Friday, June 20, 2014

War--When Will We Ever Learn?

photo by lightsqueeze/ / flickr
Where have all the young men            gone? 
Where have all the young men            gone?
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?"
       --Folk Song  

As the war in Iraq is heating up yet again—it’s time to ponder what we ought to do. It is heart breaking to see that troubled land still in total disarray and chaos. People there have not known anything their whole lives but war and terror and bloodshed and death.

Funny—but the same people who led the charge for war in 2003 are at it again. The newspapers reports and the pundits are everywhere saying we should or we shouldn’t move our troops back into Iraq. The loudest voices seem to be saying should.

Colin Powell said once of the Iraq war: “If you break it you buy it.” Well—we certainly broke it and unfortunately we bought it. Estimates are that we have spent at least 1 trillion dollars on that war. That does not include the heartbreaking-human factor.  Nicholas Kristof writes: That 1 trillion dollars "is a $35,000 tax on the average American household. The total would be enough to ensure that all children could attend preschool in the United States, that most people with AIDS worldwide could receive treatment, and that every child worldwide could attend school—for the next 83 years. Instead, we financed a futile war that was like a Mobius strip, bringing us right back to an echo of where we started.”  The rest of the article is worth reading.

We cannot afford to help re-break Iraq. We have nearly bankrupted ourselves already in the trying.  Reports say that 500,000 Iraqi lives have been lost or broken. We have send back home 4,500 flag-draped caskets. Speaking of the rants toward the VA—most rightly deserved--the poor soldiers broken and wounded and their families have gotten lost in the shuffle. As we think of that terrible expression “boots on the ground” we need to remember all those that have come home that will never be the way they were when young and hopeful they served for us. 

At the beginning of the Gulf War in 2003—we were in Oxford for a month. Protests were running high. I think they must have remembered their parents mostly talking about the bombs that fell on London and other parts of England for over 70 days. But what I remember is the window of a little row house I passed by. On one of the panes were these words: “War is not the way.” As the old protest song is still haunting: 'When will we ever learn...when will we ever learn?”

Iraq Memorial outside Boston Church
photo by Dixie Lawrence / flickr

--Roger Lovette /

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