History repeats itself, the old adage goes. We have yet to perfect voting rights around the globe, despite much activity. We have yet to eliminate faulty dictatorships disguised as “revolutions,” even with the same promises made by unilateral thugs. We still to use religion as a cause to the effect of terrorism, no matter how many reformers pop up. And we continue to perpetuate war, regardless of the economical, sociological and spiritual aftermath.
Why we fight is complex and includes a treasure chest full of buzz words. But in the end, the clichés are true. Freedom isn’t free. There is nothing civil about civil wars. And one can ask, “War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!” Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara once said, “I have participated in two wars and know that war ends when it has rolled through cities and villages, everywhere sowing death and destruction. For such is the logic of war. If people do not display wisdom, they will clash like blind moles and then mutual annihilation will commence.”
Yet while war has produced burned cities, death, economic downfalls and horrors unknown as well, war has freed African-American slaves, destroyed Nazism, released captives and ended tyrants’ reigns. In the middle of WWII, George Patton explained clearly why we fight the way we do:
“Sure, we want to go home. We want this war over with. The quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards who started it. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we can go home. The shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo. And when we get to Berlin, I am personally going to shoot that paper-hanging son-of-a-bitch Hitler. Just like I’d shoot a snake!”
Sometimes the only way to stop evil is to kill it. Appeasement was the philosophy that allowed Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, dictator of the Soviet Union, to build and build and build their institutions and cities of death. When good men do nothing, evil men prevail.
Since 1914 the world, primarily the West, has been at war. This year marks the 100-year anniversary of the perpetuation of the military industrial machine President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned America about just before leaving office in 1960. Since 1914 the West has been a part of World War I, World War II, the Cold War, the Korean War, the Cold War still, the Vietnam War, the Cold War still again, Grenada, Persian Gulf War, Middle East civil wars, The War in Afghanistan, the war on terror, the Iraq War, and now we seem to be heading into WWIII with Putin’s power grab in Eastern Europe.
We are always in a state of war. Americans don’t really know what it is like to live in true peace and prosperity. Ironically, the missions stay the same; only the destinations change. A soldier in the 1990s under Clinton might have spent time in more exotic locations, watching over nations and maintaining “stability,” whereas a soldier under either President George W. Bush or President Barack Obama might be in 100 degree weather battling an abstract army of Muslim extremists.
But now we face a moral crisis with Russia. President Vladimir Putin is positioning himself as a new villain to the west. Journalist Edward Lucas’ latest article is calling Putin’s recent takeover of Crimea and violence toward the Ukraine the foreshadowing of World War III. As new enemies in the Middle East decrease, old nations once again rise up. But this hostility Putin is demonstrating against NATO, the U.N. and Britain and America doesn’t look to be a cold war.
Obama has been passive-aggressive in his attempt to keep peace with the power-hungry leader. But the time to fight might be sooner rather than later. In the end, blood will be shed, and our world will continue to spiral into more and more anger, hostility and battles.
To the pacifists out there, while your idealist strategy sounds good on paper, the reality is that a big world will have big problems, and it’s been 100 years of fighting. Giving peace a chance won’t happen anytime soon. And staying positive won’t fix that.
Our only hope is that the good guys win. And America must be those good guys.