Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday January 25, 2008...Long forgotten veterans

When I was in grade school, our principal had some war veterans stand up before an assembly - they were veterans of the Spanish-American War. This was about 1949 so these veterans would have been young men back in 1898 and about 70 years old when I saw them. I would venture to say that no one now knows any of the relevant facts of why those boys fought and died in Cuba and the Philippines. That is a war long forgotten now. The last German veteran of World War I just died. Two million German boys died in that war. There are just a few survivors left in the world from The Great War where millions died for some reason now not remembered. The old enemies of that war are now friends and they have new enemies. Wars come and wars go and boys fight and die but the reasons for the war and the fighting and dying are soon forgotten. What a complete waste! Many of those boys would have had good lives and had good jobs and raised good families and maybe a few would have made a great difference in their community. Their blood was left in foreign soil for no long standing good reason. Better to have spoken and negotiated and solved problems and worked at bringing peace than wasting all those lives.
Now every once in a while you get a really obnoxious leader of some foreign country who needs to be knocked down or eliminated, but surely there is a better way than using blunt force and spending thousands of lives. It's so easy to bluster and point fingers and make demands and to put others in harms way and it's so difficult to compromise and speak reasonably with hard headed people, but isn't it worth the effort?

We stumble into so many of these wars without thinking. We helped rebuild Germany after World War I. Our industrialists and business leaders saw an opportunity and helped rebuild the factories in Germany. We helped Saddam in his war with Iran. He was one of our allies. We don't see any further than the nose on our face. We have no long range vision at all. We helped Bin Laden in his fight in Afghanistan against the evil Russians. We now hate Bin Laden and like the Russians. The Germans and the Japanese were our worst enemies ever in World War II, now they are our best friends. We need someone with a bit more vision guiding our nation through the obstacles ahead - someone who is able to look beyond the next immediate problem and guide us toward a safer course.

We need someone to help us end wars and avoid future wars. We don't need any more veterans of forgotten wars to remind us of our short-sightedness.

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