Friday, February 06, 2009

A more serious note: Our Soldiers Abroad

Today, some people at SUNYIT set up this table for sending letters to soldiers abroad. I wrote one, but it was really stupid, and barely even coherent. You've seen what happens when I try to write on the fly.

Really, though, what sucked about it was that it wasn't genuine. The whole point of sending letters is to give these guys and gals a heartfelt message to lift their spirits. My message was weak and phoned-in. Something like this, I think:

"Calling you heroes doesn't even begin to say it. Stay alive, okay? You guys rock."

I know, it's awful, right? And the main reason is that, for me at least, it wasn't real. I somehow doubt I could have said it to any of their faces. Hell, I barely managed to write anything at all.

The problem I have here is that I'm reluctant to express how I really feel. Don't get me wrong; I have all the respect in the world for our troops. The fact that they put their lives on the line for our country is amazing, and the word 'hero' really doesn't do them justice. But this is a complicated issue. As you may know, I've always been against the war, and the more I see of the results, the more my opinions seem to be reaffirmed.

The Iraq war never should have been started. I know Saddam Hussein was a rotten guy and a ruthless dictator, but who are we to get involved in that? The Middle East has always been, dare I say, fraught with turmoil. Hussein was just the most recent in a long line of corrupt despots in that region. Religious, racial and political differences have always been the catalysts for war in the Middle East, even among the people living there. The whole Sunni/Shiite conflict still blows my mind.

My point there is that we didn't really do anything. We put one dictator out of commission and introduced the ideas of democracy to Iraq. Honestly, how long do you think that will stick? Hey, I might be wrong on this one, but if history is any indication, trying to establish Western ideals in the Middle East doesn't end well.

Even more importantly, I thought the whole point of going to war in the first place was to combat terrorism, but we haven't accomplished that at all. Even if we had invaded the right country, terrorism isn't restricted to any one of those countries, or even that part of the world. There will always be psycho extremists in the world; you can't just declare war on them and expect to put a stop to it. You can't fight them on the battlefield, and you can't negotiate in the embassy. All you can really do is kill them before they kill us, and that's not exactly a moral way of conducting international relations.

The bottom line is, the troops shouldn't be in Iraq. They still shouldn't. They may have done some good over there, but I don't see how it can last. God knows we can't keep them there forever, unless we just want to outright overthrow the country and make it a territory of the US. Those kinds of actions tend to be frowned upon in the 21st century. Whatever little good our men and women have done over there can be undone in half the time. In 90% of the population, fear is a more powerful motivator than hope. As long as the past is there to haunt Iraq, the people living there have no chance for a better future.

You know why I couldn't be sincere in my letter to the troops? Because the truth isn't what they need to hear, and I just don't have the balls to say to those soldiers what I really want to say. If I did have the balls, it would probably sound something like this:

"I'm sorry. Come home soon."

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