Opinions

Give Peace A Chance

By: Robert Patton

There is a saying, sometimes attributed to Einstein, that insanity is doing the same thing again and again expecting different results. Of course when a repetitive exercise is done as practice it often leads to success, but when a repeated action never results in its intended and desired consequence, only a fool will fail to learn from the mistake.

There are a number of actions taken by our so-called “representatives” in Washington that certainly fall into that category. Take the present presidential primary circus, where we are constantly hearing about tactics and strategies involving sanctions, no-fly zones, proxy wars, air strikes, and even carpet bombing. Every one of these approaches has been tried in the past and invariably resulted in failure at best and disaster at worst.

Take a half-century of sanctions on Cuba which were and are strongly supported by neocons and Cuban refugees. That strategy had two verifiable consequences. First, it drove Cuba into the arms of the Soviet Union, and in second  gave Castro the ability to blame every failure of the communist economic system on America. Leading to the Cuban missile crisis; the only benefit being the opportunity it gave Kennedy to paint over the black mark on his record created by the incredibly inept Bay of Pigs invasion.

Sanctions imposed by Bush I after the Gulf War and maintained by Clinton, led to the death of as many as 576,000 Iraqi children, according to a 1995 UN study. When Madeleine Albright, who became secretary of state in the Clinton administration the following year, was confronted with such numbers and asked if it were worth it, she replied,  “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price—we think the price is worth it.”

Amazingly,  the figure, even in its controversial state, was later used to justify invading Iraq once more. The argument stated, unless we invade Iraq, more Iraqi children will die, overlooking the fact it was the U.S. and its sanctions that were responsible for those deaths.  

Now, as the government is lifting sanctions on Iran, strident voices are raised, warning about the consequences of giving Iran billions of dollars. Most Americans seem to be unaware that nothing is being given to Iran. The billions of dollars used belong to Iran,  legally earned in international commerce and frozen by U.S. power. Not only was their income frozen,  but the Iranian nuclear weapons program never existed in the first place. Iran is a signatory to the nuclear non proliferation treaty and has never been shown to have violated it’s standings.

Meanwhile North Korea is shooting off nuclear fireworks with impunity, even though we are still technically at war with the country. Although Iran has never attacked the United States, the reverse is sadly not true. It was our government that overthrew theirs and imposed the Shah, who ruled by fear until he was deposed in 1980. Thanks to the propaganda spun by Bibi Netanyahu and presented to Congress, a great many Americans see Iran as a threat. Yet, if Iran were handed a nuclear weapon and a delivery vehicle, it would be useless to them. Should they fire it at Israel, and even if it were to penetrate the Iron Dome provided by the generosity of American taxpayers and land in the center of Tel Aviv, Israeli vengeance would utterly destroy Iran. Israel, as is well known, has between 100 and 200 nuclear weapons ready to go right now.  

No-fly zones are a new idea that has no noticeable effect on Iraq through the years, in which they were imposed. American newspapers repeatedly reported that American fighters were under constant assault by ground fire. Strangely, this antiaircraft campaign had zero effect. No American planes were hit and no Iraqi antiaircraft positions were taken out. It all amounted to a game, in which, Iraqis were asserting their right to live freely on their own land and American forces were justifying their expensive operations.

Later in Libya, French and American forces ruled North African skies and crushed resistance to the “moderate” Islamic forces that opposed the Libyan government. We supplied these “moderates” with American weapons, which were put to good use in the Libyan revolution, once the conflict was resolved, the weapons were continued in use by many of the same “moderates”,  who now had a new name: ISIS.

Most of our Presidential contenders see ISIS as a new opportunity for new no-fly zone strategies. Of course,  ISIS has no planes, leaving the question as to just who will be grounded by this plan. France, the UK, and the United States will not be grounded and all three are pounding targets in Iraq and Syria with tons of explosives. Hopefully, these explosives will not release any greenhouse gases and leave only biodegradable residues, since we have our commitment to fight climate change, which must be taken into consideration. One can only hope that our F16s and future F35s will use renewable fuels. Ethanol anyone?

In 1991, when Daddy Bush ordered troops into Iraq, he declared an end to “Vietnam War Syndrome.” The Vietnam War was, at the time, the biggest boondoggle in American history. At a cost of over 50,000 American lives and billions of American dollars, Lyndon Johnson, otherwise famed for exposing his genitals to the press and pulling his dog’s ears, attempted to save Vietnam for a corrupt government in the South. He also expressed the fervent desire to not become the first American President to lose a war. For that lofty purpose, he lied to the American people, fabricating the Vietnam South, and encouraging the press to go easy on the bad news.

Johnson passed the torch to Nixon, who embarked on a program he called Vietnamization. Why should so many of our boys die when South Vietnamese boys could do the job. In reposition, we supplied weapons and training and saying “Go for it.” Does this sound familiar? It should since almost all of of our present candidates for the top job are talking this up as if it were a new idea instead of one that failed miserably back in the 1970s.

Now we call it their “boots on the ground” not ours. War by proxy didn’t work in Vietnam and it won’t work now. Richard Nixon’s plan was to bomb the North Vietnamese back to the Stone Age and he unleashed more terror from the sky than even World War II spawned. Of course the American armaments industry prospered, but we lost the war. World War II lasted for four years and spanned two oceans. The beginning and end of the Vietnam adventure are fuzzier, but that war lasted roughly twice as long.

Now, we are involved in a war that began in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the first Gulf War that followed. When will it end? As presently defined, this war cannot end. Americans, as well as the French and the English, have an albatross of fear around their necks. We seek to rid ourselves of fear by imposing it on others while, we give up our own freedoms in the name of security. We have just celebrated a victory against ISIS. U.S. trained elite troops backed up by American airstrikes have driven ISIS out of a city that they occupied and held for months. Go online and look at that city. It has been reduced to rubble. Now, imagine that you were a resident of that city. When ISIS came in you were unhappy. But now that ISIS is gone look around you. Your home is gone. So is your job. You almost certainly know innocent people that have died. It’s called collateral damage. The United States and its allies are not responsible. Stuff happens,

You may have noticed that whenever governments wish to deprive people of liberty they need a scapegoat, they need bad guys to fight and worthy ideals to fight for. The British Empire assumed the “White Man’s Burden” ,as it made war on the WOGS, that opposed civilization. Hitler convinced Germans that their problems were caused by Jews, Slavs, and those that denied the German people their right to lebensraum, living space for the master race.

As every member of the large field of Presidential hopefuls will tell us, we must live in fear. Our armed forces, already more powerful than the next eight largest put together are not powerful enough. Our President has assured us that we have the most powerful military, but, as many will tell you, it is still not powerful enough. Our intelligence services tell us that we are in such great danger that they must be able to access our most personal communications, requiring only the approval of a secret court.

And somehow, as we can seemingly afford larger and larger military expenditures, as we greatly expand the number of our enemies, we don’t have sufficient resources to keep our promises to the embattled and wounded veterans of our foreign wars. They return from war with missing limbs and psychological scars. Some are homeless, others find scant demand for machine gunners in the civilian job market. Not one comes back unscathed.

Meanwhile great fortunes are made in the armaments industry as we not only create the finest weapons in the world for our own troops, but supply those weapons to other nations and even to those “moderates”  who fight our enemies this year but may turn against us next year.

Our first president warned us against foreign entanglements. The president who, as a general, led us to victory against Hitler, warned us of the military-industrial complex. Since then, one president after another has led us into war. Jimmy Carter, the one president who avoided war, ironically being considered weak.

Barack Obama promised peace and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on little more than that empty promise. Almost upon entering the White House, he sent another 75,000 troops into Afghanistan. Now, as we approach the finals of the Presidential Primaries, only Bernie Sanders indicates he would avoid war and even Bernie wants to continue airstrikes and bombing in support of local forces on the ground. The problem being that every airstrike makes new enemies for the United States, steals badly needed resources from peaceful productive activities, and pumps prodigious quantities or pollutants and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

As the song goes, all I am asking is to give peace a chance.

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