The other day, one of the regular commenters on the site posted an interesting comment. Because the issue resolved around a hot button topic these days, I didn’t want to get this discussion lost in the threads where people won’t see it or get to comment on it. I am open to debate on my answers. I hope that other veterans will offer up their personal perspective. So this one is for you Just a Citizen. I felt your questions and your reasoning behind who you wanted answers from was valid, so we will have this discussion out in the open where we can all learn from it.
So our good friend JAC posted the following comment:
To US, SFC, and other vets on this site: Our founders never envisioned us sending our military around the world and getting enmeshed in other folks problems. I would like to ask those of you who have engaged in other places on our behalf a few questions.
1. Do you agree witht the premise that our use of military force should be limited to only responding to those who attack us?
2. Should we form military alliances with others simply to prevent attack on them (this is one way we get sucked in)?
3. If you agree to #1, then can we defend our country by returning all military personnel to our own lands?
4. Your thoughts on what constitutes an attack on the USA, especially in light of the new enemy without a definitive country. Some folks forget Iraq was shooting at our pilots on almost a daily basis. If you were in charge would you have considered this adequate justification for invasiion?
5. How do we address groups like Al Quida and countries like Afghanastan(sp?)? This goes to the question of how to respond, militarily, to an attack by a group who is supported, or at least allowed to exist within, by a govt who controlls a country by force, not election.
This is not a trap or trick. I just don’t like the fact that the folks who have been closest to carrying out this country’s military and geopolitical goals/missions never seem to be given a chance to address the key questions. What is the correct policy and how should we go about implementing it.
I address this question to you and not BF or the others of us here who like to wax and wane philisophical. I want to know what you really think–Please.
So before I give my answers I want to say a thing or two about veterans because I don’t think they are given enough credit in this country. I don’t often talk about the military or veterans on this site. It is a political site after all and I try to stick to that topic. Many people pay them lip service. Many politicians say horrible things about our military and then go on stage and say “thanks to the brave men and women…” because they feel like not saying that is like saying “God Damn America”, not because they mean what they are saying.
So I want to say Thank You to every single veteran who has served your country with honor. Not all veterans agree with why they were there, or what the politicians are saying. But they joined the military to serve their country, to give something back for the greatness we receive in this country. Veterans come from both parties and all walks of life, and they, with very few exceptions, love their country. Regardless of what anyone believes, these men and women provide the blanket of freedom that gives us all the ability to speak our minds the way we do in a forum like this. And they do so at great sacrifice, often torn from their families and doing so for pay that is below the poverty level in America. And many have seen and done things that plague them with horrible memories and dreams for the rest of their lives. We don’t do enough to recognize the sacrifice of veterans or take care of the ones who come home, and as a country we should be ashamed of ourselves for that. So thank you veterans, my true brothers and sisters, for all that you have done. I am a proud veteran of the US Army. I am nothing special or different, just one more vet who appreciates what sacrifices veterans have made.
One quick personal note, I especially want to thank my father. Not only did my father teach me how to be a man, how to treat people, and how to love everyone who matters in your life, he served his country with honor and dignity. He left a part of himself in that shitty little country, and he never once asked for a thank you for doing so, but has taken the time to thank every single veteran he has ever run across, whether that man was the President or someone begging for change on the corner. He is the epitome of a great American and a good person.
So Thank You Dad.
Thank you all for indulging me for that minute or two. Back to our topic at hand. I have to admit that I had to think a little bit as to whether I wanted to get into this discussion. I know my views are not conventional. I also know that there are some aspects of my past I would rather not discuss and others that I cannot. But the decision that I came to was that I owed answers to these questions. I get to spout off nightly and all of you good folks take time out of your day to come and read my madness. And when we are discussing how to move forward with the country, I kind of see myself as at a minimum “leading” the discussion here. So I felt you were entitled to these answers. So my responses, perhaps somewhat grammatically corrected from my original response…
1. Do you agree witht the premise that our use of military force should be limited to only responding to those who attack us? Yes and No. I believe that we should be able to respond to aggression, no matter where it is aimed. We should only be able to initiate that response if the attack was aimed directly at us. So that means to me a direct attack on an ally can provoke us using military force, but only if that ally is formally requesting our help and they are not the aggressor. At that point, assist in repelling the aggression for them and disengage. The key here is we are responding to direct aggression in those instances. I do, however, feel we have the right to attack an iminent threat as well. But in a very limited set of circumstances. We couldn’t attack Iran right now, for example. But if they launched a nuclear strike on Israel and told us we were next, they are now a credible threat and I do believe we should take away their ability to follow up on their threat. The bottom line for me is that I don’t agree that we should be as passive as Kent or BF would espouse. However, we are far too active today, and should be doing far less. If we did, there might not be nearly as much of a need for such a large military.
2. Should we form military alliances with others simply to prevent attack on them (this is one way we get sucked in)? See above, lol, I should have read all the questions before I started to answer them. If they really are our allies, we have to stick up for them. We are the big guy in the group. If we went out with friends and one of us was a powerful brute and he didn’t defend us from some random guy in the parking lot who picked a fight, we would probably not be happy with him. I do, however, believe that this type of action must be in defense only. If England or Israel wants to pick a fight, they do so on thier own. And if the one they pick a fight with whips their ass, tough luck. We do get sucked in a lot now, but a drastic change in posture for us could change that and limit it greatly.
3. If you agree to #1, then can we defend our country by returning all military personnel to our own lands? We cannot and should not. In terms of Iraq and Afghanistan, absolutely bring them home. But when one of our allies allows us to have a base in their country, I have no issue with that. The second that ally wants us out, we should be gone. This allows us the ability to have a forward defense. A missle defense shield in old Russia isn’t a bad thing if it can shoot down a missle before it gets close to us. The key isn’t having all bases here, it is a change in posture that moves us to a completely defensive posture in those bases abroad. One big thing to consider is that our bases abroad do a lot to prevent attacks on our allies. Bad intentioned people know that we will jump into the fight, and they know it won’t take us three weeks to get there. Knowing that the US Air Force has fighter jets in a base in England or Italy is far more likely to make enemies think twice. The alternative is that it would take 2-3 weeks to float an Aircraft Carrier Fleet elsewhere to defend an ally, which is not nearly as much of a deterrent. Again the answer is not closing bases in ally countries, it is switching to a defensive only posture no matter where we are.
4. Your thoughts on what constitutes an attack on the USA, especially in light of the new enemy without a definitive country. Some folks forget Iraq was shooting at our pilots on almost a daily basis. If you were in charge would you have considered this adequate justification for invasiion? For invasion, No, for shooting back at those shooting at us, yes. I stop short of saying that we EVER had justification for invading Iraq. I will argue WMD proof verus not and the complete irrelevance of that argument to begin with, but that doesn’t mean I think we were justified to invade. Take some actions? Absolutely. Full scale invasion, which should be a last step taken against a country that is clearly offensive, No. An attack is just that, an attack. 9/11 was an attack. I know that the current environment makes identifying an enemy very difficult. How do you hold Pakistan responsible for the actions of a Pakistani terrorist? But I think moving to a far more defensive position can clear that up right away. We heard a lot about fighting terrorism in Iraq rather than here at home. Then we heard about how we couldn’t fight them because they don’t fight in uniform and they blend with the people. Let’s eliminate the second part by eliminating the first. Fight them here, on our turf, where they are clear aggressors and they don’t have the support of the innocent people. I will take fighting terrorists in my house over fighting them in theirs any day. But that is the tactician in me.
5. How do we address groups like Al Qaeda and countries like Afghanistan? This goes to the question of how to respond, militarily, to an attack by a group who is supported, or at least allowed to exist within, by a govt who controlls a country by force, not election. And there is the real question isn’t it? We address them by being who it is that we claim to be…. A better country that operates with a solid moral compass and stays out of the business of other sovereign nations. I will, at some point dedicate a post to this topic if you like. It is not easy dealing with Al Qaeda, but we should realize that they lose mass appeal the second that we are no longer a visible part of their world. It is much easier to convince people to fight us because we are the “Great Satan” when we are next door kicking in the door and holding people at gunpoint.
This is not a trap or trick. I just don’t like the fact that the folks who have been closest to carrying out this country’s military and geopolitical goals/missions never seem to be given a chance to address the key questions. What is the correct policy and how should we go about implementing it. And I appreciate the sentiment. I did a job for this country that was nasty and that I do not and will not talk about on this blog. And it does give me a different perspective on things, even different than most veterans. Answering these questions takes much longer than I have taken here, because there is the other side of things that I have seen, such as the woman who thanks a soldier for making her life more bearable in Afghanistan or the children who won’t grow up under Saddam’s oppressive rule. I am willing to hash out the issue if it is a topic that people want to discuss.
So I look forward to people’s thoughts on these issues. My answers may not be what people expect, but they are my answers! I hope that more of the vets on this site will throw in their two cents as well. I don’t think there is any question that we can go to just about any country and kick their ass militarily if we have a good reason to. I think the question comes in defining when there is a good reason. We seem to find a good reason far too often these days, and I am willing to concede that a change in our posture would probably be a good thing for our image in the world, and a better thing for our fighting men and women who spend too much time away from the families and loved ones.