Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ideals Versus Interests

This week the Obama administration will engage in a review of its Afghanistan strategy which will include an update of the war effort and initiatives going forward. This review has been shaped by agreements made last month with NATO military ministers which would have the United States engaged in Afghanistan through 2014. Afghanistan is already America’s longest war and 2014 marks the date when “conditions based” withdrawals can begin. We should expect some definition of what a “win” in Afghanistan is. We should also expect clear, unambiguous, quantifiable, statements of the “conditions” that will allow withdrawal. Neither is likely to result from the strategy review. Nor will we be told what vital American interests are being protected or preserved in this corrupt, failed nation state. The American people will accept this bureaucratic babble because they are not engaged.

America is not engaged first of all because the war is being fought by less than one percent of the American people at tragic cost to our service members and their families; multiple deployments, high divorce rates, PTSD, prescription and illegal drug abuse, alcoholism, spousal abuse, or suicide crisis, and more than 1,300 deaths. This one percent is made up overwhelmingly of poor kids and patriots from the third and fourth row economic quintiles of our population. And the first quintiles, the well off and well connected are AWOL. A military draft would engage the American people in the longest of their wars.

Secondly, the American people are not engaged because someone else’s money is paying for the war (largely China) at the rate of more than six billion dollars per month. All of it to be repaid in the future with interest. One hundred million American taxpayers would become engaged if each month they received a “war tax” notice from the IRS demanding the immediate payment of their share, sixty dollars.

After nine years this war goes on with no first order questions being asked, no challenges being raised and no outrage being expressed. When the blood and treasure of others is being spent it is easy to have ideals triumph over interests.


  1. If this country wants to sell out its idealism to a communist country that bullies our other allies why would anyone want to become engaged? I say let the Chinese have the country as there is no definitive strategy or goal in our occupation. No invading or occupying army has ever triumphed in Afghanistan. Maybe the Chinese can bully their way to victory. LOL

  2. I hope the person addressing the main concern is tryin to be sarcastic. If not what happens when the majority of the American people begin to believe that it is better to give up to the Chinese than to understand that a small percentage of the people in the United States understand what the loss of freedom really means. So many folks believe that they understand it because they've seen "Reds" or other movie. What happens when the loans are called? What happens when Moody's lowers our bond rating because Congress doesn't understand that they have to stop so much spending.

    We need to make the U.S. understand that there is more to give that what has already been given.

  3. This would make a timely 2011 Letter to the Editor.

    I sent you a email Major General Laich requesting copyright permission to post this on Veterans Today News Network, Facebook, and in response to a PBS program this morning - Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.

    This PBS program has a commentator give a lame excuse for why there was not massive Peace Movement going into 2011.

    Your points and views were more accurate and realistic than his, and in fact both mainstream media and public media tends to be avoiding the truth like our government is avoiding THE DRAFT.

    Bobby Hanafin, Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired
    Editorial Board Member
    Veterans Today News Network

  4. Your article Ideals Versus Interests caught my eye, and I wish to request copyright permission to re post as is on Veterans Today News.

    I was researching material on-line to make a decent lead in to my first article in 2011.

    Ironically, I had your article on-line file, but the timing for your words = PERFECT.

    What you say in this article is not only THE TRUTH, but what mainstream media, even public media like NPR and PBS is missing (maybe intentional, maybe unwittingly).

    My wife and I watched the PBS program Religion and Ethics Newsweekly this morning (BTW a program we rarely watch, but decided to this morning). At the close of the program the commentators were asked this question, "How come there is no Peace Movement against the occupations and wars in the Middle East and SW Asia."

    The commentator from the Brookings Institute came up with a very biased, weak somewhat apologetic response intended to divert from the Real Answer or plain ignorance of the real answer. You sir, have the real answer as to why there is not a Peace Movement on the scale of the Vietnam anti-war movement.

    That is why I wish to quote your views on both Veterans Today and in the comments section of the PBS program at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/episodes/december-31-2010/look-ahead-2011/7719/

  5. Here is an excerpt of what was said, Sir you will need to go to the last few paragraphs before the close of the program,

    BOB ABERNETHY (Host): I have been wondering with respect to Iraq and now Afghanistan why there was no peace movement—not more of a peace movement. Do you think with Afghanistan, as we begin to come out of there, that there will be such a thing?

    EJ DIONNE (Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution): I think going into Afghanistan there was very broad support when we started because many people, except for pacifists and a few others who have legitimate reasons for opposing all war, most people thought this was kind of a just war response, so you didn’t have a big opposition. I think now a lot of people say God, this is a terrible mess. I don’t have a good answer coming out of it, and I think that sort of undercuts what might otherwise be a big peace movement.

  6. I also intend passing both your views and what was said on this program about Ethics and Religion onto our readers who are Peace Activist to see if they desire to comment.

    I'm only using this program as an example of how not only mainstream media, but even public media strives to avoid answering questions with a straight face.

    The response that "except for pacifists and a few others who have legitimate reasons for opposing all war, most people thought this was kind of a just war response," is not only misleading but down right ignorant of the facts.

    General, as you know, you, I, and Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) make it clear that WE are not pacifist by definition of our military career paths and having love ones in harms way in wars our entire family does not support.

    We are NOT " few others who have legitimate reasons for opposing all wars.

  7. MFSO, the Peace group my military family belongs to answers the question about being pacifists very straight forward:

    Are you pacifists?

    Our members have diverse opinions about war and political beliefs. However, we all have in common a determination to support our loved ones in the military. We stand united in opposition, "not to war in general," but to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, on the basis that they are unjust wars which the U.S. waged based on lies.

    General, the complexity is that Peace groups that are not pacifists must unite with groups who are anti-war and oppose all wars. However, wait until the fiscal conservatives finally do the math and connect the dots on the costs of war and the U.S. economic melt down - it is only a matter of time. Hopefully, 2011 is that time!

    This in itself not only creates internal friction within what Peace Movement exists, but combined with the egos of leaders in said groups (both anti-war and Peace groups that are not pacifists) these are other complex reasons there is no recognized Peace movement despite actions like the 16 Dec 2010 protests outside the White House in the cold and snow as Veterans and Military Families led by Veterans for Peace chained themselves to the White House fence in civil disobedience that was totally ignored by the mainstream and public media.

    Anyway, my family has made its last contribution to PBS.

    Lastly, I appreciate the lead in to your article "Informed dissent is the highest form of patriotism" and wish to discuss something with you (a separate issue) about your college's Patriots Program compared to what feedback I've been getting from some research professors regarding discrimination against young Vets on college and university campuses today.