So Was It Worth It?
by Laurence M. Vance: Legitimate
or not, I like getting e-mails from military veterans.
I do admit,
though, that this might seem like the last thing anyone would expect
after looking through my LRC
article archive and reading all the negative things I have written
about the U.S. military.
I have termed
U.S. soldiers invaders, occupiers, killers, destroyers, criminals,
and murderers. I have placed the responsibility
for their actions. I have charged them with helping to carry out
an evil U.S. foreign policy as the presidentís personal
attack force. I have blamed them for putting their
families through unimaginable and unnecessary suffering. I have
said of the U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan that
they died unnecessarily,
for a lie,
Yet, in spite
of this, most of the mail I receive from veterans is positive Ė
and especially from Vietnam veterans. Most of them realize that
they were young, ignorant, deceived pawns of the U.S. government
and the military industrial-industrial complex, whether they volunteered
or were drafted. Most of them also acknowledge that no American
soldier had any business going to Vietnam in the first place. Many
of them say they still have bad memories of the people they killed
and the things they did that are known only to them and God. None
of them have ever written to me and said they were proud to be a
Vietnam veteran. I know there are some proud Vietnam veterans out
there, for I have seen their hats and bumper stickers, but not the
Vietnam veterans that have written me.
It seems as
though the further back the war, the more anti-war the veterans
are. I donít think Iíve ever gotten a single note from any World
War II veteran that expressed anything but disgust and/or regret
for fighting in the "good
But this works
Some of the
most vile hate mail I have ever received has come from veterans
or active duty military personnel who have fought in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Although this type of e-mail more often originates from armchair
warriors, red-state fascists, reich-wing nationalists, bloodthirsty
conservatives, or war-crazed Republicans who have never been in
the military themselves, there is nothing more pathetic or tragic
than a self-righteous soldier who claims he fought in Iraq or Afghanistan
on my behalf so I could have the freedom to write the anti-American
attacks on the very military that is keeping me safe from terrorists.
received a lengthy response to my article "Marines,
Why Do You Do This To Your Families?" from a Marine veteran
of Iraq or Afghanistan, Iím not sure which (he said one reason he
joined the military was "for the Iraqi and Afghani people").
Because the writer was polite, didnít threaten to do me bodily harm,
didnít tell me to "go f___ yourself," didnít call me unpatriotic
or anti-American, and didnít tell me to leave the country and go
to North Korea or Cuba, I thought I would respond to something he
said at the conclusion of his letter:
So was it
worth it? Ask the women who now have fundamental human rights
for the first time. Ask the children who can now attend school
and get an education (schools that groups of insurgents havenít
hidden a cache of weapons and explosives underneath). Ask the
farmer who can now grow crops to feed his family, and his village,
rather than poppy fields to create opium to line Al Qaedaís pocket
(because if he didnít, they would systematically kill his family
until he complied). Ask the people of Iraq who no longer have
to worry about Saddam Hussein's regime of terror.
I have no doubt
that most of the women who now have fundamental human rights, children
who can now attend school, farmers who can now grow crops, and people
of Iraq who were maltreated by Saddam Hussein think that the U.S.
invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were "worth it."
But for others
it simply wasnít worth it.
First of all,
I only said "most" people in Iraq and Afghanistan think
it was worth it because some of them who lost arms, legs, or loved
ones to U.S. bombs, bullets, or drone strikes, saw the dead bodies
of people they knew missing body parts because U.S. soldiers took
trophies of their kills, or saw photographs of smiling U.S. soldiers
next to civilians they murdered for sport might not be so enthusiastic
about the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraqi and Afghanistan.
of American soldiers have lost arms, legs, and/or genitals. How
many of them think their injury was "worth it" for the
cause of womenís rights in Afghanistan? Thousands of American soldiers
suffer from PTSD or a traumatic brain injury and will never live
a normal life. How many of them think their injury was "worth
it" so children in Iraq can attend school? Thousands of American
soldiers are paralyzed or require constant medical care. How many
of them think their injury was "worth it" so farmers in
Afghanistan can grow their crops? Thousands of American soldiers
canít tell us what they think about womenís rights, childrenís education,
and farmerís livelihoods in Iraq or Afghanistan because they committed
suicide. More U.S. military personnel died by their own hand this
year than in battle with "terrorists" or "insurgents."
of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will exceed $4 trillion dollars.
How many American taxpayers think that restoring the rights of women
in Afghanistan and educating children in Iraq was worth $4 trillion?
How many of descendants of American taxpayers fifty years from now
still paying the war bill will think it was "worth it"?
are 4,400 U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq and 2,100 who have died
so far in Afghanistan. Each one of those dead American soldiers
has a son, a daughter, a father, a mother, a brother, a sister,
an aunt, an uncle, a grandmother, a grandfather, a niece, a nephew,
a cousin, and/or a friend who wonít see them this Christmas. How
many of them think it was worth it? How many parents of dead American
soldiers think that women in Afghanistan now having fundamental
human rights makes the death of their son "worth it"?
How many children of dead American soldiers think that children
in Iraq now being able to attend school makes the death of their
father "worth it"? How many grandparents of dead American
soldiers think that farmers in Afghanistan now being able grow crops
makes the death of their grandson "worth it"? How many
friends of dead American soldiers think that because people in Iraq
are no longer maltreated by Saddam Hussein that the death of their
friend was "worth it"?
there are tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans who donít think
the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were "worth it"
because they are now dead thanks to direct action of the U.S. military,
sectarian violence unleashed by the U.S. military, or collateral
damage courtesy of the U.S. military.
matter what "good" has come from the U.S. invasions of
Iraq and Afghanistan. None of it is worth an American soldier stubbing
his toe or breaking a fingernail. And people question my patriotism?
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, Rethinking
the Good War, and The
Quatercentenary of the King James Bible. His latest book
War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom. Visit his
© 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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