These truths should be self-evident, but many are not

This Monday we get a day off to create a nice long weekend. Memorial Day is a wonderful celebration, but is one where we should honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country. We tend to promote jingoism, which is an ugly term, to beat on our chests and talk about how mighty we are. Yet, I believe we should honor our valiant soldiers who died fighting our battles, by being truth seekers. We owe it to them to do so.

I believe the following truths are self-evident. If you disagree, I welcome your comments. I am not looking to blame anyone, but learn from our mistakes and realities of the situation. In my view, we cannot address our problems, if someone is telling you the problem is not real and we are so great that we can make any problem go away. In no particular order.

– We went into Iraq with insufficient troops and hardware and without a clear-cut plan for success. General Shinseki actually resigned because of this initial failure. The later “surge” is what Shinseki had argued for in the first place. Winning battles is easier than maintaining the peace, which is what Shinseki noted to his bosses.

– We overreacted to 9/11 and as a result underreacted to Syria and pulling out of Iraq, so says a military historian. Al Qaeda was small in number and now we have a much greater enemy. We are a war-weary country and made many mistakes from the outset and along the way. We had the Iraqi police force fired, many of them later became part of ISIS. This concern was noted at the time of their firing ten years ago.

– Torture of prisoners has made us less safe, because we have grown larger, multi-generational groups of people who do not hold America in high regard. What little intelligence we have gained is dwarfed by this continuing animosity and mistrust.

– The Middle East is a hard to solve conundrum. America cannot win a war that will solve this problem, as proven in Iraq. Again, winning battles is easier than maintaining the peace. We have been fighting in the Middle East for over thirty years and spent trillions of dollars – what do we have to show for this asks another military historian and Vietnam veteran. He noted we did not learn the lessons of Vietnam.

– While many are grandstanding with chest beating opinions, it is good to be negotiating with Iran over limiting nuclear development. The non-diplomatic options are not worth considering as they could lead to a deadly result for many. In any situation, we owe to our troops and to their families to exhaust all other means before we send them to die.

– The same is true for Ukraine which gets lost in the news these days. Vladimir Putin is not a trustworthy individual. We need to continue to hold his feet to the fire as an international pariah. We need to help Ukraine be stronger, but also continue a joint effort to call Putin on the carpet.

– We also owe it to our troops to protect them and their families from predators here at home. Pay-day lenders and expensive and ineffective for-profit colleges have had a license to steal from our military families. The former will get our families into a 1000% annual effective interest rate pretty quickly. The latter spends more money marketing than teaching and graduation rates are in the low teens if that high. Also, the diet supplement business which is largely unregulated (due to some well-funded senators), has led to deaths of many soldiers who bought diet supplements (from on-base stores to aid with their training). You cannot support troops and screw them over like this. It is not right.

We owe it to our troops and their families to make sure we have exhausted other means, before we send them into battle to risk their lives. We owe it to them to have a clear-cut plan for success and a reasonable end strategy. We owe it to them to learn from our mistakes and not placate political egos to gain favor with voters. Finally, remember the quote from the movie “Troy,” when Achilles is consoled by his cousin – war is old men talking and young men fighting. Let’s honor those young men and women and treat them and their families well.




13 thoughts on “These truths should be self-evident, but many are not

  1. War is also men and women politicians and pundits who have no skin in the game. No family members in the military, they’ve never served, and haven’t a clue other than the latest war movie they’ve watched as to what horrors war really entails. Chickenhawk, armchair, warriors, the likes of Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush, also Rubio, Cruz, Huckabee, Fiorina, Graham, and others, to name a few.

  2. Let’s hope if we have to send our troops into battle again it will be for a just cause — and not to further enrich the already filthy rich. Have a Happy Memorial Day, my friend.

  3. Note to Readers: on the issue of diet supplements leading to the death of our troops, along with liver disease and other maladies, please watch the most recent “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel ” on HBO. This is one of the best journalist shows on any media and this story will make you mad.

  4. Let’s also take into consideration when these young men and women come home broken, mentally & physically, someone needs to provide them with sufficient care…..for the next 50,60 & 70 years!
    There are no winners, except for the Halliburton stock holders, some of which were listed above in the list of armchair warriors.

  5. Note to Readers: I saw a great piece on CBS Morning News regarding homeless female veterans. Two comments, one good and one bad. The bad is it was noted that 40 % of all homeless female veterans were raped in the military. This statistic struck me cold. In other words, a large part of these women problems were not because of anything the enemy did.

    The good is the group Volunteers for America have raised money to repurpose abandoned military housing into subsidized housing for these female vets and their families. They pay on a sliding scale and receive services for mental health, career training and job assistance. So, there is a light at the end of the tunnel as this model is being replicated.

    • Nations have always treated their veterans badly, I suppose. But these women were abused while in the service, which makes their situation doubly regrettable.

      • It does indeed. While we have made strides, to not take investigation out of the chain of command, was a poor move. Senator Gillibrand is correct to have advocated this.

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