They Died in Vain
by Laurence M. Vance: The
Criminality of War
Since the beginning
of the war in Iraq, I have unequivocally maintained several things
about the deaths of U.S. troops. Every one of the 4,450 U.S.
soldiers who has died so far in Iraq has died unnecessarily, senselessly,
for a lie, and in vain.
point struck a nerve with a reader of a recent article of mine on
the Iraq war, "What
If Iraq Had Weapons of Mass Destruction?," that was reprinted
critic didn’t "necessarily disagree" with some of
my conclusions, he did "disagree on one major point":
did not die in vain. There is now a chance for freedom in a country
that did not have it, if that is in vain then we all must question
our purpose here on earth. I would not insult their families or
their honor by reprinting such an inflammatory statement.
Does this mean
there was no "chance for freedom" in Iraq before the United
States invaded? A look at what has happened to oppressive regimes
in the Middle East this year should answer that question. One bullet
put by an Iraqi into the head of Saddam Hussein could have given
Iraq a "chance for freedom." There was always a "chance
for freedom" in Iraq. And even if there wasn’t, who is to say
that the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands
of U.S. troops is a price that should have been paid to give Iraq
a "chance for freedom"? Is my critic willing to sacrifice
one of his children so Iraq can have a "chance for freedom"?
I don’t think so.
Look at what
has happened to our freedoms in this country since 9/11 and since
the troops started defending our freedoms by fighting in Iraq. Our
freedoms have gone down the drain. Is it worth giving up our freedoms
– like the freedom to travel without being sexually molested – so
that Iraqis can have a "chance for freedom"?
don’t discount the brutality of Saddam Hussein’s regime, some Iraqis
who used to have legs, jobs, fathers, mothers, children, freedom
to worship, and freedom to not be blown up by a suicide bomber don’t
think much of Iraq’s newfound "chance for freedom."
And why is
it that no totalitarian country has a "chance for freedom"
unless the United States intervenes militarily or otherwise?
As much as
I don’t like to write it and as much as Americans don’t want to
read it, U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq died in vain. This means that
their deaths were ineffectual, unsuccessful, and futile. Their deaths
were without real significance, value, or importance. Their deaths
were without effect, to no avail, and to no purpose.
I realize that
this truth might be especially painful to the thousands of Americans
who have lost loved ones in Iraq. I am not insensitive to the fact
that every American soldier killed in Iraq was someone’s father,
husband, son, brother, uncle, nephew, grandson, and, in about a
hundred cases, someone’s mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, niece,
or granddaughter. This painful truth should embolden those who have
lost loved ones to never support or encourage any relative, friend,
acquaintance, neighbor, coworker, business associate, or fellow
church member ever joining the military.
I would like
to mention three reasons why I believe U.S. soldiers killed while
fighting in Iraq died in vain.
killed while fighting in Iraq died in vain because their mission
in that conflict was undefined and unfinished.
When the number
of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq hit the 1,000 milestone in September
of 2004, President Bush said of the families of those killed: "My
promise to them is that we will complete the mission so that their
child or their husband or wife has not died in vain." Yet,
back in October of 2003, in front of a "Mission
Accomplished" banner, Bush
had already announced: "Major combat operations in Iraq
have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies
have prevailed." But if the United States prevailed and ceased
major combat operations, then what was Bush doing talking about
completing the mission?
Just what was
our mission in Iraq? To remove Saddam Hussein? To defend our freedoms?
To dismantle Al-Queda? To remove a threat to the United States?
To liberate Iraq? To respond to an attack on the United States?
To bring stability to the Middle East? To force Iraq to comply with
UN resolutions? To free Muslim women from oppression? To impose
democracy on Iraq? To retaliate for 9/11? To maintain the free flow
of oil? To protect Israel? To destroy weapons of mass destruction?
back in 2004 documented 27 rationales given for the war by the Bush
administration, war hawks in Congress, and the media between 9/11
and the October 2002 congressional resolution to use force in Iraq
and concluded that it was "the Bush administration, and the
President himself" that "established the majority of the
rationales for the war and all of those rationales that make up
the most prominent reasons for war." Another 2004 study
– this one prepared for Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) by the
U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform – concluded
that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, and Rice
made misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq. In
125 separate appearances, they made 11 misleading statements about
the urgency of Iraq’s threat, 81 misleading statements about Iraq’s
nuclear activities, 84 misleading statements about Iraq’s chemical
and biological capabilities, and 61 misleading statements about
Iraq’s relationship with al Qaeda.
killed while fighting in Iraq died in vain because the military
they were in was engaged in an unjust war and immoral war.
U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq a just war does not make it
one. A just war must be defensive, be in proportion to the gravity
of the situation, have obtainable objectives, be preceded by a public
declaration, be declared only by legitimate authority, and only
be undertaken as a last resort. By no stretch of the imagination
can the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq be called a just war.
In fact, the war violates every "just war principle" ever
invoked to justify a war.
What is the
purpose of the U.S. military? I think it is beyond dispute that
the U.S. military should be engaged exclusively in defending the
United States, not defending other countries, not attacking other
countries, not invading other countries, and not occupying other
countries. Using the military for other purposes perverts the role
of the military. Any other purposes, including not only enforcing
UN resolutions, nation building, establishing democracy, changing
regimes, training foreign armies, opening markets, and maintaining
no-fly zones, but even providing disaster relief and dispensing
humanitarian aid, perverts the purpose of the military.
Even if the
United States went into Iraq with the best of intentions and most
purest of motives (which of course it didn’t), is it the job of
the U.S. military to free the oppressed peoples of the world from
their autocratic rulers and totalitarian states? Absolutely not.
Not only can’t it be done, it would be a never-ending mission that
would perpetually shed U.S. blood and spend U.S. treasure.
killed while fighting in Iraq died in vain because of the Islamic
state they inadvertently helped set up.
Yes, an Islamic
state. A socialistic Islamic state under Sharia law in place of
the secular government that existed.. Did any advocate for more
war and bloodshed in the Middle East ever read article 2 of the
constitution? This article stands the beloved American principle
of separation of church and state on its head:
the official religion of the State and it is a foundation source
No law may
be enacted that contradicts the established provisions of Islam.
And what about
articles 30, 31, and 34? These articles establish an Iraqi Great
Society that would make LBJ proud:
shall guarantee to the individual and the family – especially
children and women – social and health security, the basic requirements
for living a free and decent life, and shall secure for them suitable
income and appropriate housing.
shall guarantee social and health security to Iraqis in cases
of old age, sickness, employment disability, homelessness, orphanhood,
or unemployment, shall work to protect them from ignorance, fear
and poverty, and shall provide them housing and special programs
of care and rehabilitation, and this shall be regulated by law.
has the right to health care. The State shall maintain public
health and provide the means of prevention and treatment by building
different types of hospitals and health institutions.
in all its stages is a right for all Iraqis.
This is the
constitution created by the United States-created and funded Coalition
Provisional Authority (CPA), not Al-Qaeda, Islamic extremists, militants,
terrorists, insurgents, the Muslim Brotherhood, or Islamofascists.
The administrator of the CPA reported directly to the U.S. secretary
of defense – not to Osama bin Laden, a Muslim cleric or imam, or
the Supreme Leader of Iran.
Peter King investigate this?
killed while fighting in Iraq died in vain. They didn’t die defending
anyone’s freedoms. They didn’t die protecting the United States.
They didn’t die fighting "over there" so we wouldn’t have
to fight "over here." They didn’t die to keep American
safe from terrorists. They didn’t die to avenge 9/11.
They may have
been sincere, patriotic, and altruistic. They may have fought bravely,
heroically, and passionately. They may have died sacrificially,
willingly, and eagerly. But they died for the imperial presidency
(Bush or Obama), the U.S. empire, the U.S. military, the U.S. military-industrial
complex, the national-security state, and a belligerent, reckless,
and meddling U.S. foreign policy.
It is not honorable
for a U.S. soldier to die fighting some unnecessary foreign war.
It is in fact a shameful thing. All Americans ought to be ashamed
of their government, its foreign policy, and the way it uses its
Why is it that
those who opposed this monstrous war from the beginning are not
considered the true patriots? Is it anti-American to think that
it wasn’t worth one drop of blood from one American soldier to give
Iraq a "chance for freedom"? How much more pro-American
could one get? Real patriots don’t want to see any more U.S. soldiers
die in vain.
M. Vance [send him mail]
writes from central Florida. He is the author of Christianity
and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State, The
Revolution that Wasn't, and Rethinking
the Good War. His latest book is The
Quatercentenary of the King James Bible. Visit his
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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