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I am the wife and mom and sister and daughter of military veterans, with a husband who is still active duty. This means I often feel as if I have no political party that stands for me.
Why? Because both sides have been heavily involved in military adventurism for multiple reasons. Start with the Democrats. It was the D party that sent us into World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam. These forays varied in “goodness” of their fights, but the party that often claims to be pro-peace very clearly is not.
The Republicans once limited their wars to smaller conflicts and military interventions, like Grenada and El Salvador. However, with the Bush presidencies, that changed – George H.W. Bush initiated Gulf War I, and his son invaded Iraq and Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 attacks, giving peaceniks an actual reason to blame Republicans for war.
But here’s the problem: the military has progressively been seen not as a force for protecting the United States and our interests, but rather as a tool for bringing about the Greater Good. This sounds and feels fuzzy and nice – who doesn’t want to be the Superman to bring peace, justice, and the American Way to those victimized by bullies? – but it allows for not-nice moral justifications.
With such an enormous budget, the military is ripe for profit by scrupulous and less-scrupulous companies. Now, I don’t have a thing against profit. I’m a capitalist, too, and a staunch supporter of free trade. I do have a problem with officers creating contracts with military vendors, then retiring to go work for the vendors as a high-level corporate officer, generally pulling down a generous six figures or more. This happens literally. All. The. Time. I’ve seen it myself multiple times, after seventeen years as a military spouse. There are plenty of other abuses, like lobbyist payoffs and contract cheating. And then there are just the companies that stand to make more profits from straight-up selling military equipment or supplies when the military is more active in war.
We take great care of our veterans, especially now that Trump has fixed the VA medical system. Incredible advances have been made in prosthetic technology because the government is willing to invest in helping vets with blown-off hands or arms or legs get as close to a normal life as possible. But I’m absolutely certain every permanently disabled vet would much prefer his or her own limbs back to great government support. These things happen in war, of course, and before recent advances in medical technology most of these vets would have simply died on the battlefield. But —
Being the Good Guy makes it easy to justify open-ended wars. This is perhaps the most disturbing development in war as of late: the idea that, because we have a War on Terror, it’s not a conflict with just Iraq or Iran or Afghanistan or the IS, but rather a war against all terrorists everywhere – and therefore, just as with the War on Drugs or the War on Crime, it’s going to be a never-ending conflict. This is a terrible idea. One should never go to war without a clear idea of one’s objectives, a clear idea of what you want to accomplish to end all wars. Killing All The Terrorists is not a clear idea; it’s akin to Batman’s eternal fight against Joker and the other bad guys who are forever escaping from Arkham Asylum to commit more atrocities. However, while Batman is never permanently injured, I see far too many young soldiers using prosthetics, and there are so very many others with wounds that cannot be easily seen! Batman doesn’t consider suicide. Young soldiers with PTSD do.
(Oh, and let’s not ignore the idiotic limited rules of engagement instituted with the Obama administration that prevented our young men and women from even firing back when under attack without the approval of the REMFs in the Pentagon – people so far removed from the conflict they can’t possibly know what’s going on. This is the idiocy that helped lead to the atrocious lack of response in Benghazi, and the idiocy that continues in American cities today whenever police are barred from using rubber bullets and tear gas to protect themselves and American citizens from rioting mobs. The current administration significantly relaxed military rules of engagement, so I guess the Democrats had to find someone else to micromanage. I just hope they are equally willing to take care of the PTSD these police officers are bound to suffer from in the future. That’s the price of being a Good Guy when you’re not the one on the front lines.)
So with open-ended wars, the idea that we can “fix” our wounded vets, and the idea that we are the Good Guys, it’s even easier for the military-industrial complex to justify more war, more fighting, and more profits. This makes it even easier to initiate wars with no clear idea of how to get out of them. (Or riots, for that matter.) Again, capitalist here – I don’t have a problem at all with profits – but no profit is going to bring back the dead or regrow a limb.
The worst part is it’s BOTH parties who are sold on this. BOTH parties whose politicians are happy to work with war profiteers and others who benefit from war. There is no home for people who look at this and say, hey, there’s a problem here.
Or there wasn’t. President Trump has shown us a third way, though the media has hardly paid any attention to it. He has drawn down the wars in the Middle East, used financial and trade sanctions to punish our enemies, and even moved toward real peace in the Middle East with multiple Muslim nations signing peace treaties with Israel.
A strong military is critical to protecting our nation and our freedom. The problem comes when leaders get the mistaken idea that the strong military is wasted if not used. No, it’s there as a deterrent and emergency measure – just as a building sprinkler system or car alarm might be. When the military is used too much, it’s not prepared for the emergency that crops up, and it can cause damage to the very structure it’s designed to protect.
The Trump way of handling the military has given me hope that we can bring sanity to our ultimate foreign negotiating tool. Screw being the Good Guy – protect home and our interests, and let the rest of the world see us, as Reagan said, as a shining city on a hill. We don’t need to inflict freedom and justice on other nations; we need to trust their people to see what we have done and aspire to create their own version. Keep our strong emergency protection system at home or protecting the seaways, and give the rest of the world the freedom to make their own choices, wrong or right. Talk about peace and how to bring it about, but keep a firm grip on the club at your side.Published in