War is old men talking, young men fighting

The above title is a paraphrased line from the movie “Troy” and while I cannot find it among any of the quotes from Homer’s “Iliad” it still resonates with me. Achilles is highly frustrated with Agamemnon and the other kings celebrating the day’s victory in battle, which none of them fought in. He is counseled with these words. You know what war is all about – “war is old men talking and young men fighting.” I use this quote today to honor our men and women who have fought in battles. They are the ones who put their lives in harm’s way and it is they who should be commended.

If you fought for your country, whether the cause was justified or not, you deserve to be honored. When you are lying in the mud or a foxhole and are being shot at, whether we went into a war without good cause is moot. You are there doing your job in the direst of circumstances. Our country learned that lesson from Vietnam where returning veterans did not get treated with the proper respect. This war dragged on and people asked why are we sending our teenagers and young adults to die over there?

We have similar kind of war going on which began in Iraq and has continued into Afghanistan. We have been doing this for over ten years. The reason for being there has now been called into question, yet there we still sit. However, the lesson we learned from Vietnam has at least helped Americans treat our troops better. They did not pick the fight with Iraq or Afghanistan, yet they are there to fight it our battles for us.

And, there is one other similarity to Vietnam and the gulf wars which makes it so tough on our troops and causes even more PTSD. The enemy combatants are hiding among the civilians. Our troops have to be on their guard even more, as they do not want to kill innocent people, yet the innocents don’t have a “red jersey” on like a quarterback in practice which says don’t hit me. This has to create a greater stress level to an already stressed situation.

What I don’t care for is when old men get together to discuss sending young people in harm’s way without doing their due diligence. Let’s just bomb Iran and get it over with you will hear some old men say, such as Asher Edelman at a recent speech. Or, let’s just invade Syria as some members of Congress and Senate have stated. This may be the reason I hold Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rove in lesser regard as they sent Americans to die under false pretenses in Iraq. My thesis is before you commit Americans to die, do our country, soldiers and their families the duty of making damn sure we have exhausted every other means. I don’t fault the President at all for wanting to go to Congress rather than just bomb Syria for the chemical weapons. Now, we have a diplomatic solution that may lead to more discussions.

So, let’s honor our Veterans. They have done our country a great service and some have paid the dearest price with their lives, minds and bodies. Let’s honor them by doing our homework to avoid conflict whenever possible and taking care of them when they return. We have too many veterans wandering the streets when they get back and too many waiting in line for disability and medical help. We need to fight less and serve them more. Thanks for your service.

8 thoughts on “War is old men talking, young men fighting

  1. Pingback: Where have all the flowers gone? | musingsofanoldfart

  2. Note to Readers: I find of interest, we have some of the same chest beaters wanting to bomb something or blame someone for problems in Iraq. Since one news channel is parading out former Vice President Dick Cheney, I would encourage you to read a recent column from Trudy Rubin, one of the more astute global affairs columnists around, who spoke about Cheney’s lack of credibility on this topic, even without speaking of the fabricated WMD story. Cheney is not the best of sources as to what to do in Iraq, as he and Bush botched it so badly the first time.

    One of the dilemmas that some American leaders and pundits have is they do not fully realize the US does not have the same level of influence as before on matters like these and should make sure we know what is going on and how we can encourage and support more diplomatic solutions. We do not need “bull in the China shop” type action, only committing troops and resources strategically when and where we must.

    Obama has shown his imperfections, but he does deserve credit in Ukraine for pulling allies together to pressure Russia to back off and he should be commended for not blasting away in Iraq as some wanted him to do. If he is going to commit Americans to die, we should have a picture of what success looks like. His predecessors, including and especially Dick Cheney, failed to heed that mission.

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