When We Oppose An American War

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Ohg Rea Tone is all or nothing. He is educated and opinionated, more clever than smart, sarcastic and forthright. He writes intuitively - often disregarding rules of composition. Comment on his posts - he will likely respond with characteristic humor or genuine empathy. He is the real-deal.

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When We Oppose An American War

What happens when we the people do not agree with a war our government has engaged?  We have seen this before, we are seeing it happen now – and we will probably see it again in the future.  Are there boundaries of protest?  Are there definitions of war that all of us can agree on?

This writer has been as perplexed as anyone on the issue of Iraq.  We Americans were united in our determination to punish the people who attacked our country on September 11, 2001.  In less than two months Afghanistan was on fire, the Taliban scurrying for cover, and Al Quaeda running for the hills of Tora Bora.  All of us cheered the success of our military.

This writer is a child of the 1960′s, we turned 18 during the Tet Offensive in Vietnam.  America was losing 300 soldiers each week in this restricted police action.  There was no end in sight and the country united against the war.  Sadly, there were many who confused the warrior with the war.  Soldiers returning home were chastised by protesters.  The protesters were wrong, absolutely wrong.  But the protesters being wrong in their mode of protest did not excuse the unjustified war.  That war was started with a lie by the government about an enemy attack in the Gulf of Tonkin.The result of the arrogant government during the Vietnam conflict resulted in a new understanding of the duty of civil disobedience.

The war in Iraq was justified by lies and distortions of the truth.  There are differences between Vietnam and Iraq – because we learned from our experience in Vietnam.  Let’s look at some of the evolution of thought on war since Vietnam.

In the 1980′s Ronald Reagan was President.  His Secretary of Defense was Casper Weinberger.   Anxious not to get into another Vietnam, Secretary Weinberger had a set of preconditions to be met before recommending putting American troops in harm’s way to the President.

Here are the essential ideas – which have come to known as The Weinberger Doctrine:

  1. Restrict the use of force to matters of vital national interest.
  2. Specify concrete and achievable objectives- both political and military.
  3. Secure assurances of popular and congressional support
  4. Fight to win.
  5. Use force only as a last resort.

Reagan was followed by George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.  Both of these Presidents looked to the new military star power of Colin Powell.  Powell added to the Weinberger Doctrine – giving us the Powell Doctrine.

  1. Restrict the use of force to matters of vital national interest.
  2. Specify concrete and achievable objectives- both political and military.
  3. Secure assurances of popular and congressional support
  4. Fight to win.
  5. Use force only as a last resort.
  6. Require an ‘exit strategy.’  The idea was to avoid open-ended commitments.
  7. Emphasis on ‘overwhelming force.’

These ideas did not come out of thin air.  People like Robert McNamara, Weinberger, and Powell studied the history of war, they studied tactics, they studied combat, and they studied technology.  Historically war has been fought for some very meager purposes.  For love, for land, for commerce, for greed, for domination, for defense, for punishment, and for revenge.  The purpose of a military doctrine is to prevent wars for meager purpose.

With these notions in mind we Americans can reasonably ask why we are in Iraq, what was the strategy – was the use of force our last resort, was the fall of Saddam vital to our national interest, did we apply enough force, did we have concrete objectives, did we fight to win, and did we have an exit strategy?

The Bush – Cheney – McCain Doctrine is preemptive.  Not only preemptive – but coercive.  We will threaten the unilateral application of force for diplomatic gain – that feels somewhat like an oxymoron – Coercive Diplomacy.  But the evidence is clear – if we don’t like you we can kill you – and we dare anyone to do anything about it.  The Iraq War is an example of mindless arrogance by leaders who have lost their way.  They claim to be conservative – but in reality they embarrass most conservatives.  The conservative doctrine is absolutely opposed to ‘nation building.’

By itself this is not a new philosophy.  Reagan shot cruise missiles into Lybia.  Clinton sent missiles into Afghanistan – hoping to kill Bin Laden.  Other Presidents have acted unilaterally and preemptively with military force.

The difference is in magnitude and definition of ‘terrorist.’  No other President has unilaterally invaded a sovereign nation – bent on the destruction of that nation.  President Bush distorts the preemptive mentality of former Presidents by labeling countries he does not like as ‘supporters of terrorists’ – justifying any and all use of violence.

And back to the original argument – what is our recourse when we do not agree with the war chosen by the government.  It appears that we are taking an American approach – we are protesting at the ballot box. All of us support our troops – no one is blaming the troops for the unjust war.

John McCain has tried to make any war protest a personal affront to the soldiers themselves.  Either he does not get the point – or he is playing a political game with the lives of our troops.  McCain uses his stature as a POW to justify his twist of logic in a totally different war.  Whether right or wrong – the people of America will decide who they want to carry out this war.

This writer likes the preconditions for war as defined by previous Republican administrations.  Bush, Cheney, and McCain did not pay attention.  They used the anger of 911 to play a shell game with the American public.  Their quest for global military dominance took priority.

When preconditions are violated then we as voters have the power to change our leadership.  That is our Constitutional right and responsibility.

That is as it should be.

See: John McCain’s World View, Power and Control

Also: John McCain and Coercive Diplomacy

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There Is 1 Response So Far. »

  1. I am not a fan of Dick Cheney or GW Bush. But really, to roll only McCain in this inner circle is inane. How can we know for a fact that McCain did not have the wool pulled over his eyes? Suppose he was duped into believing what we all were. What are we (Americans) basing this on? Photo ops? McCain just feels we should pull our military out just a little later. The quote from him mentioning being there for a hundred years, is really taken out of context. He plans to pull the last troops by 2013.

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