1974, Captain Oliver North had been away from his wife and small
children for several years. He had been fighting communists in Vietnam,
and training Marines on Okinawa to do the same. He had seen his
wife during periods of leave, but that had been about it. Finally,
a letter arrived informing him that she wanted a divorce. Mrs. North
had decided she couldn’t live alone anymore. The letter included
the name and address of her attorney. She did, however, want Captain
North to keep seeing his children.
was angry, and at first decided to grant her the divorce. He considered
his duties with the Marines more important than his family. Eventually,
some of his fellow Marines convinced him to leave his duties in
Okinawa and return to the States where he could reconcile with his
wife. One of them said to him, "The politicians in Washington
have thrown away the lives of so many young men. They don’t care
if your family gets ruined, or your kids grow up without you."
When his sincere attempts to patch things up were rejected by his
wife, he plunged into depression and even needed psychiatric care.
What was especially wounding to him was the realization that even
though his oldest child was almost five years old – he had never
really been a father. Captain North had been actively deployed for
more of his children’s lives than he had been at home. Even when
he had been with them in the same house, he usually left before
the children awoke, and returned home after they were asleep. As
he admitted in his autobiography, "My children didn’t know
who I was." The pressures of serving in a military engaged
in an endless war in Southeast Asia had claimed the North family
as a casualty.
counseling and prayer, the North family finally got back together.
A family catastrophe was avoided, and Captain North resumed his
advancement in the Marines. Eventually, as a Lt. Colonel, he would
serve President Reagan on the National Security Council. Today he
is an ‘embedded journalist’ for Fox News in Iraq, and one of the
chief cheerleaders for putting today’s young soldiers in the same
situation that he faced in 1974. Evidently, he has forgotten what
prolonged separation does to a family.
our military fighting a war in Iraq, we Americans are told incessantly
to ‘support the troops’ and to ‘support our president.’ Many of
those screaming these two slogans the loudest are the same people
who actively endorse the idea of the United States as the world’s
policeman. It is our duty, so they say, to send U.S. troops into
hotspots around the world to free the oppressed, to spread democracy,
and to stop weapons of mass destruction. Interestingly, most of
the commentators and politicians espousing this policy are lacking
both personal military experience and family in uniform. Which is
probably why they don’t understand that ‘supporting the troops’
means opposing the U.S. being the world’s traffic cop.
those who oppose the war in Iraq are those who are concerned about
innocent civilian casualties. Others are concerned about both Iraqi
civilian casualties and about the lives of our own men and women
in combat. Those are valid concerns, but one dimension of this conflict
seems to be completely ignored. Conflicts of this nature destroy
lives, even when the soldiers come home in one piece. Just ask Oliver
North about that.
wars, police actions, ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom,’ whatever you call
them, they all involve the same basic scenario. Men and women, usually
aged between 18 and 35, are separated for long periods of time from
their families. They are usually deployed near the future combat
zone to some staging area for months prior to actual hostilities.
After the fighting starts, they are then committed for additional
time under highly stressful conditions. After the fighting is over,
a large number of them get stuck as occupation troops for a year
deployed forces miss the births of their children. They miss special
birthdays, first teeth, first steps, and baseball games. Their spouses
are forced to become single parents for one or more years. The strain
is often terrible, as spouses sit at home worried and alone. Especially
for stateside spouses without strong family support, the situation
can become unbearable.
is a reason that ‘Dear John’ letters are a staple of military life
in times of war. Marriages are hard enough when husband and wife
are together. Toss in continuous separation and extreme stress,
and the fragile bonds that tie men and women together in matrimony
can snap. Having lived through this, many service members exited
the military during the Clinton administration, with its insane
tempo of ‘humanitarian actions’ in Kosovo, Bosnia, Haiti, Somalia,
the occupation of Iraq drags on, how many families will crack under
the stress? Based on earlier conflicts, it could be quite a number.
Despite all the joy among Shiites and Kurds at the fall of Saddam,
will it be worth it to the American families who become victims
of this war?
one of USA Today reported the story. An element of the 101st
Airborne was in a heavy firefight in Baghdad. An Iraqi man carrying
an RPG was hit trying to switch firing positions. A ten-year-old
boy ran out and picked up the RPG. A young soldier manning a machine
gun cut him to shreds. A reporter interviewed him about it almost
immediately afterward. The soldier was upset, but was being comforted
by his superiors and comrades that he had done the right thing.
One small incident, reported because an embedded journalist was
at the scene. The young soldier, visibly shaken by the experience,
will carry this memory with him for the rest of his life.
wars involving urban guerrilla and terrorist actions, the fighting
gets confused and bloody. Civilians often emerge as combatants.
In addition to the ten-year-old boy mentioned above, many other
Marines and soldiers have killed civilians at checkpoints already.
More killings will likely follow, if a terror campaign is stepped-up
by those opposed to U.S. occupation. The legality of those killings
isn’t at issue as the Marines and soldiers have a right to defend
themselves. The point is that we, the people of the United States,
have put these troops in an environment where young children and
women could be their enemies, and in that environment they have
to kill them to stay alive. Has anyone stopped to consider what
this horror does to our troops?
many of our men and women are now killers? What does it do to the
psyche of a young person to take human lives, possibly innocent
civilian ones? We know the answers to those questions. A lot of
our troops have now killed, and while the results vary from person
to person, the psychological scars of that usually run deep. Even
in ‘good wars,’ such as World War II, combat soldiers have suffered
horribly in the aftermath. Nightmares, alcohol abuse, drug abuse,
and various psychological conditions are prevalent among those who
have seen combat, and been forced to kill in self-defense.
who would commit our forces to global policing are not considering
the effects that killing others have on our troops. Even if we are
extremely successful, as we have been in Iraq, the survivors of
the war will have to live with what they have seen, and what they
have done. This is an acceptable though regrettable occurrence when
our forces are fighting to protect the freedom of American citizens.
When they are sent into battle to liberate or protect foreigners,
it is a sacrifice that is absolutely not worth the cost.
CNN, a story ran in which soldiers and Marines read out loud excerpts
from their letters home. As the father of a small child, one of
them made my blood run cold. An Army Chief Warrant Officer was reading
a letter to his young children. A helicopter pilot, he was definitely
a tough guy. Yet, as he read he was choking back tears. In the letter,
he asked the forgiveness of his children for missing so much of
their lives. He promised to make it up to them, if he could. This
officer, this warrior, this exemplar of America, was hurting and
distraught over prolonged separation from his wife and children.
He will never get those precious moments back. Other troops expressed
similar sentiments. Several of them noted in letters that they didn’t
want victory parades. They just wanted to go home.
than 10 minutes after the close of that story, a former Republican
Congressman appeared on a CNN talking head show to advocate global
policing. He recited a long list of countries including Sudan, Rwanda,
and Syria which are oppressive and whose people need ‘liberating.’
As he said, "As the world’s only superpower, the United States
cannot continue to ignore oppression and genocide, wherever they
occur. We must be prepared for more actions to come." The war
in Iraq isn’t even over, but this gentleman and his friends are
already talking up the next one.
wondered if the Army chopper pilot weeping for the time he has lost
with his children would agree that the U.S. has an ‘obligation’
to deploy him all over the world to ‘liberate’ people. The juxtaposition
of these two stories couldn’t be more jarring, or more indicative
of the separation the chicken-hawks have from those who actually
do the ‘liberating.’
advocates of global policing are not ‘supporting our troops.’ They
would have us send our military all over the world to liberate or
protect complete strangers, at the cost of destroying American families
who live next door.
a man sacrifices everything to save complete strangers, he can be
argued to be a hero.
a man is forced to sacrifice everything to save complete strangers,
then he is a victim.
global police actions, our troops are the victims of our altruism.
We feel better about ourselves because we are willing to turn their
lives inside out in order to ‘help people.’ Will God forgive us
for what we have demanded from them and from their families?
sailors, airmen, and Marines swear an oath of allegiance to uphold
and defend the Constitution of the United States. That oath does
not cover liberating Iraqis from their own government, nor protecting
Rwandans from slaughter by their neighbors. The parents, husbands,
wives, and children left at home desperately seek reassurance that
the horrible sacrifices they are making are worth it. They aren’t,
and inside many of them know that. Iraqi freedom is not worth the
empty chairs at dinner, the tears of lonely wives, or the cries
of the children who only want their mommies and daddies to come
home. This is not even to mention the service members who actually
am unwilling to trade the lives, welfare, and treasure of Americans
to protect and liberate non-citizens of the United States from their
own governments or their neighbors. To me, the lives of my countrymen
in uniform are more valuable than the lives of oppressed Iraqis,
oppressed Sudanese, or the oppressed citizens of any other nation.
is because I am a citizen of the United States, and I support my
Chancy [send him mail] is a graduate of the University of Florida
with a degree in Political Science, and a certificate in Eastern
European Studies. A former University lecturer in Poland, he currently
holds an MBA in Finance and works in Orlando, Fl as a business
analyst for an international software developer.
© 2003 LewRockwell.com