Friday, June 27, 2008

Texas Monthly: Mission Impossible


William Broyles, founding editor of Texas Monthly magazine and Vietnam vet, writes a provocative column about the continuing war in Iraq in the July 2008 issue.

Everyone should consider his words.

Check it out and tell us what you think:


Will it ever end?



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24 comments:

Roger said...

Do we have an exit strategy for Germany and Japan yet?

We just marked 64 years on those.

The Federal Republic of Germany wasn't founded until over four years after the end of World War II. The occupation of Japan didn't end until 1952. Of course, Americans are still there.

Iraqis now have control of over half the provinces. Good things are happening there. It's happening on a similar schedule to WWII, and maybe even faster (the peaceful parts of the country are coming along faster than others, of course). Yes, I'd like it to be over too. But let's not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Anonymous said...

Roger-

We occupied those countries, but there was no organized resistance. No real resistance at all. We had clearly won the war and they accepted our occupation as inevitable. Americans were not dying during the occupation. So there is really no comparison between Germany/Japan and Iraq. That was just a whole different world.

Larry James said...

Anon 10:42, you are right. Roger, there is no comparison on any front to WWII and its aftermath--causes, strategy, value of outcome, cost benefit to nation, impact on the entire world, etc. As I look into the faces of Americans who work hard and still can't make it in my inner city neighborhood, it just doesn't wash, not at all. Then when I consider what we could be doing in the Third World, well. . .it overwhelms me. So, for me at least, it is a matter central to my work in terms of stewardship of resources in view of the need I see everyday and it is a matter of my faith, my understanding of Jesus and of just war. My question is this: why are so few folks not more outraged by this entire situation?

Anonymous said...

I'll take a shot at your question, Larry: (1) reluctance to admit vast resources and American lives were wasted on a "mistake"; (2) reluctance to admit there are limits to what America can do, even as the last superpower standing; (3) not knowing how to get out without leaving Iraq even worse than we found it.

Anonymous said...

Correct last Anon, and then there is the big one: we have no draft in place today. Bring back the draft. . .the streets fill up and the war is over. . .

Jake said...

Mr. Broyles displays a willful ignorance of the tragedies of the communist takeover in South Vietnam. But that isn't his main error. Simply put, the Iraq/Vietnam comparison just doesn't add up.
We're fighting a new kind of war here, and everyone knows that. Roger is mistaken to draw parallels to WWII, but Mr. Broyles is wrong as well to pluck an example from history (including his own strange interpretation of the post-war aftermath) that occured in a different corner of the globe and under vastly different conditions.

Things in Iraq have turned for the better in recent months. Perhaps this is just a temporary lull in what will continue to be a terrible struggle; particularly if Mr. Broyles' comparisons are accurate. But this is not Vietnam! Roger was is right when he warns us to not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Unfortunately, the American left has tied its political fortunes to the prospect of a Vietnam repeat in Iraq. We should keep this in mind as the politicians paint their different pictures of the situation there.

Steven said...

It's interesting that you mention compassion for those in the Third World, Mr. James.

Is our continued presence in Iraq so much more dreadful than the prospect of all-out civil war and widespread ethnic cleansing?

I understand being opposed to the war on ideological grounds, but to oppose it because it's hard... well this Marine says that's just inexcusable.

Larry James said...

Jake,thanks for the post. Iraq is not exactly like Vietnam; but it has its similarities for sure. For one thing, it is an impossible conflict for the US to resolve, as was the case in Vietnam. LBJ was misguided to think that he could win against people who fought with pitch forks and clubs. Lots of similar aspects in Iraq in terms of what we understand about the invaded culture.

Steven, thanks for your comments as well. I don't oppose the war because it is hard. I oppose it for the misguided, falsehoods upon which it began and now continues. I oppose it for its allocation of resources that could be redirected to the good of millions and millions. See comments above to Jake. Your assumptions about ethnic cleansing are only theoretical. . .and we need to face the fact that the suffering of the poor around the world is like such a "cleansing." Finally, I have to ask the hard question of our policy: "Why here?" in view of all the other troubled spots in the world. Difficultiy has never been a dynamic that I've shyed away from. It is not even on the table so far as I'm concerned. Waste, misinformation, duplicity, human rights violations--those are the issues long before we get to ideology.

Bread for the World said...

16,000 children die every day from hunger.

That's right, hunger: lack of food.

We currently spend less than $40 billion on foreign aid. The majority of that does not go to third world countries that suffer from starvation, but countries like Israel that are politically valuable to us.

Children in these other countries are dying and we are squandering our funds on destroying another country.

May God forgive us.

Karen said...

Mr. Broyles is 100% right. And I am outraged, every day, all the time, by this war. I'm also a little bit outraged at myself for not being in the street protesting it, as I did Vietnam.

The false pretext for going in the first place, the no-bid contracts for 'rebuilding,' the refugees by the millions, the horrific injuries and deaths of our precious soldiers... all of it... just overwhelming that the American people could buy into it in the first place, and that some of us STILL ARE.

All that is happening was predicted by those opposing the war in the first place, and I was one of those people. All you had to do was read! The information was available.

We have made a COLOSSAL mess of things, purely and simply, and the world will be reaping the consequences for decades. It's mind-boggling.

Anonymous said...

Jake-

An excellent, and in my opinion, an unanswered post. I find it interesting how people will say there is no connection between WWII and Iraq but it is so clear between Vietnam and Iraq. Larry, you are very intelligent, and I respect much of what you say, but I don't think your perspective on history is your strongest suit. There was also an excellent article on fox.com about the rebirth of Iraq Airlines including a 5.5 billion contract with Boeing. For some reason I cannot conceive of you posting an article like that. I also wonder if the US military were to elect the next president would they elect a liberal? I am just not sure that the young man featured in the article is representative of the majority of the military.

RCorum

Justin said...

Mr. Corum,

The majority of military donations have gone to either Obama or Ron Paul, both vastly different political figures, but who are both against the Iraq War.

I will say its interesting no mention of how Obama is going to do the exact same things, with Pakistan or whomever. The only war that our constitution justifies are ones that are declared, which this one isn't, and wars that are defensive, which this one isn't. And from a Christian standpoint, one stands on shaky ground trying to justify Christians supporting any war, whether it be in Iraq, Nazi Germany, Bosnia, etc. Being a Christian means there are parts of the empire you must not participate in, because they are directly opposed to the Way that we are to live. I do not see how one can love their enemies when they simultaneously want them to be blown to smithereens by our government. Oh yeah, and not to mention the thousands upon thousands of people who have no choice in the matter.

This war, and all war, need to end. Not because its a waste of money, though it is. Not because the evidence was in the best case manipulated, in the worst case manufactured, though it was. This war needs to end because war is evil and we as Christians are called to turn our swords into plows and our spears into pruning hooks. That is the life we live now. We have way too many Christians that have thrown all their eggs in the Iraq basket, and its smearing the name of the Prince of Peace across the world.

Justin said...

Mr. Corum,

The majority of military donations have gone to either Obama or Ron Paul, both vastly different political figures, but who are both against the Iraq War.

I will say its interesting no mention of how Obama is going to do the exact same things, with Pakistan or whomever. The only war that our constitution justifies are ones that are declared, which this one isn't, and wars that are defensive, which this one isn't. And from a Christian standpoint, one stands on shaky ground trying to justify Christians supporting any war, whether it be in Iraq, Nazi Germany, Bosnia, etc. Being a Christian means there are parts of the empire you must not participate in, because they are directly opposed to the Way that we are to live. I do not see how one can love their enemies when they simultaneously want them to be blown to smithereens by our government. Oh yeah, and not to mention the thousands upon thousands of people who have no choice in the matter.

This war, and all war, need to end. Not because its a waste of money, though it is. Not because the evidence was in the best case manipulated, in the worst case manufactured, though it was. This war needs to end because war is evil and we as Christians are called to turn our swords into plows and our spears into pruning hooks. That is the life we live now. We have way too many Christians that have thrown all their eggs in the Iraq basket, and its smearing the name of the Prince of Peace across the world.

Anonymous said...

RCorum, not sure what you mean by, "I find it interesting how people will say there is no connection between WWII and Iraq but it is so clear between Vietnam and Iraq."

What do WWII and this conflict have in common? Was WWII based on false, suprious intelligence? Was WII "preemptive"? Did we enter WWII basically on our own or was world opinion united behind our efforts in 1941? I am assuming that you recognize that there is no connection there.

Your comment seems to mean that you see no connection between Vietnam and this conflict, as Jake argued. While I understand Jake's point and while I agree with it to a poing--afterall, we didn't start the war in SE Asia, we were concerned about the spread of communism, etc; it is still true that there are comparisons that do hold up, as Larry pointed out, especially relating to our near complete absence of cultural and religious realities.

You should feel free to question Larry's and anyone else's view of history; but be ready for a debate when you cite Fox.com as a legitimate source for historical or journalistic perspective!

Just for the record, I've known Larry for a long time. You may not know it, but he earned a graduate degree in American History at Tulane University.

Joe S.

Anonymous said...

I find it ironic that a preacher is accusing someone with a Master's degree in history from Tulane of not understanding history.

Larry, your keen understanding of history and your ability to see the connections between history and what is happening on the streets for people today is incredible. Keep prophesying!

This country needs to hear the voice of Christians who rise up and call this country back to justice.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anonymous:

I have the guts to identify my self. Thanks for putting down preachers. Don't think that is the only training I have. People like you are the reason why I kick myself every time I post here. President Bush has a degree from Yale, but does that stop any of you from bashing him. Please don't hide behind Anonymous. The bottom like is that you attacked me and did not deal with what I said.


RCorum

Anonymous said...

Also, do any of you realize how sick America was of WWII by the time it was winding down? Everyone looks at history through their own colored glasses, and Larry is no exception. I think this blog has basically ignored the other side, and by that I mean the great strides we have made in Iraq. One other thing. I have never disrespected Larry's knowledge, and he never acts like some of you. Some of you have made it almost impossible for a different view to be aired without out come sarcastic response. The fall of the Soviet Union has been mentioned several times. Too bad no credit was given to the role of President Regan in their fall.

RCorum

Anonymous said...

Well, you put Larry down for his lack of understanding of history. "Not your strongest suit" is really a nice way of saying Larry doesn't know anything about history. I can see through the euphemism, and I think it's disrespectful.

We've all been taught a flawed ideology of U.S. History. Those who have pursued history to a higher degree of knowledge are aware of a deeply flawed, misguided notion of what it means to be American. The majority of us see a "white" washed, rosy-eyed history of our country... Read "The Story of American Freedom" by Eric Foner -- it's a crash course that revisits American oppression, slavery, and injustice from a standpoint many of us are unaware of.

I could sign a name, but would that really mean anything? Or is it just a ploy to redirect a conversation and reframe the discussion on me, rather than the topic.
Anon 11:10

Anonymous said...

The only reason why I wanted to know who you were was because of your comment about be being a preacher. If that was not condescending I don't know what is. How is questioning a persons grasp of the interpretation of history disrespectful? I believe, and stated so, that Larry is very intelligent. I meant no disrespect. I just think he was wrong. I don't want to talk about you, but I would like to know who you are. I have had a special interest in WWII history for over twenty years, and I am not sure you really know anything about me. And again, attacking people with much more advanced degrees than Larry has never been a problem on this blog in the past.

RCorum

Jeff said...

I rarely post to these kinds of issues in blogs and the responses because they get a little too far out of hand. But here goes....

I recently ran across some writings from Herb Meyer at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Mr. Meyer was the special assistant to the CIA and vice chair of the National Security Council. Part of his comments included some about the war in Iraq. I tend to agree with his more complete view of some of the root causes.

He said, "Islam, which developed in the 7th century, counts millions of Moslems around the world who are normal people. However, there is a radical streak within Islam. When the radicals are in charge, Islam attacks Western civilization. Islam first attacked Western civilization in the 7th century, and later in the 16th and 17th centuries. By 1683, the Moslems (Turks from the Ottoman Empire) were literally at the gates of Vienna. It was in Vienna that the climatic battle between Islam and Western civilization took place. The West won and went forward. Islam lost and went backward. Interestingly, the date of that battle was September 11. Since them, Islam has not found a way to reconcile with the modern world.

Today, terrorism is the third attack on Western civilization by radical Islam. To deal with terrorism, the U.S. is doing two things. First, units of our armed forces are in 30 countries around the world hunting down terrorist groups and dealing with them. This gets very little publicity. Second we are taking military action in Afghanistan and Iraq.

These actions are covered relentlessly by the media. People can argue about whether the war in Iraq is right or wrong. However, the underlying strategy behind the war is to use our military to remove the radicals from power
and give the moderates a chance. Our hope is that, over time, the moderates will find a way to bring Islam forward into the 21st century. That's what our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is all about."

I like the way Mr. Meyer boils down our activity throughout the world. It's a more strategic and complete view of the struggle.

I certainly don't believe war is acceptable, but then again, I don't believe sin is acceptable. As long as there is sin in the world, there will be war. I choose to see it as a chance to "give the moderates a chance" to control the radical element and free their people from the harshness of Islam.

War with a purpose to free people from tyranny is a noble cause -- even if it is war.

Thanks for the opportunity to share.

Jeff.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, I suppose it would be easier to agree with your conclusion if it were not for the fact that until this war began, Iraq represented one of the most moderate of the Arab states. What we have help create is a hotbed of terrorism--our intervention attracted terrorists from the outside and mobilized their radicalism, bringing it into a previously moderate, albeit oppressed, society.

Anonymous said...

That last comment makes no sense to me. Iraq "moderate"? Under Saddam Hussein Iraq was anything but moderate. He started an 8 year war with Iran, then invaded Kuwait. He did such a good job of snowing the world into thinking he had weapons of mass destruction he fooled us and we invaded. Once he was gone, Iraq's 60/40 Sunni/Shiite population immediately came unglued and started killing each other. Now what is or has been moderate about Iraq for in last 30 years?

Anonymous said...

RCorum and Anon 11:10:

You're both getting personal and defensive and diverting this blog down unfruitful paths.

belinda said...

The U.S. is not the "last superpower standing." What planet are you living on? What about Russia and China?

The war in Iraq is wrong on some many angles. Do some research. When Hussein was attacking Kuwait, Poppa Bush loved him. It wasn't until Hussein signed a peace treaty with Iran that he became our enemy. Regan was the president that supplied Iraq/Hussein with supplies for nuclear power.

Indeed, why aren't we protesting and screaming in the streets?? How can God forgive us when we sit idly by and do nothing? We are becoming complacent and "lukewarm."