Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Last Reason for War

World War II was unique in many aspects, not the least of which was the fact that the rationale for fighting, the essential reason for the war, remained unchanged throughout the full four years of the conflict. From start to finish, all Americans knew exactly why they were involved, and that reason for war stayed constant. I believe that this, more than anything else, explains why World War II is the only war in the last century where the United States came away with a clear and lasting victory (patriots may wish to cite the 1989 Panama Invasion as an exception to this statement, but that’s beyond pathetic).

In most cases, the stated reason for war changes to adapt to circumstances, and the rationale at the end is very different from the rationale at the beginning. Once you understand this process, the history of the war is already written long before the last shot is fired. Consider a couple of cases in point.

Immediately following the American Civil War, the Government, with a victorious army needing a reason to stay in uniform, sent the troops out West to “make the land safe for settlers.” The military orders were to convert the Indians into peaceful Christian farmers and to “exterminate” those Indians who resisted the process. The word “exterminate” was actually used. By 1876, the extermination had given way to pacification and resettlement. Then an egotistical fool named Custer led his men to their deaths at the Little Big Horn, and for the next 25 years the stated reason for the “conflict out West” was to avenge Custer and to honor the sacrifice of the men under his command. It took a hundred years for the truth to be told when bumper stickers finally appeared on Volkswagens in the 1970s reading, “Custer Had It Coming.”

Fast forward to those 1960s. The U.S. was bogged down in yet another war with a fuzzy rationale and bleak future prospects. The stated reason for the Vietnam War, initially, had been to create a buffer against Communist expansion. The marching orders were to “neutralize” (“exterminate” was no longer fashionable jargon) those who supported the Communists. Then, in February of 1968 came the Communist Tet offensive, and all the rhetoric changed. Tet was the modern version of the Little Big Horn. For the next seven years, we languished in Vietnam for the stated reason that “we needed to honor the sacrifice of those who had already given their lives.”

Which brings us to Iraq. I won’t bother with the litany of phony reasons for the war that have come and gone. Suffice it to say that we’re now down to the last stage in war where the government says we need to honor the sacrifice of those who have given their lives. Whenever a government tells us that, we can know five things with absolute certainty. This applies to any government and any war.

  1. The initial reason for the war was fraudulent.
  2. The stated objectives of the war are unfulfilled.
  3. The government is losing the war.
  4. The current leader of the government doesn’t want a lost war on his resume.
  5. The government is NOT in the least concerned with those who are sacrificing their lives in battle.

There is a saying that, “In war, the first casualty is truth.” It is possible, however, to cut through the lies when you know how to read the code.

No comments: