In the paper the other day, I saw a sad statistic… there’s a suicide every 36 hours among our U.S. servicemen and women.

What is wrong currently in our military that this should be occurring? I’m not really sure what the cause is. I can speculate that it’s a different world than it was when young men and women signed up in droves to serve after 9-11. It’s definitely a different world than the one in 1941, when my father, uncles, and many other young men and women leapt at the chance to serve in some way to fight the enemies of that time.

For many, current events and statistics like the one mentioned above beg the question, “Why are we over there?” The answer to that simple question is quite complicated, though. We’re over there, wherever “there” happens to be at the moment, because there is a need for force to achieve a goal. What’s so important thousands of miles away that our men and women should be there dying for it? Could be a lot of different reasons… treaty obligations (South Korea), moral obligations (Libya?), stabilization of critical areas of the world (oil fields of the Middle East), etc.

I can tell you a couple reasons why the U.S. is not there. We’re NOT there to acquire territory by force. We’re NOT there to exact a profit from the endeavor. This doesn’t mean that some companies and individuals aren’t there for the money, though. That will always be the case for some because war can be a very lucrative enterprise for some businesses and their owners, stock holders, and politicos-in-pockets. It has ever been thus. That’s not what I’m talking about here, though. I’m talking about the United States of America of the people; the citizens whose children are dying over “there”.

A few years ago, I had a conversation with a young man from Costa Rica who was living in the U.S. and attending college at the time. It’s still a very cogent piece, in my opinion, even this many years later. I would like to post it here for your reading pleasure. It’s long, but worth the read, I believe. In it, I’m somewhat blunt when referring to other countries and events. It’s editorial in nature, so I may offend even though I don’t mean it maliciously.  Read on…

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A friend of mine from an online forum wrote:

Well, if you look at the way the world reacted directly after the 9/11 attack then, contrary to what a lot of people think, there was lots of sympathy towards the US. Many viewed the terrorist attacks not just as attacks against the US, but against humankind, and sympathy for the suffering was expressed even in countries that are not traditionally the States’ friends, so to speak.

However, in more recent months, I find it absolutely unsurprising that anti-Americanism has grown just about everywhere. Even in a lot of the smaller countries whose governments say they support the war -mainly to get on the USA’s good side-, the populace, in general, disapproves and views this as another arrogant act on the part of the US government, disregarding international law, and feeling it has the right to invade any other country and dictate in which way they should be governed. This arrogant stance makes it really hard for outside countries to sympathize with the US at all, especially when you consider that now the US is most widely viewed as the aggressor here, the one that is using brute force and killing innocent civilians.

This was my response to him:

I wasn’t planning on commenting on this article, but after reading your post, I decided that some things needed to be said, so I’ll say them now.

My country, the United States of America, has done more for this world, as a whole, than ANY other country that has ever existed on this planet. You didn’t experience it personally, but I’m sure you are aware of what the U.S. did during WWII. This country sent MILLIONS of our young men to far-flung places all over the world to fight and die horrible deaths for one reason… to bring freedoms and liberties to people who were being attacked and destroyed by tyrannical governments and dictators.

The U.S. has not fought a war for territory or dominance since we fought Mexico for control of the Southwest in the early 1800s, or more accurately… since we conquered the Native American Indian to gain his lands. Sure, the U.S. companies profit from opening markets in places where these freedoms and liberties have been fought for and gained. Sure, capitalism has a downside, due to man’s inherent greed. However, looking at the big picture, you must admit that the vast majority of this world’s peoples have benefited from the largesse of the U.S.

The U.S. saved Europe, which was being trod heavily by the Nazi boot. We saved North Africa from the same oppression. After WWII, colonialism was dead, for the most part… it lingered in Asia for a while, but eventually the French pulled out of there too, and left the U.S. to clean up the mess (Viet Nam). The work of the Cold Warriors backed by the monetary power of the U.S. destroyed one of this world’s most oppressive regimes… the U.S.S.R. We “capitalized” them out of existence. Do you have any idea what that cost the U.S. to achieve? Trillions of dollars, my friend… Trillions. Paid for entirely by the hard work and sweat of the citizens of this country.

Does anyone here honestly think that any other country would have or could have done these things? The UK? The U.S.S.R? Germany? France? Speaking of France, the U.S. spent BILLIONS to rebuild and prop up France after WWII. Those “loans” were NEVER repaid to the U.S. They were eventually forgiven. The U.S spent millions and millions to aid Stalin’s U.S.S.R. in its fight against the Nazis. How did the U.S.S.R. repay us? By stabbing us in the back and attempting and achieving complete dominance over Eastern Europe. What about China? They are the most populous and poorest nation on earth. Have we not aided them exorbitantly also?

Then there’s the Middle East… Sure, the U.S. supports Israel, but we also support (heavily, I might add) all other Arab countries in that area. Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, etc… have ALL received assistance from the U.S., whether it be in technology, medical fields, humanitarian causes, military supplies, or money. We’ve given to all of them. Churchill and Roosevelt both knew way back in the ’40s how important stability in that area is. The world currently turns on OIL. There’s no denying it. The U.S. could have taken over the Middle East completely after WWII. Who was going to argue with us? There were NO powers left on earth at that time that could have. Did the U.S. take over the Middle East? No, it did not. It supported self-governance for the individual countries in that area. It was their oil. The U.S. wasn’t going to take it, but we’d be happy to buy it from them.

To rehash… why did the U.S. enter WWI? Was there any threat to the U.S. by events going on way over there in Europe between European powers? No, not really. We entered WWI because one of our allies was in need. The U.S. sent our young men over to Europe to die in filthy, disease-ridden trenches. Why? To preserve the freedoms and liberties of our friends in Europe. Did the U.S. gain monetarily in that war? Absolutely not. Did the U.S. gain in territory? Definitely NOT. What did the U.S. gain? The U.S. gained from knowing that when a friend was in need and liberty and freedom, the founding principles of this country, were threatened by tyrannical powers that it acted honorably.

Why did the U.S. enter WWII? For the same reasons as it entered WWI… and, of course, because we were attacked by a tyrannical foreign power. As stated above, millions of young men from my country fought and gave their ULTIMATE, their lives, to defend liberty and freedom around the world. What did the U.S. gain from WWII? Territory? Nope… Monetary gain? Again… nope. So what did the U.S. gain? The U.S. gained from knowing that it once again acted with honor on the world stage. The U.S. gained from knowing that millions upon millions of people across the globe would have better lives and their children would have better lives from then on.

Why did the U.S. enter the Korean War? Did the US have any security interests in that area of the world? Was there territory to conquer? Was there oil there? No to all of these things. The U.S. entered the Korean War in order to protect an ally, South Korea, which had pleaded with the world to save it from the oncoming communist oppression from the North. Where are the thanks for saving them? Their citizens burn the U.S. flag and demand that the U.S. leave South Korea. Of course, the moment that that little wacko in the North starts blustering about, the South Korean government grovels about and tells the U.S. how much they love us. This doesn’t even take into consideration the billions of dollars that have gone down that rabbit hole.

Why did the U.S. enter the conflict in Viet Nam? To gain territory? To enrich themselves monetarily? No again. We entered that conflict at the behest of our old ally, France, who was fighting a losing battle against the North Vietnamese communist forces. Eventually, the U.S. became seriously involved in Viet Nam at the behest of the South Vietnamese government. By this time the French had hauled ass back to France with their tails between their legs. 58,000+ young men and women of the United States of America died and 100s of 1000s were wounded physically or mentally for life. For what? The corrupt, lazy South Vietnamese government wanted the US to fight its war for them. They collapsed like a house of cards soon after we left that place. Did the world appreciate why the U.S. was there in the first place? Hell no… many of the US’s own citizens didn’t understand or support the U.S.’s position in Viet Nam. They spit on soldiers returning from tours of duty, for chrissakes!

The U.S. has even given your own homeland, Costa Rica much, much support over the years. Why? What does Costa Rica have that the U.S. would want? Beaches? Fish? No. The U.S. gives to its allies and neighbors because it wants to help them. The U.S. doesn’t want to rule the world. It never has. Good thing too because there were times in the past that it could have, if it had chosen that path.

Why is the U.S. in Iraq right now? Is there territory to gain? Is there money to make? No again. My friend, the facts are that the U.S. is over there for the same reasons it has been in any war or conflict for the past 100 years. The U.S. is there to free the people, to liberate the oppressed, to save the children, to protect the region. We are not there to take over Iraq or steal its oil reserves or rape its women. Will innocents die? Yes, most definitely. War is HELL. There is no such thing as a neat, clean war. Those terms are oxymorons. Will young men from the US die horrible deaths there? Yes, most assuredly. Should we not be there doing what we’re doing? If we weren’t who would do it? Who in this world would sacrifice to achieve what must be achieved in that area? No one would. Turkey maybe, huh? Heh-heh… nah, there too busy extorting money out of the U.S. for co-operation in this endeavor. Russia? Yeah, right… they can’t even quell problems within their own borders. The UK? Yeah, they probably would attempt it alone, but that’s the UK. I would expect that of them, being the honorable country that they are. France? HAHA! You see my point.

So what was the purpose of my rant here this evening? I’m not trying to turn anyone into a bloodthirsty warmonger. I’m not trying to convince you that war is good or noble or honorable, although there ARE times when it is necessary. My only point here is to make the point that for all its faults and defects, the United States of America is probably the greatest country that mankind has ever seen on this earth. It is not the devil incarnate. You must look at the history of this country to see clearly what it has done for this world and what it has sacrificed. I guess I’m just tired of hearing other countries and other folks around the world whine and moan and bitch about the big, bad U.S., while they talk with their mistresses on U.S. provided cell phone networks and eat U.S. provided food and drive around in Chevy Suburbans with gas made from oil that the U.S. has kept flowing relatively inexpensively. The hypocrisy makes me sick.

Good night…

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Moral to the story? Study your history a bit before passing along those asinine and often blatantly incorrect emails. Study your history a bit before believing garbage you see in the media. And lastly, never… NEVER disrespect a serviceman or woman who sacrifices daily to maintain your freedoms and liberties and security in this world. When you meet them in the street or at the bar or in the grocery store, thank them for their service to you and this country.

Later…

~Eric

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About V. T. Eric Layton

vtel57, Nocturnal Slacker

8 responses »

  1. ebrke says:

    Eric, we really part company here. I don’t disrespect service people. They are just like the rest of us–most good, a few bad. I do believe they are in places they shouldn’t be doing things they shouldn’t be doing, and they’re paying a heavy price for it and it’s not their fault.

    Too often, our country has attempted to be the world’s policeman. Too often our country has set up and supported leaders in other countries who were antithetical to the interests of the populations of those countries. And I believe that usually there was money to be made and influence to be gained by the giant corporations who have vastly more control over our government than we the people do.

    I’m sorry, Eric, but I believe we’re in Iraq because multinational oil companies wanted in on the oil bonanza. I believe we’re in Afghanistan largely because American corporations want to join the consortium for the proposed Trans-Afghanistan pipeline to move natural gas from Central Asia through Pakistan/Afghanistan into India and other “western” areas without using routes that pass through Russia.

    I believe we’re in a whole lot of places doing a whole lot of things because they’re “good for business”. The problem is that “good for business” no longer translates into what’s good for the average American. We have tens of millions of unemployed, but are told we can’t afford to do anything more to help them. We are being told we can no longer afford Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, but we can always afford to participate in another war of choice in a country that is not threatening our people or our security.

    The dominoes never fell in southeast Asia when we finally left Viet Nam, as we had been assured that they would. And there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And if bin Laden was ever in Afghanistan, he’s been gone for a very long time. Reading history is good, but there are different opinions about the events shaping our history, and as Churchill noted, history is written by the victors.

    • Well, we may not be as far apart as it may seem. Yes, as stated, there are those (companies and individuals) who profit from war. That has always been the case. I think where we differ in opinion is that I do NOT believe that the United States of America’s actions are dictated by these warmongers. They may lobby and line a few political pockets, but they are not the main reasons that the U.S. is involved in the many places that we are involved.

      Yes, it is somewhat frustrating feeling like the Lone Ranger when it comes to assisting/liberating here and there around the world. The bottom line, though, is who would do it if not the U.S.? World oil supplies MUST be kept stable. The world runs on oil. Destabilization anywhere is a potential threat to the U.S. and our way of life. The world is a little neighborhood these days. What happens 8000 miles away in some desert could very well affect your grandkids in just a few weeks. Countries aren’t as isolated as they were 100 years ago. Everything has consequences.

      Yes, we do have issues at home. We always have. However, we can’t just pull back from the rest of the world and let it go to hell in a hand-basket. Often, I wish we could do that. The problem with isolationist behavior in this millennium is that we are ALL in that same hand-basket. There’s no avoiding it. Some power must take the bull by the horns occasionally and lead it back to the stockyard pen. If not the U.S.. then who? It is what it is, I’m afraid.

      I don’t have any solutions; never claimed to. In fifty years, I won’t be too concerned with any of it anymore. 😉

      Thanks for reading/commenting, E. 🙂

  2. PsiCop says:

    Well said, Eric.

    The one fly in the ointment, as it were, is Iraq. We went there ostensibly to dispense with “weapons of mass destruction.” It turns out there were none … at least, none to speak of. There has, unfortunately, never been a proper reckoning for this “mistake” (cough cough). That damages our credibility elsewhere. And that much, at least, is quite understandable.

    More generally, though, the truth of the matter is that we would not be in places like Afghanistan, if not for the choices of its people. Afghanis put the Taliban in power in the late 90s, and the Taliban, in turn, sheltered Osama bin Laden. We went there originally because of him, and remain there because of the Taliban. We would have left long ago … if not for the fact that Afghanis keep supporting them.

    In other words, they made their choice … and now they must live with the consequences of it. I have no sympathy for the Afghanis. None.

    • Hi Psi…

      Indeed, world politics can be a tangled rat’s nest of truth, near-truth, warped-truth, and outright lies. Whaddya’ gonna do? 😉 And yes, Iraq was a bit of a boo-boo on our part. I’ve always had the feeling that this was little Geo copping some pay back for Saddam’s nose snubbing of big Geo back when we were over there helping Kuwait. We may never know.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  3. Dick Krohn says:

    Eric, I spent 22 years in the Navy and I can vouch for the character of the people serving.

    The issue isn’t the character of our service people, it’s the use of them. That is determined by the character of our government.

    Never go to war without a plan for extracting yourself or how you will deal with victory. Too much time has passed in Afghanistan for us to still be there. Our troops are being exposed to additional danger with politically correct Rules of Engagement (ROE) just like other nasty little wars such as Vietnam.

    Now we are entering Libya with no plan. A recipe for disaster.

    If you love and respect the troops, you use them VERY carefully and treat them as the precious asset they are. I don’t see them being used now as anything other than a political football.

    • What you say is true, Dick. One would have thought that the U.S. would have learned a lesson from Nam. Guess not.

      And thank YOU for your service to this country, my friend!

      Regards,

      ~Eric

  4. ichase says:

    Thank you Eric for your support of the Armed forces. Your article was very well written and I am most impressed by your knowledge of the history of this great countly.

    All the best,

    Ian

    • History, particularly military history, has long been a passion of mine. A goodly portion of my personal library is devoted to that subject.

      Thanks for stopping by and reading/commenting, Ian. 🙂

      ~Eric

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