November 9 marked 15 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, built in 1961.
Amazing that it is 15 years. Our parents defeated the Nazi and Japanese regimes in WW II. A great victory that most people recognize.
Our generation defeated Communism. We never really celebrated the victory, partly because it went out with a wimper. A very good thing. The Communists of the Soviet Union, China, South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos killed far more people then the Nazi / Japanese war machine, and were more dangerous because they had the power to destroy the world in a nuclear war.
We did it partly with military force, including numerous small conflicts plus Korea and Vietnam. We also did it in part with a very large military build up that the Soviets could not match.
But just as important was civilian engagement, where we got to know the Russians and Chinese. They eventually saw that we were not so bad, and they saw that our system greatly outperformed theirs by virtually every measure.
Case in point - A high level delegation from the Soviet Construction Ministry, including the top guy, visited Chicago. My wife was the Director of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association. They wanted to see our Federally funded new towns. Beth and I took them to University Park, where we lived at the time. The development of University Park was not successful financially. The town is 90% African American, with very low housing values, but still provides nice housing. The Soviets could see that we provided quality homes and communities for our lower income people - much better than they could provide for their middle class.
We took them shopping at our malls. They liked KMart the best, and bought all kinds of things.
I think these contacts eventually convinced the leadership elite that their system was broken, and could not be fixed. They had the courage to change. And they have a long way to go, but the world is a far better and safer place today than 20 years ago. And I am optimistic that over time they will convert to quality democratic countries with good economic performance.
I see parallels between this war in Iraq and that of Vietnam. Both were political in nature and both were fought against perceived evils. Fighting Communism with human lives was just as insane as fighting a dictator's perceived threats. Iraq use to be a dictator state, now it's a terrorist state playground and our presence there has accerbated an already dangerous and volitile situation.
THERE IS NO WINNING A PEACE IN IRAQ
It will not happen, at least not for several generations. To do so, would require a dismantling of the ENTIRE Middle East, but not with combat or physical force.
The policing of the World by the United States of America is the forerunner to our decline.
Our current war is certainly divisive, and reasonable people can disagree on whether it makes sense or not. A large percentage of the world thinks we are crazy to be doing this. They could be right.
The argument for the war is complicated, but goes something like this.
We are now engaged in WW 4, having won WW 2 against the Nazis / Japanese, and WW 3 against communism.
WW 4 is the war against terrorism, primarily Islamic.
What were our choices after 911 and numerous other attacks - our embassies, ships, civilians, etc?
1. Do Nothing – always the first option for government.
2. Turn the other cheek. Forgive the terrorists. Very Christian. Hope they stop killing us.
3. Use diplomatic means and foreign aid to convince the terrorists to be nice to us.
4. Hire Hollywood to make movies to improve our image in the Islamic World.
5. Convert to Islam, confess the error of our ways, eliminate our hedonistic culture, and put women in their place.
6. Increase police and security in the US.
7. Hunt them down and kill them.
We chose options 6 and 7. I think that was probably the best choice.
Where did we choose to fight? First in Afghanistan, where the bad guys were in charge. We quickly whipped them, but are still searching for the remaining bad guys in their caves and hideouts. Takes a long time to find bad guys even in the US, and will certainly take a long time in the Middle East.
Then we invaded Iraq. Virtually everyone thought Saddam was a bad guy, who raped and murdered and started wars, gassed his own people, tortured many people, and tried to assassinate our President. We also thought he had or wanted weapons of mass destruction and that he might provide them to terrorists to use against us. WMD and terrorist links appear to be less than was thought.
Saddam was the kingpin in a very bad neighborhood of countries that hate us. Iran, Syria, Sudan, and Libya are also quite bad. By taking Saddam down, the other countries learned a bit of fear, which hopefully will help them not to support terrorists or provide them with WMD. Libya was the first shoe to drop - Kadafi had bombed our airplane over Lockerbie. Now he is promising to go straight.
The plan is to try to create a stable, affluent, peaceful democratic Iraq which will be a model for the Middle East. The Middle East would become prosperous, and drop their hatred of the west. Palestine could even become a stable democracy, and develop peace with Israel.
We would achieve something like we did in WW 2, where we helped create the quality properous countries of modern Germany, Japan, and Italy, or in WW 3, where we are helping former communist dictatorships turn into much better countries.
Now, this is certainly not easy. Maybe it is impossible. We may fail.
I am hoping that we prevail. We probably won't know for 10 to 30 years.
And the bulk of the shooting part of the war falls on our kids. Now it is their turn. So far, they are doing this part very well, with the same courage our folks have always shown in previous wars.
Just like our war with Communism, it will either end with a quiet wimper (We will gratefully accept that outcome).
Or it will fail. And we will find that out when terrorists get their hands on serious WMD, and deliver it to our cities. Hoping Chicago is well down that list. I would think New York, Washington, LA, and San Fran are ahead of us.
Keep your fingers crossed, and Prayers flowing.
I can't stand it. You start with a preconceived world view, then present a limited range of options and say, "Here are your choices." Most Americans can't think clearly enough to perceive that the preconceived world view is fundamentally wrong, and that there are in fact other options.
No doubt there are other options. This is an open discussion - propose some other alternatives.
Right. And it has absolutely nothing to do with control of oil.”
Craig - I am sure oil is a consideration. But we buy oil on the open market, from a variety of countries. We have always done this, and continue to do so.
We are not stealing Iraqi oil. It continues to be sold on the open market, at world prices.
We are faced with difficult decisions. Option 1 was always a good one, and perhaps the best option. I became pretty much of an isolationist as a result of Vietnam, and I still hate getting in wars.
What does every one else think we should have done? Might be interesting to conduct a little straw poll - vote for one of the 7 options I proposed, or come up with a superior alternative, and we can add that to the mix.
Pat B in Ireland
Perhaps we are IN world war iii. and it may escalate fast now that the warmeisters have been given a new four-year mandate.
the conflict involved in this 'war on terror,' which seems mostly to be a war on or against muslims, is surely planet-wide. it's not a blitzkrieg, but there' be plenty of time for things to boil up.
the scariest part seems to be that it's a guerilla (oh my, don't we itch to call them all 'terrorists?') war where it is hard to know who's likely to be activated to do something awful at any given moment.
send an army into fallujah and clobber the crap out of everyone in sight while the bad guys quietly get in their toyotas and go somewhere else to ply their trade. where's the next invasion in this peace whose war was over a year ago to be?
wait until one of the axes of evil are tipped over, iran or north korea. it'll be '1,2,3, what are we fighting for. don't ask me, cause i don't give a damn
and the american selective service system will be back in business because it will no longer be possible to hide a de facto draft within the ranks of the military reserves and national guard units.