I can remember being a part of the collective body of “recruits” of Division 110 that filed through the corridor into the neighboring division’s deck on a frigid day in February 2003. We were the Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois, otherwise known as Navy Boot Camp. We were to endure nine weeks of yelling, anger, confusion and random acts of spite from our endearing Recruit Division Commanders (RDCs). After the first fortnight, everything becomes a blur and one slowly becomes accustomed to the unnerving torture of tedium. There was one day however, that, in a sense, stands aloof from the rest of the experience.
After shuffling in a height line across the hall onto the deck of the brother division, 109, we were told to sit in a semi-circle around a television that had been rolled into the room from an area downstairs, no doubt. The lights shut off, the television was turned on and, in that darkened frigid room, we watched as Former President George Walker Bush opened the floodgates of warfare upon an abstract enemy, terrorism.
As I was walking with a friend the other day, I verbalized my surprise in how quickly time had flown from then to now. “We’ve been at war for six years now … how time flies.” My friend offered a laconic truism that hit me hard – not because of the way that he said it or the profundity of his insight, but because of how simple and true his observation was. “Yeah, and what do we have to show for it?” You can add or subtract from the number based on which medium you find to have the most reliable information, but the information I found put the number of U.S. military deaths since the start of this war up around 4,000. Granted, it’s not anything like the Civil War or Vietnam, but does that really matter? Those 4,000 people are dead…and for what?
What is interesting is that this war was declared on an intangible, abstract thing – terrorism. It begs the question, how can the president of a nation whose military is under the department of “DEFENSE” send the nation’s PROTECTORS to war against in inanimate object. It’s that the same as waging war on something like hatred or ideas thoughts – hey, wait a minute, that sounds similar to George Orwell’s 1984 in which there were Thought Police and they arrested and brainwashed citizens who were thinking for themselves.
Excuse the digression. My point is simply to put some more food out there for thought. Isn’t there a point at which we ask why we’re doing something as a nation? If we’re really there to help Iraq and the “operation” is Iraqi Freedom, why have we not succored other nations from the fetters of despotism and tyrany – id est Sudan, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Tajikistan et cetera?
Let us depart by considering some of the sayings from the author of the Art of War, by Sun Tzu (孫子)
Thus it may be known that the leader of armies is the arbiter of the people’s fate, the man on whom it depends whether the nation shall be in peace or in peril.
There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.
Sun Tzu said: In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.