Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Divided States of America

To say the war in Iraq has created a geopolitical stir in America would be a huge understatement. What’s its done is divided the nation.

Recently I was pointedly asked how I felt about the war in Iraq. Should we stay? Should we leave? As a soldier serving in the proverbial ‘sand box’, I literally stand in a unique position from which to offer an opinion.

For years I’ve intimately studied what constitutes Just War. In fact, a copy of Grotius’s immortal The Law of War and Peace sits here on my meager desk—a plastic locker box. I listened to nearly every hour of the House and Senate debates discussing the preemptive invasion. I’ve seen and have felt the devastating affects of war. I’d rather not be here in Iraq and I like to see fewer troops here. Who wouldn’t?

The foci of my graduate studies concentrated upon counterinsurgency, irregular warfare and counterterrorism. I’ve considered my own freedoms and the freedoms most Iraqis desperately want. Who can forget seeing the elation among the Iraqi people when the statue of Saddam fell and his cruel regime toppled? And on the corollary, oh, that you could hear the stories of the soldiers whose personal relationships suffer exquisitely because of the stress and separation of a war deployment!

Here’s the partisan hoopla: you’re either for the war or against it. You either want troops to stay in Iraq or you don’t. Like in other areas of debate, it’s either Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, Washington Post or Washington Times, CNN or Fox News, Hannity or Colmes. Well, it’s just not that simple. But no one wants to hear the argument of a middle-of-the-road position.

What I believe it goes back to is the question of Just War itself. There are debates and opinions on both sides. Without going into the weapons of mass destruction-question, let me just say this:

Prior to any warring commitment we need to consider holding back. We ought to be prayerful, be patient and negotiate. When in doubt, we should hold our ground; save treasure and spare lives. But when it comes time for war in whatever country or whatever land or against whatever people it may be, unleash the fury and wrath of a fiery Hades against them. Destroy and eliminate. Win!

Half-hearted wars or low-intensity conflicts fought with one arm tied behind the back reminds me of the outcome of the Mogadishu, Somalia mission in 1993—we tucked our tails and limped away wounded. If we’re going to commit to fighting, we need to win.

But still (aside from winning) I hold a middle-of-the-road position on Iraq. There are a myriad of points to consider. What I do see, however, is that it won’t matter whether a Democrat or a Republican gets elected to the Whitehouse; we’re going to be in Iraq for a long, long time.

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