Thursday, December 16, 2010

Is war ever worth fighting

My last post included a video of Joan Baez singing "Where have all the flowers gone?" The song was recorded by just about everyone in the 60's and it seemed to be a statement about the war in Vietnam. I was too young to really understand, but it seemed like a good time to be against something and the Vietnam war was an easy target (war as a target, that's something). Songs like this and "One, two, three, four, what are we fighting for?" (officially "I feel like I'm fixing to die" found here with mild profanity) were about as rebellious as I ever became. By the time I was draft age, the Vietnam War was a memory, a bad memory for a lot of people.

You may have seen that the review of the Afghanistan War is out, to be made official tomorrow. This comes at a time when "a record-high 60 percent of Americans think the war is not worth fighting," according this this article. The war has been raging on for just over 9 years now and an end is far away by anyone's judgment.

It made me think - is war ever worth fighting? Our President has said that this is a war of necessity (one of the few times he has agreed with former President Bush). A year ago he approved a surge, much like the one in Iraq, to send 30,000 more troops in, while also announcing an end date. Many on the left disapproved of this surge, wishing instead to get all troops out.

To me, the answer to the question can be found in a poem put to music by Pete Seeger, the same person who put "Where have all the flowers gone?" to music (the poem is found in the Bible, written by Solomon, the other Seeger song was from an old Ukranian folk song according to Wikipedia, not sure if Seeger actually wrote anything himself). According to the song (and to Solomon), "To every thing there is a season" and more importantly there is "a time of war, and a time of peace." If the Byrds sang it, it has to be so.

The real key is understanding when is the time for war and when is the time for peace. Most Americans would agree that 1776 was a time for war. Through a long fought battle, that wasn't popular with all Americans, we gained our freedom and began a democratic experiment that goes on today. Most people today blame Southerners for the Civil War, and while we did fire the first shot, the war would never have begun if the Union states had left the Confederate states alone. If you believe that the war was over slavery and that slavery needed to be ended (and I do to both), you'll have to say that 1861 was a time for war.

I may not always (often?) agree with this President, but I have to say that I believe he understands this concept. Sometimes, there is a time for war. We may soon find out if this is a time for war in Korea. I hope not. But I hope this President will continue to grow in his understanding of the phrase "a time to every purpose under the heaven:"


Patrick Jockisch said...

As a former Soldier who served in Iraq in 2003 I agree that there is a time for war just as much as there is a time for peace.

The thing that has really bothered me is the lack of planning for after the fighting has stopped. Soldiers are not robots, while we do volunteer to serve that doesn't mean that we want to be taken advantage of and sent to horrible places for years on end.

If you are going to declare war be prepared to fight the war and let the Soldiers do what they are trained to do. The war in both Afghanistan and Iraq would have been over by now if politicians would just leave the military alone.

Randy said...

Patrick, first and foremost, thank you for your service. I personally appreciate all that you did. I had a step-son in Iraq about that same time-frame, who knows if you may have been together. He's home safely and I take it that you're out. We need a lot more men like you.

It seems to me that there was not a lot of thought in Iraq given to how to end the war. After the initial push, it seemed to fade to the back of the newspaper and someone woke up a couple of years later and realized it was still going.

I'm sorry to hear that the politicians interfered, it seems that we would have learned that lesson after Vietnam.