This is not a pacifist treatise. There are times when fighting becomes inevitable. Some people, some countries just spoil for a fight and they won’t take no for an answer. The United States has been in lots of wars that have caused untold suffering. But did they have to be fought? We’ll start with Korea and go forward. That conflict ended in a stalemate that has lasted to this day even as the cold war, which was its backdrop, has disappeared. It would be hard to imagine a worse outcome for those people: a divided country, nuclear weapons threatening annihilation, extreme poverty in the North, land mines doting the landscape, families separated, paranoia, and lack of freedom have been the legacy. One could argue that had we not fought the war to a stalemate that things would be worse. Unlikely. Vietnam, the next major war we fought, illustrates why. That war was in many ways similar to Korea: It was fought in Asia, the purported aim was to stop communism and leave a divided country with the North allied with Russia and the South allied with the United States. The outcome was different though because we lost. The country united under the North’s, supposedly communist, direction. There was lots of talk then about how losing the war would be a catastrophe for the United States with other countries in Asia following suit down the communist path, and our leadership of the “Free World” in question. None of that happened. In fact, losing turned out better for us than winning ever could have. We have no troops there like we do in Korea, we have good relations with the Vietnamese, the country has become prosperous, and no other country went communist because of it. The only better outcome was to not fight it to begin with. Then there would be 50,000 less American deaths, many other lives that were ruined could have been saved, we would not have wasted our treasure on this ill-fated venture, we could have been a source of real peace in the world instead, and Vietnam would have prospered much sooner and with much less agony.
A bunch of ‘little” wars were waged after that. Conflicts in Grenada and Panama come to mind. There was no reason whatsoever for those wars. There was no threat, no enemy, no danger. The Persian Gulf War could have been avoided if we had not armed Iraq and Sadamm to begin with, and the conflict did nothing to bring stability to that region. The Iraq war was fought for oil and for no other reason. (The lies we have been told notwithstanding.) It ended up being a blundered war that did not even secure the oil supplies. Putting that 3 trillion dollars we spent to use on alternative energy would have bought us much more security and prosperity than what we got out of that war. Oh yes, then there is the lives lost, damaged caused, and bad karma created that cannot be quantified. Next up is Afghanistan, the longest running war in U.S. history and still going. This war is a disaster that has brought no good to them or us and never will. Yet we stay and stay, seeming to forget that we were supposedly there to go after a terrorist group that left long ago. These wars, all of them, had no righteous cause, no morality, and brought no good to the people we attacked or us. They all had the same ignominious reasons for fighting in common: the pursuit of money and power.
Over the next few weeks, I will look at the 2 World wars and the Civil War and contemplate what might have been had they been had they been approached differently. Until then I’ll leave you with this famous song lyric: “War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.” The way I see it less than nothing would be more accurate.