“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” - John Stuart Mill, (1806 – 1873) English Economist and Philosopher
It is with this sentiment that I write today. There are many who believe there is no good reason for anyone, particularly this country, to go to war. I disagree. As ugly as it is, as devastating to those fighting and to the families of those fighting as it can be, there are circumstances, even in today’s advanced society, in which it is not only justified but a necessity.
The big problem is determining when it is necessary and justifiable. There are many armchair quarterbacks who believe they know those answers better than those who make the decisions. Yet those in the positions of power have access to information the rest of us don’t have.
Before President Obama took office he not only condemned the war in Iraq, he said he would end it almost immediately and bring the troops home. He also said he would close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and put all the detainees in prisons in the United States. Once he was elected and went to the White House to receive his national security briefing, complete with the top secret details to which he was not privy before the election, he changed his tune. He has finally ended the war in Iraq for all intents and purposes (it certainly wasn’t immediate) but Guantanamo Bay is still open.
People who condemn war in general make me wonder if they would ever fight for what they believe in. My ex-wife once said to me “I would rather wear a burqa than see another of our boys die in Iraq.” I’m not sure she meant it but what a statement. Are there those who are so against war itself they would allow radical jihadists to take over America? If our country, our freedoms and our way of life aren’t worth fighting for, what is? Our forefathers certainly thought it a noble and worthy cause. They fought the motherland, Great Britain, to secure our independence and freedom. Now, just 225 years later, we have Americans who wouldn’t fight, or even support a fight, to keep what our forefathers earned back then. It’s shameful.
I served in the U.S. Air Force for eight years and I’m extremely proud of that service. Fortunately for me there was no war going on at the time. I got out of the service in 1986. When Desert Storm began in 1991, the only thing that kept me from re-enlisting was the fact that I had a wife and a young son and a great career to support them. I couldn’t justify it to them to leave and go to war. But I would have gone.
“The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” In my book, truer words were never spoken. How sad it must be to see nothing in your world worth fighting for.
I believe war is a necessary evil. It is sometimes necessary for the preservation of freedom, sometimes for the preservation of life, be it our own or that of some downtrodden and mistreated people, and sometimes necessary for the safety of the masses. Those who fight it are not evil, except for those few who make their own rules. Those who fight it are doing what they are told, what they volunteered to do, and what they know needs to be done to preserve our way of life. Regardless of the place, the cause or the mission, the ultimate reason for war is for the preservation of America and our way of life. And those who offer their lives for the protection and safety of the people of America deserve our respect and admiration.
Yes, there are justifiable reasons for war. The casualties, the losses, are grievous and devastating but at times necessary. We would not be the United States of America if it wasn’t for people who put their country and their freedom ahead of their personal safety. And I, for one, am grateful to them and to every man and woman who volunteers to do the same thing today.