In the 1960s, there was a powerful song entitled, “Where have all the flowers gone” about the madness of war. I find myself continually humming the song and reciting its words as I drive in my car. The song causes me confusion because its basic theme is that all war is evil. Many liberals and left wingers believe in the inherent evil of war. I don’t.
I am a child of World War II which requires me to support “just war.” Ah, a critic would challenge me on grounds that any war can be construed as “just” because those who wage war invariably consider themselves to be engaged in a just action. I recall reading a statement made by Himmler to young SS graduates in which he said they would do horrible things, but should always remember that from horror would come good. World War II had to be fought to defeat Hitler and Japanese aggression which resulted in millions being killed. Allied troops had the right to feel justified in defeating the evil of Nazism and Japanese brutality. I respect pacifists as long as their numbers are small, but would feel fury if they had persuaded America to stand aside and ignore Nazism.
Confession, I welcomed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, not because of fantasy WMD, but my desire was a free Iraq in which people were no longer oppressed by an evil mad man. I argued in my classes in the 1990s for the overthrow of the Taliban because they oppressed women. The tragedy of Iraq is failure to act in a responsible manner once the Iraq army collapsed. I argued at the time for creation of a Muslim army drawn from Egypt or Saudi Arabia or Iran and Turkey that would assume responsibility for governing Iraq until such time as a stable government was created. I believed American troops had to immediately leave the area.
Instead, incompetents such as Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush made the flowers of death flourish until they filled fields with dead bodies. I understand al-Qaeda and terrorists did the actual killing, but Bush mistakes allowed terrorism to gain authority in Iraq. Where have all the flowers gone? They’ve gone to graveyards, every one.
My last confession. The horror of Iraq, which has resulted in 3500 dead Americans and over a hundred thousand Iraqis, makes me wonder if ‘just wars” are possible in modern times. I want to believe a “just war” exists, I know the present one in Iraq does not fit my definition.