending! In the middle of a war Johnson thought his social programs were more important than our soldiers’ lives.

Aside from all the damage the Democratic presidents were doing, the Defense Department wasn’t doing any better. Most troops only stayed in Vietnam for a year, then they could leave. Just when they started to adjust and learn to fight they were sent home. Also, the “large force” wasn’t so large when it was split up into very tiny attack groups. Troops were sent into battle in very small amounts at a time, and this ended up in mass killings of our troops.

My point is simple. It wasn’t the fact that we couldn’t win with a large force. The fact is the large force was miss managed from the get go and we could have easily won the Vietnam War with the proper leadership in place.

Now that everyone’s had their history lesson for the day, I feel I need to talk about our occupying force in Iraq. In order to stabilize the country, set up a democracy, and strengthen the economy the U.S. MUST occupy the country for 4 to 5 more years. If we were to leave the country the way it is today we would be sentencing the Iraqi people to another life under another brutal dictator. I know the perception is that we’re not making headway in Iraq all the while our troops are being killed left and right by an “organized” guerilla force. The problem with this perception is that it’s fed to us by an all to liberal media who has been against the war from the beginning and would like nothing more than to see us fail miserably. Many who have visited Iraq post-war agree that it is still in need of restructuring, but also concur that the coalition is making great progress in restoring the infrastructure.

We do face resistance from some of the Iraqi people. This was a problem that was predicted. The people are so use to living under a brutal regime that these changes probably frighten and confuse them. These citizens of Iraq are resistant to change because they’ve seen change before, and it wasn’t pretty. We still have a long way to go to gain their trust but I firmly believe we’re well on our way. Once a democratic government is set up and the Iraqi people are free to choose who they want as their leader they’ll see that what we did was not to take their country from them, but just the opposite—we gave it back to them.

For anyone who says that these people don’t want democracy or that we shouldn’t be pushing our values and views on them I ask them to remember what they were taught about the Civil War in the U.S. Before the war broke out, while we were still in our stage of heated debates regarding slavery, what did the North argue about slaves? They argued that slaves want, need, and deserve freedom just like any and every other person. But what did the South argue? They argued that the slaves were happy just the way they were. They argued that the slaves LIKED being slaves and that they loved the master, and that we shouldn’t try to press on them values that they don’t want or like. Sound familiar? It’s the same argument some used to protest the war. It is a fallacy that people don’t strive to be free. If humans don’t yearn for the sweet taste of freedom then why aren’t we flying the Union Jack right now and singing “God Save the Queen?”

The cost of this war is indeed immense. But I would rather our country spend that money to liberate a people and to remove a terrorist dictator than wait for that evil leader to use his money and influence to produce weapons of mass destruction and use them. No amount of money is too great for our safety and the freedom of an oppressed people. Other dictators do pose just as much of a threat now that Saddam did months ago i.e. Kim Jon Il. There are major differences in the way North Korea should be handled as opposed to the way Iraq was handled. For starters, North Korea hasn’t been threatening their neighbors or us with weapons of mass destruction like Iraq did for TWELVE YEARS. To those who would have rather invaded North Korea I ask, “Why ‘rush’ to war?”

Art, I say to you and to anyone else who believes that this war was either unjust, ill-fought, or too expensive, “Sorry, but this time you’re mistaken.” What we did was noble, just, and long overdo. The way we did it was not flawless by any means, but it was still one of the greatest military campaigns in the history of the world. The history books of tomorrow will not see this war as selfish or mislead, but as proof positive that the United States of America and it’s allies would not stand by while evil reared it’s ugly head in defiance of the rest of humanity. Our troops have not died in vain, but for the freedom and liberty of an oppressed people, and the safety of our homeland—noble causes indeed.

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