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Front Page » January 14, 2003 » Opinion » Are there reasons for going to war?
Published 4,359 days ago

Are there reasons for going to war?


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By RICHARD SHAW
Staff reporter

After wars are over, the victors, and sometimes the vanquished, forget how they began. The victors paint their winning ways in terms of confidence, that from the beginning of the fighting they thought they would always win the war. The vanquished just try to paint the facts of why they lost out of the picture. And if they were the ones to start the conflict they try to avoid responsibility for that too.

But let's not be abstract. Let's talk about the way the American people think about their past wars and their future ones. It seems obvious to me that there will be future ones, some we can now see on the horizon and others that we cannot suspect will happen. But in fact that does us little good, because in many ways the only thing we can judge the future by, is what has happened in the past. That is why history is so important; that is why we need to know history to understand what is happening right now and may happen in the future.

In 1915 the Turkish government took it on themselves to exterminate thousands of Armenians who lived in their land. Armenia as a country has existed off and on as a country in western Asia and it's ethnic population is spread between it's homeland, Turkey, Iran and present day Azerbaijan. The genocide that took place at that time mostly concerned adults; a whole generation was wiped out because they refused to become Muslim. The children who were not old enough cling onto their parents heritage were allowed to live as long as they were raised as Muslim Turks. Turkey was then part of the "central powers" that consisted of they, Germany and Austria-Hungary. At the time those powers were fighting France, Great Britain and Russia in the beginnings of World War 1. The United States had not entered the war yet; that didn't happen until 1917.

Americans heard about it, but did nothing. They soon forgot too. After all we were clear across the ocean, and neutral. We didn't want to get involved in Europe's or Asia's problems.

In 1931 some Japanese officers decided their government was acting too slowly for their liking so they took their troops and invaded the city of Shenyang in China, based on the pretext that a railroad owned by a Japanese company had been sabotaged by the Chinese. They took the city, set up a puppet government and declared it a separate state from China. Six years later they began their March on Nanking, and perpetrated what is now called the "Rape of Nanking." The rising sun's Army slaughtered at least 50,000 civilians and raped 20,000 women during the invasion. Many of those killed were used for target and live bayonet practice.

Americans heard about it, but did nothing. They soon forgot too. After all we were clear across the ocean, and neutral. Besides the Japanese and the Chinese had hated each other for thousands of years; it was just another skirmish in that long set of bad relations.

Hitler's Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1940. This invasion was sanctified by Hitler who claimed that the Polish Army had actually invaded Germany the night before taking a radio station in the town of Gleiwitz. Of course, if you know anything about Hitler at all, the attack by Poland was a fake that the German's had staged so they would have a reason to make ware on the Poles. The German troops were ruthless and in the end thousands upon thousands of Poles were killed, the majority of them civilians. And of course the Polish Jews were literally wiped off the face of the earth in the next four years. At the time of the invasion Hitler commented that no one would care much about the invasion and he even made reference to how the world had forgotten about the Armenians who had lived in Turkey in 1915.

Americans heard about it, but did nothing. They soon forgot too. After all we were clear across the ocean, and neutral. This was Europe's war; Germany was not threat to us.

That all changed on Dec. 7, 1941, when unchecked aggression finally came to our very own doorstep. Suddenly we had a lot to care about.

Today we are facing despots no less formidable, calculating or dangerous to the world. In the cast of history, people like Hitler and Tojo are seen as the villains they were in saner circles. But at the time of their actions, before their direct strikes on U.S. interests, as much as what they did was deplorable, it was easy to dismiss them as being petty dictators whose countries were incapable of really being a threat to our country.

In those days it took a big navy with dozens of battleships, a large army and formidable air force to be a true threat to world peace. Today all it takes is a few nuclear devices and a way to deliver them to selected targets.

These kinds of power hungry dictators have always used stories of outside aggression, plots to disrupt their government or other countries interfering with their affairs as excuses for what they did. They all have the habit of signing agreements with other governments and then ignoring those signed documents when it was time to make their move. They always used delay and appeasement, trying more civilized governments patience to the end and then they struck out of the dark, unexpectedly causing misery and death for thousands if not millions.

The dictators who rule Iraq and Korea at the present time are these same kind of individuals. Their past actions include human atrocities, ignoring treaties and agreements as well betraying the very people that live in their countries. They whip up the worlds sentiment against those that would stand in their way and use falsehoods, set up circumstances and outright lies to make their people believe others are a threat to them, while the real threat lays within the cathedrals of their own government.

No government is all good. All have their shortcomings and do things they shouldn't including the one we have here in the good old U.S.A. Our leaders in the past and some in the present have done some outrageous and corrupt things. This philosophy of supporting one side or the other doesn't come down to deciding between the black and the white of it, but rather the gray and the black of it.

One would have to be blind not to admit that a war against Iraq isn't about oil. Economics and national interest have always been one of the main reasons for war. But it isn't all about that exclusively as some would have us and the world believe. It's also about ending the reign of a horrific regime that has killed many people; it's about getting rid of a government that we know supports terrorism, even if we have little physical proof; and it's about freeing a people who right now don't know there is such a thing.

Americans have heard about it and this time they cannot do nothing.


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January 14, 2003
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