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May 30, 2011

Is it “Ours to Reason Why?”

Steven R. Berryman

Regardless of your “party,” today is for remembrance of fallen warriors. It’s for respect, contemplation, and for prayer, as that freedom is one for which people died. The prayer part is optional; more proof that we are a free people.


Freedoms that make America exceptional and – still – a model for the world, emanating from The Constitution and Bill of Rights, are worth fighting for. That said, we are in a world now where rationales for war are deemed to be too complex for average citizens; we have an “ends-justifies-the-means” foreign policy.


Do we follow the War Powers Act, allowing Congress to monitor and enforce overreach by the Executive Branch? Or do we now govern by executive decree; the national security staff having replaced oversight?


Going to war means that some never come home. The seriousness of the horror means that we must constantly evaluate the semantics of our rationale for warfare. Is a conflict, police action, or incursion still a war? Does it make a difference if we expect to be treated as “liberators” upon occupation?


And what of preemption, the act of getting them before they get us? Does the “Bush Doctrine” alleviate us of our United Nations ligations to honor national sovereignty? Perhaps we are the “lone wolf nation,” a phrase going around lots now.


Does a good and righteous exceptional nation choose the laws it seems appropriate to follow? Or, are we a “nation of laws?” We can’t have it both ways.


America has had a very large “standing army” (in uniform) since World War II. This, the most recent large scale world war, never really ended, as the Cold War followed immediately afterward, along with the escalations of nuclear warfare.


Other than “a balance of power,” the great rationale for nukes was that although expensive, they allowed for smaller standing armies. Well we ended up doing both, billions spent into Eisenhower’s Military-Industrial complex.


With the fall of the Soviet Union, it was bragged, “we spent them into the ground.” Congress fought for seven months on what to now do with all of the leftover money, or “peace dividend.” By the time they were done debating, it was gone.


Now, our overreactions since 9/11, and the asymmetrical methods of terrorism – which is just another label for guerilla tactics – has “spent us into the ground” financially. We are broke as a nation, in large part by holding on to nukes plus a large and highly mobile standing army in an age when the world has changed. We finance a huge offensive force-projection stance.


Of course, we must stand eternally vigilant. Of course, the enemy will hit a grand-slam homer against the odds from time to time.


But when American fences and fortifications against the tactic of terrorists get too high, we end up living in our own cage. Freedom is a spirit, not a defense method!


Recently the temporary portions of the Patriot Act, intended to “sunset out,” and for good reason, have been voted back again. We must aim to make these provisions obsolete, as they may become toxic to the spirit of America if left unchecked.


Freedoms are “use it or lose it,” and we must never stop allowing ourselves to be protected so tightly as to be strangulating our national identity!


Naively I say, let’s stay strong, and not put our sons and daughters blithely into “harm’s way,” but only for the strongest of reasons, political expediency not being one of them!


The political rationale of fighting for the freedom of other nation’s freedom fighters – at times when we don’t even know them – should not be one of them. By what rationale do we enter Libya, but not Syria? How about Egypt or Iran? How are these lines drawn?


The king of terrorism is now dead. There will always be another, waiting a turn, and promoted to his place; then that man will need to draw blood to consolidate his power. Surely that cycle will continue.


If warfare for oil is the common thread, then where is the presidential leadership to create a new “Manhattan Project” to create economical fuels from our current mineral wealth?


Don’t turn me into a conspiracy theorist!


Why are we in a land such as Afghanistan still, even as the locals themselves admit to their own total inability to govern themselves? With bin Laden gone, why are we still there? It can be easily argued that the opportunity for terrorist acts will never go away, as the tactic works, and is cheap.


We must become smart as a nation, and not allow a nationalist ego to allow us to make bad decisions. Nobody is more pro-military and respectful than yours truly; I only ask that we deploy our military/foreign policy in a more open, honest, and righteous way…going forward.


Pray for the fallen warriors today, of all days; it’s Memorial Day 2011. Prayers are that they shall not have fallen in vain. It’s up to those they left behind.


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