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new featureAn Out of Country Experience-Part 22
(Please check the archives if you've missed previous installments)

Rebecca L. Morgan
Copyright? I didn't see any..
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Tales From The Barstool By: Clint Lien
Life's "To Do" Lists
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In My Opinion
By L.N.P.

The War.. "Conflicting Views"

Recently I've been deluged with emails expressing a wide variety of opinions about the impending war. In fact, so much has been written and expressed about the rightness or wrongness of this administration's policies that I hesitated to add so much as another word about what has already been rehashed over and over again until most of us tend to block it out. Seems that the pro-war and anti-war positions are pretty deeply entrenched anyway, and nothing anyone writes will change their respective opinions. Some of us, however, can find at least a kernel of truth in both positions and thus must struggle with that conflict. And that's what I want to write about.

I am fundamentally opposed to this war. I guess I've always attempted to separate what I considered the "just" wars from the "unjust" ones, and have based my war position on that premise. It's not as easy as it sounds though. For example, I am also fundamentally opposed to capital punishment. But when someone confronts me with a criminal whose offense is so egregious as to be an affront to humanity, and then asks, "Now, what if that happened to your daughter?" my position on capital punishment has been known to waver.

And so it is with the war on Iraq. I am positive that it falls under my heading of "unjust" wars, just as clearly as I was able to categorize World War II, or the war on terrorism after 9/11 as totally justifiable. If we fulfill our role, our moral obligation as Americans, then we fight to defend our country from attack, and we fight to protect others from genocide. The fact that we often do NOT do the latter is just one of the many hypocrisies of geopolitics. The additional fact that many of the despicable regimes we'd currently like to "change" have at one time been the recipients of American technology and "weapons of mass destruction" when it suited our overall needs is another of those political hypocrisies. Pile up enough of them and it's bound to create conflict for some of us.

I can't stand to relinquish the moral high ground, and that is what I hate most about this war. Launching a preemptive invasion into a country that is not posing an imminent threat to us makes us look a lot less like the world's peacekeepers and a lot more like the trigger happy warmongers we have historically deplored. Risking the lives of who knows how many thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens-50% of whom are children-who have absolutely no say in their country's policies, as well as the lives of the thousands who serve in our armed forces (who, by the way, have absolutely no say in their country's policies either-but at least knew the risks when they signed up) seems like a colossal overreaction to one arrogant, egomaniacal, homicidal evil-doer, but then again, what would an appropriate reaction be? Certainly, there were those who felt the same way about Hitler, and their reluctance to act, much less overreact, proved to be among the most shameful periods of political and moral decision-making ever.

Is this too such a time? Are we in fact being motivated by the knowledge that those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it? Are we facing an impending disaster that no one else has the guts to handle except the United States of America? Will history look back and thank us for having the courage to withstand most of the world's criticism and disdain in order to free the Iraqi people from the yoke of tyranny? Will the people of Iraq look to us as their saviors, and ask the rest of the world where they were when they were most needed? Is this our duty because our leaders know full well that all it takes for evil to succeed in the world is for good people to stand by and do nothing? Or is it simply that we believe that our awesome might makes us right? I don't know the answers, but I understand the conflict these questions pose for many patriotic Americans.

Still, in this time when the vital economic and security interests of so many nations are inexorably entwined, it seems almost frivolous to take such a gigantic leap towards destabilizing an entire region of the world, unleashing the weapons of war into an impossibly tenuous environment, and destroying once solid relationships with some of our most stalwart allies. With the majority of the world's civilized nations preferring inspections and negotiations to bombing and fighting, aren't we just a little bit concerned about the aftermath of our proposed actions? Do we really want a world where the struggling to remain relevant international peace-keeping organizations like the United Nations and NATO are forever rendered meaningless. This is a world already replete with world-wide terrorism. Have we any conception of how much worse it can become? And haven't we learned that even when we win the war we must be prepared to secure the peace?

I'm not going to speculate about how much of this is about oil, or our desire to control the middle east, or the horrifying possibility that by beating the drums of war it diverts our attention from our deepening economic woes at home. Enough has been written about that. I just wanted to raise the issue of the conflicts with which many are trying to deal. For some it's a moral issue: good against evil. For others it's about patriotism, or greed, or power. No one can presume to know what it's truly about for anyone but themselves.

But there's one thing that I definitely do NOT want it to be about, and that's the abandonment of the very people we have sent into the desert to fight this war. Although I will never subscribe to "my country, right or wrong," I also could not bear to think of another Viet Nam, where we put thousands in harm's way and then, ashamed and defeated, turned our backs on them. So, whatever happens, as Ted Kennedy recently said, "we need to close ranks around those we've asked to do our fighting." I agree with him on that one. Even if we hate the war, we must never again allow ourselves to hate the warriors.

Send me your opinions at Lynn@netlistings.com

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