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War is not the answer to today’s issues

I have four signs on the back of my car: “War is not the answer!”

I only remember one worthy war. I enlisted in WWII because it seemed an obvious need. Jews were being slaughtered and war seemed to be the only answer.

I, personally, have felt that none of our wars since have been answers to anything.

Vietnam was being taken over by communists was our war trigger slogan. Even after we were driven out, it hasn’t been a problem except for those killed and maimed because of the war.

Wars since, I sincerely believe, have been figments of our fearful imaginations or efforts by the military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about.

Eisenhower’s warning increasingly has been ignored. Certainly, there are jobs in defense industries and people do earn a livelihood. Can’t we find other projects such as our infrastructure?

We need to shake off this war phobia. Molly Ivins said this plain and simple:

We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. Every day, every one of us needs to … take some action to stop wars. Raise hell! Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, “Stop it now!”

I know, it will take more than that. We need to become members of a truly democratic society, of the people, by the people and for the people.

Wars have become our mantra. We are attempting to stop problems all over the world. We think we know best. We are going to decide which side we should help. Other countries in that region help their neighbors. We cause more mayhem. Once we leave, they need to make their own decisions anyway.

We haven’t lost as many people as other countries. We have more modern, lethal and whatever else is needed, but we are losing military personnel, lots of money and making enemies worldwide. Billions are spent causing astronomical debt. Now we are cutting social programs to try to pay off those debts. (One of our political parties believes the wealthy shouldn’t pay more taxes. It’s hard to believe, but they say that with a straight face.)

Isn’t it time that we speak loud and clear as citizens of this democracy? The March/April, 2013 issue of Foreign Policy Magazine devoted most of the entire issue to wars. I selected three points that impressed me most when considering the need for war, the very last of our efforts:

Know your limitations. We may be the most powerful country in the world and may be for some time yet, but we do have limitations.

There are financial limitations, and limits to what our allies are willing to support.

There are cultural, historical, geographical and demographical obstacles that are insurmountable.

Beware last success. Bad historical examples are common — not just Vietnam.

The Middle East did not welcome Western “liberation.” No flowers or sweets greeted U.S. troops along Baghdad’s streets — only IED’s. The surge in Iraq was not an indicator that a similar approach would work in Afghanistan as Gen. David Petraeus discovered too late.

Wars are often won by diplomats and businessmen — not soldiers. If history shows one thing, it is that if we seldom have sufficient perspective to know what is in our long time interest.

At the end of the war, Vietnam was regarded as a failure. Today, however, the country has a market economy and is integrated into Southeast Asia.

The Soviet Union is gone, in part, because it bled out economically while supporting ideological allies like the North Vietnamese. (Sounds a bit like us)

Can we make war our very last resort only when negotiation doesn’t work? I hope so for my five great-granddaughters.

Superior local poet, Bud Brand put it well in his poem, When it Reigns:

Let’s close the doors

On future wars

For no one ever gains.

All warring czars

Leave only scars

No matter which one reigns.

Bernie Hughes, Ed.D, is a retired educator who resides in Superior. He can be reached at bernie3024@