• War doesn’t work
    April 06,2013

    War doesn’t work

    The 40th anniversary of our withdrawal of combat troops from Vietnam was March 29, passing nearly without regard, either positive or negative. Can we look back and learn?

    The cost to those who fought is still painfully with us. The “domino effect” now seems such a pale concept. In Southeast Asia landmines still kill and maim on a daily basis and Agent Orange continues to work its evil on all sides.

    New data suggests the costs of the Iraq war will easily exceed three trillion dollars when we include the long term medical costs for our troops and their families. In addition, the death, damage and disruption in Iraq are unimaginable and probably much more costly. Some believe Iraq is more unstable and dangerous to the region than prior to “liberation.” I honestly don’t know, except what seemed simple, like Vietnam, has proved to be much less so.

    As we slowly edge toward withdrawing our combat troops from Afghanistan, it is clear both that we will continue to be involved for years to come and that we will leave behind continued, extensive turmoil. Again, what seemed so patently simple, to deny al-Qaeda a base of operations, has devolved into the unimaginable.

    War seems such a tempting, simple solution: send more young men — and now women — and more fire power and be on the “right side” of things. Wouldn’t we be much further ahead if we took politics and profit out of the equation and invested much more heavily in making sure people had jobs and food? Some say that approach is too simplistic and ineffective, but is it any more so than war?

    The many lives still in disarray 40 years after Vietnam are good reminders we need to find better ways to solve our differences. War simply doesn’t work.

    John Snell


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