Wednesday, September 18, 2013

We the People: No American involvement in another Civil War

The American people led the way on the question of whether our government should intervene in Syria's Civil War. We the people moderated the Obama administration's impulse to bomb.

We remember Iraq and Afghanistan. Senseless wars, without outcomes.  We have some inkling of the complexities of the Syrian situation and the Middle East region. Shiites vs. Sunnis, Hezbollah vs. Al Qaeda. Violence without end.  A no-win situation. What extreme Islamist religious groups will benefit from our military intervention in the long run?   

The American people know it's a tight line, a fine line, not a "red line." 

Nor did we like the implication that somehow we were less humanitarian than the president and his advisors about the use of chemical weapons.  We were, and remain, outraged. But, we also hoped the president would be true to his word when he ran for reelection: explore options to war as forcefully as a military response.  Putin one-upped him on that.

In a recent op ed piece in the NYT (15 September 2013),  Frank Bruni spelled out in grisly detail "What War Means."

"Where did our thousands dead and wounded and maimed get us in Iraq and Afghanistan?   Here are some other relevant figures. Our country sent more than two million men and women to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 6,500 of them are dead. Tens of thousands were physically injured, including some 1,500 amputees. Iraq and Afghanistan were minefields, literally and metaphorically, rife with improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.’s. They were easy places to lose a limb.
      
Of the two-million-plus Americans who spent time there, “studies suggest that 20 to 30 percent have come home with post-traumatic stress disorder,” writes David Finkel in his beautiful and heartbreaking new book, “Thank You for Your Service,” which was excerpted in The New Yorker recently and will be published next month. 'Depression, anxiety, nightmares, memory problems, personality changes, suicidal thoughts: every war has its after-war, and so it is with the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan, which have created some five hundred thousand mentally wounded American veterans'.”
 
We the people are seldom unanimous on major issues; we are Red and Blue and Gray. We are conservative, liberal and moderate.  But somehow we were united, loud and clear, on getting into Syria.  We do not want another Iraq or another Afghanistan.  
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