An Enemy of the People

A recent piece I wrote called The Price of War (https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2020/01/13/the-price-of-war/) drew some interesting comments and criticisms; the responses were markedly disparate.

The majority agreed with the sentiment of the article but had serious doubts we will ever eliminate war as human condition.

Many of the concerns were sincere yet tainted by resignation to something I believe within our power to change.

There was a significant number who focused on one or two negative comments directed at the President. In a nutshell, I find him ill-suited for dealing with complex geopolitics issues. His usual act is saber rattling the power of our military. Creative and nuanced solutions elude him. He plays to some of his supporters like a character on WWF, not the President occupying the Oval Office. Latching on to these criticisms, they tagged me as a progressive leftist liberal.

Leftist I am not, but I am guilty of the other charge. No one has yet explained the negative value of being progressive or liberal. It seems the founding fathers of this country were very progressive and liberal about their continued allegiance to the King. British loyalists considered them terrorists and an enemy of the crown.

However, some went full bore, wishing me an unhappy, painful, and imminent demise. I am an enemy of the people. In light of such threatening behavior, I must poke the dragon once more.

I will dispense with the history aspect I so painstakingly wrote, play the role of “advocatus diaboli,” and argue for a more aggressive response to the perceived threats to this country. Since we will never, in the eyes of many, eliminate war, let us prosecute it with vigor and resolve.

Do unto others before they do unto you.

Perhaps my new found militancy will improve my reputation and earn me an upgrade me to plain liberal or, god willing, a conservative.

But I must set the stage with a small bit of history. Growing up a child of the sixties, I knew the godless Russians and the Chinese hated us. They wanted to either kill us or enslave us all. I knew this despite having never actually met a “Chinamen” or a “Ruskie.”

Yet all the adults seemed to know and accept this as fact, which is why many supported spending much of their tax money on building nuclear weapons. Enough to kill every human six or seven times over.

Of course, what they might have thought was to kill all of “those” people twelve or fourteen times over and keep us god-fearing Americans alive to repopulate the world.

Better dead than red, I always say.

What I don’t understand is, if the Russians and Chinese hated us, and for a time we had the advantage in nuclear weapons, why didn’t we strike then and be done with it?

As Madeline Albright, Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, once said, “Why have all these nuclear weapons if we can’t use them?”

Perhaps she has a point.

Instead, we waited and hoped the Russians and Chinese would see the fallacy in Mutually Assured Destruction.

They have so far. But the world has changed. Can we afford to take the same chance?

Now it is the Muslims who hate us. And we do not want them to get nuclear weapons, so maybe we should not risk it again. Give the command. Turn the launch keys. Send them to their god, It might be a smarter choice.

One more historical point. Allah, the God of Islam, is the same Abrahamic God of Judeo-Christian tradition but why get hung up on a technicality. As a good Christian Crusader once said, “Kill them all, God will recognize his own.”

Iran is the devil of the moment. The country that hates us the most. It was North Korea for a while, but they’ve dropped into second place. They have a better chance of nuking themselves before they get us. Iran is the “Raison du moment” we are playing chicken with armed conflict. But I do not understand something.

Pakistan has nukes. They harbored Osama bin Laden, the hall of infamy star of Islamic terrorism. They are supposed to be our ally and we could not tell them we were coming to kill Osama. Why haven’t we nuked them?

Saudi Arabia supplied nineteen of the hijackers. If we were keeping score, the Saudis are responsible for more American deaths than that Iranian General we spread all over the tarmac. Once again, an ally in name only. Why haven’t we nuked them?

Since Mr. Trump and his BFF, Mr. Putin, control thousands of nukes, and seem to be engaged in a mutual admiration society, perhaps a return to the alliance we shared in defeating the Nazis is in order with our target the new enemy, Iran.

Oh, wait, Russia backs Iran. Perhaps there’s a reason for Mr. Trump’s confusion with allies and friends like these. There’s that pesky geopolitics again.

I would suggest we approach China, considering our new trade deal, but they may be too busy enjoying their 6.1% economic growth. Why can’t we have that? Maybe we can learn something from them on that front.

Let’s just keep this simple.

Here is my plan.

  1. Recall all American military personnel to the US. Notify all Americans living abroad now might be a good time to visit the homeland. Advise them to sell all their furniture or find a solid storage facility.
  2. End all foreign aid to everybody except other nations based on a Christian tradition
  3. Hold a referendum on exempting the Israelis from this requirement. They are not Christian but, in all likelihood, Jesus was Jewish so that bodes well in their favor.
  4. Ask each nation to support what we do. Make a list of all who agree, add to the target list all who refuse.
  5. Start the countdown.

It makes about as much sense as our current covfefe foreign policy.

The Price of War

“My first wish is to see this plague of mankind, war, banished from the earth.”

George Washington

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the United States has engaged in seven wars. There have been other minor skirmishes and short engagements (although they were hardly minor to those killed or wounded), but for my purposes, let us focus on the seven big ones and the cost in lives.

In two of these engagements, World War I and II, we had a clear and well-understood purpose; to defeat Germany and her allies. We achieved both missions, but the cost was high.

The number of Americans killed or wounded during the First World War was 320,518. During the Second World War, the number was 1,076, 245. Nevertheless, at least these wars had a defined goal.

Dwight David Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander during the war, had this to say of his experiences during both these wars.

“I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

The end of World War II brought with it atomic (soon followed by nuclear) weapons and the Cold War. Faced with a growing number of nuclear-armed nations, some under Communist or Socialist dictators such as Stalin and Mao, Americans taught their children to “duck and cover” and prayed the nuclear winter never came.

Nevertheless, we continued to build more weapons of increasingly devastating power. So powerful, man could destroy himself and the planet.

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

Albert Einstein


In Europe and America, there’s a growing feeling of hysteria
Conditioned to respond to all the threats
In the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets
Mister Khrushchev said, ‘We will bury you’
I don’t subscribe to this point of view
It’d be such an ignorant thing to do
If the Russians love their children too

How can I save my little boy
From Oppenheimer’s deadly toy?
There is no monopoly of common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

Russians by Sting

Nevertheless, the threat of such powerful weapons did little to slow the often gleeful rush to war. Particularly when halting the spread of communism.

1950 brought us the North Korean invasion of South Korea. Two countries artificially created after the Second World War by the victors dividing the spoils. We rushed to aid our side in the south.

It would cost us 128,650 dead or wounded Americans. We fought the North Korean army to the Chosen Reservoir, where China, fearing US troops on her border, entered the war.

In thirty-degree below zero weather, 30,000 Marines, surrounded by 150,000 Chinese soldiers, fought their way to the coast taking all their dead and wounded. My father was one of those Marines. He earned three Purple Hearts, two Bronze Stars, and a Silver Star during his time in Korea.

He bore the physical scars with pride. The psychological scars remained buried, something for his family (and thousands of other families of veterans) to deal with alone.

That war is still officially in a state of truce. No one won. However, we had somewhat of a clear intent in entering the war, just no clear picture of how it would end. It was the beginning of a dangerous trend in foreign policy.

In August 1964, Congress passed one of the most significant, misunderstood, and troubling Joint Acts ever, The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Abdicating its Constitutional authority to declare war, Congress allowed the President to send troops into combat.

The act, predicated on the report of an attack on US warships in the Gulf of Tonkin by forces of North Vietnam, started us down the routes of involvement in the war in Vietnam.

The attack never happened.

In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson privately confided in an aide, “For all I know, our Navy was shooting at whales out there.”

Vietnam cost 211,454 Americans killed or wounded.

In 1973, after eighteen years of American military personnel assisting the South Vietnamese (1955-1973) and eight years of active combat, we declared victory and left.

The North Vietnamese and Viet Cong never won a significant battle against the American forces, achieved no measure of military success, yet when the smoke cleared, the North Vietnamese flag flew in Saigon.

Our purpose in entering the war was unclear, our goal undefined, and the results underscore the error of this policy.

Which brings us to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

(1990-1991 First Gulf war Iraq) 1,143 dead or wounded Americans.

Afghanistan (2001- still there) 22,266 dead or wounded Americans.

Iraq (part II 2003-still there) 36,710 dead or wounded Americans.

One would be hard-pressed to define the goals in these conflicts.

One million, seven hundred ninety-six thousand, seven hundred, eighty-six (1,796,786) dead or wounded Americans in wars so far.

To put this in the crude terms of a sports record, we are

Two Wins

One Tie

One Forfeit

Two in never-ending overtime.

However, nothing is sporting or glorious about war.

The troubling part is that we made those decisions while being led by many who had experienced war upfront and personal. We are not in the same circumstances today and we live in a much different geopolitical environment.

One requiring more in-depth deliberation.

Asymmetric warfare, religious zealotry driving suicidal crusades, the proliferation of nuclear material, an immense world-wide arms industry eager to exploit any market all contribute to the complexity.

We have a President who loathes outside advice, operates on “gut” instinct, and has shown by his ADHD-like foreign policy efforts to be ill-equipped for the complexities of the moment.

No one would accuse Mr. Trump of in-depth anything except self-delusion.

President Trump boasts that Saudi Arabia is paying for the presence of our troops in their country. That has to be one of the most astoundingly idiotic things ever said by a President (a fantastic accomplishment), let alone the most indefensible use of the American military.

The American military’s sole purpose is to protect the interests and the people of the United States and our allies. They are not for rent. They never should defend or support the government of a country that funds extremist forms of Islam and motivates much of the unrest in the Middle East.

Remember nineteen of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi’s. They are not our friends. If we are energy independent, as the President claims we have become on his watch, why do we need Saudi oil?

The clamoring, almost joyful, call for war against Iran when considering our well-established history of wasting American lives in wars with no sense of purpose or goal, should sound a warning.

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore, all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”

Voltaire

1,796,786 Americans killed or wounded in wars. We have spent trillions of dollars arming our country. Shattered families, shattered bodies, and shattered dreams are never a reasonable price to pay for the vainglorious pursuit of flawed policies wrapped in patriotic fervor to conceal the cowardly nature and history of the man in the Oval Office.