Here we go again. It’s not bad enough that we are wasting American lives, and billions of dollars, in prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so now we’re bombing Libya. Will we ever learn that A) We cannot be the world’s policeman forever; and B) If we are going to get into messes like this, we need to go in, do the job, and get out?
Remember last August, when the war in Iraq “ended”? I’m not sure that is a lot of comfort to the families of the eleven American troops killed there since the first of this year. Some of the soldiers were killed by members of the Iraqi military whom they were there to support.
The war in Afghanistan drags on and on, another bloody, miserable treadmill that is helping to drain our resources, and some of the finest young Americans, of our time.
Way back in 1986, American air strikes hit Libya in retaliation for Libyan agents bombing a nightclub in West Berlin; a terrorist attack that killed three people and injured 229. The stated purpose of our retaliatory attack was to reduce Libya’s ability to support and train terrorists, and to send a message that terrorism would not be tolerated.
At that time, the U.S. government said that Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was not a direct target of the attack, because it is not our policy to single out individuals for lethal attacks. I asked in a newspaper editorial back then, “Why not? If we cut the head off a snake, we kill it. If we just poke at it with a stick, all we do is piss it off.”
In the current attacks, press releases were quick to say again that Gaddafi is not a target. The purpose of the air strikes is to stop attacks on rebel forces seeking to overthrow the dictator. I ask again, why not kill him? He damned sure didn’t learn a lesson back in 1986. Why do we think he will this time around?
Yes, I know, this is a NATO action, and not just U.S. forces are involved. In fact, we are supposed to hand off most of the responsibility for the action to our allies. Uh huh, and how’s that worked out for us in the past?
In early 1991, we launched attacks against Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army after it invaded neighboring Kuwait. It took us all of 100 hours to drive them back into Iraq, and then we just stopped our thrust. Why? If we would have kept right on rolling until all that remained of Baghdad was rubble crushed under the treads of American tanks, we might not still have our kids fighting and dying there.
A couple of weeks ago, a young Marine captain addressed an event I sponsored in Yuma, Arizona. During the question and answer period after she spoke, one Korean War veteran asked why we didn’t just “clean house and end it in Iraq and Afghanistan?” He said that ever since the Korean War, American troops have been held back, and not been allowed to take the fight to the enemy on our terms.
Any of us that have served in uniform in any conflict since Korea, would agree. Restricted in when we could fire upon the enemy, restricted on how far we could carry an attack, and hampered by rules of warfare that made no sense, there was no way we could win.
This young Marine officer, an Afghan War veteran herself, did not hesitate to agree, and to admit that it made no sense to her either. She pointed out one big problem we have had forever, in that a soldier or Marine is sent overseas for a tour of duty of anywhere from eight to twelve months.
It takes them half that time to learn the ropes and become familiar with the area of operation, their fellow troops, and their counterparts from other NATO countries. Then, about the time they are up to speed and putting out their top efforts, they are rotated back home and somebody new comes in, to repeat the process all over again.
I hate that we have our young men and women in harm’s way, in godforsaken places where we have no business interfering. But damn it, if we’re going to send them over there, let them do the job and come home once and for all. Let them kill the enemy, because that’s what war is about. It’s ugly, it’s terrible, but if it needs to be done, just do it and get it over with!
Otherwise, let’s stay home, mind our own business, and protect our own borders from the invasion from the south that is slowly overcoming us. Will we ever learn?
Tags: American air strikes, American soldiers, American tanks, American troops, Americans killed in Iraq, attacks on rebel forces, Baghdad, bombing Libya, Gulf War, Iraqi military, Korean War veteran, Kuwait, Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, NATO, rules of warfare, Saddam Hussein, terrorist attack, U.S. forces, U.S. Marines, war in Afghanistan, war in Iraq