Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, From a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953
That was 55 years ago, America. What have you learned since then?
And yet, with this quote, I am reminded that not every American supports their government’s policy of constant war. Even presidents and generals are aware of the immense cost of war, in money and in lives. More people than ever before are aware that war cannot go on forever. To quote Eisenhower again:
“I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.”
I’m not just thinking of this one war in Iraq. I’m thinking of the military positions that the American government has set up all over the world – temporarily, of course. Bush has told his loyal subjects that, Don’t worry, we’ll have our troops home by 2004. Or was it 2005? Well, it’s 2008 now, and it’s obvious to everyone that the Pentagon has no intention of ever demobilizing their position in the Gulf.
Let’s look at history. What other places in the world did America invade a long time ago, with the promise to pull out as soon as the war was over?
All of these countries maintained a U.S. military presence long after the wars were over, and most of them do to this day. The only reason nobody is protesting the Marines presence in Japan and Korea is that there are no troop deaths being reported from those bases. Perhaps, in another 50 years, Iraq and Afghanistan will be “safe” too, and our kids will ask, “Why pull our troops out of the Gulf? They’ve always been there, for like, forever. Why change now?”
I think that’s what the Pentagon is betting on. Just keep them there long enough so that the people forget there ever was a time of peace. This makes me sad.
I’m sad that our troops (Canadian, American, British, Australian – all of them) are fighting wars under false pretenses that they do not understand or support, spilling their blood so that bureaucrats in Washington and London can stick pins in maps and claim a bit more territory, like some kind of berserk role-playing game.
And yet, I have hope, too. I have hope that the false pretenses will ultimately not be able to stop our troops from bringing freedom and safety to oppressed peoples around the world. I believe that our troops are not over there with the intention to create long-term power bases, but so that more people can sleep in peace at night.
If you ask me if I support the troops, my answer would be yes – but I do not support the governments that put them there.
If you are going to send these men and women overseas to free the huddled masses, to stand in the way of the thugs who beat up women and children, and to allow food and water to flow in abundance, then yes, please, support them. Give them the tools they need to do their jobs. Give them food, clothing, shelter, armour for their vehicles and bullets for their guns. Give them love and support. Tell them we’re proud of them.
And when they are done their job, BRING THEM HOME.