All who serve their country in the military are heroes indeed, heroes from the moment they put on their uniforms, and even before they go into battle. May they all be blessed and protected.
During the first half of the 20th century, America found herself engulfed in two major wars against very formidable foes. Both wars were won by the United States and her allies in less than 5 years collectively, that is, once America entered into the conflicts, though the number of casualties was staggering. When World War II ended, we were the most powerful nation on earth and during the Cold War became the presumptive leader of the free world. With that, however, also came the unenviable responsibility of “global cop.” Then in June, 1950, without warning, North Korea attacked her neighbor to the south. Because this was viewed as outright aggression, America, working through the United Nations, immediately came to South Korea’s aid. This was called a “police action” by President H. Truman. After approximately three years of heavy fighting, UN forces settled for a stalemate, and a truce was called. Thus, the first military action taken by the UN was over, at least temporarily, but a precedent had been set. America would lead the free world militarily against any and all aggression whether outright or perceived.
Here we are now at the end of 2018, 68 years after the beginning of the Korean War. During this period our country has fought in five major wars and numerous smaller military engagements paying a very heavy price over this period. Out of the 68 years, we have been at war for approximately 34 of them! That’s correct, 50% of the last seven decades has seen America at war in one hot spot after another, hardly a characteristic of a peace-loving nation. During this period, we have suffered over 100,000 dead and over 300,000 wounded. Tens of thousands of our young brave fighters have come home as paraplegics and quadriplegics, with Agent Orange and other manufactured chemicals flowing through their bodies causing serious illnesses and, quite often, eventual death. Untold thousands have come home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which can destroy anyone’s personal life including that of his entire family. To this, we must add the economic cost measured in the trillions, not billions but TRILLIONS(!), of dollars weakening our nation’s economic well-being and causing havoc with our infrastructure. Currently, we have our armed forces stationed in 150 countries around the globe, and hundreds of military bases.
Two weeks ago, President Trump announced the withdrawal of 2000 troops from Syria and has been severely criticized for doing so. His argument is that ISIS has been defeated, so let’s bring our troops back home. There are those who feel that the Kurds, allies of ours in the Middle East, will be slaughtered by the Turks, another ally of ours. Admittedly, I’m ambivalent about Trump’s action; we cannot betray our allies. Yet, to argue that there will be a resurgence of ISIS if we pull our troops out of Syria is to say that our troops will remain there forever because the current situation will simply never change.
As a world leader and as a people who have over a million of their sons and daughters in uniform, every one of them a hero, are we not entitled to a full review of our foreign policy given the history stated above? And regarding the Middle East, should we not give that region our number one priority? It seems as though everyone is attacking our current President as if he’s responsible for all that happened. Here again we need to review history.
Going back for the past 40 years, who among our Presidents has implemented a successful strategy for the Middle East?
- Jimmy Carter tried to democratize Iran, so he pushed out the Shah (Mohammad Pahlavi), and in came the Ayatollah Khomeini. This led directly to the seizure of our embassy in Tehran and a hostage crisis that lasted for over a year!
- Ronald Reagan came in and with an ill-conceived plan sent a peace-keeping force into Beirut where after only a couple of days 241 U.S. service personnel were killed by a terrorist’s bomb. Under his Administration commercial airlines were highjacked, and passengers were murdered. Americans were then warned that they flew abroad at their own risk as they could not be protected.
- George H.W. Bush then gave us the first Gulf War in order to get Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait. This war may have been the direct link to 9/11, which in turn took us into Afghanistan where we still fight after 17 years.
- George W. Bush and the so-called weapons of mass destruction led us directly into the Second Gulf War, this resulting in such a disaster that the entire Middle East may be lost forever.
- Barack Obama exacerbated everything by withdrawing our troops too early from Iraq which led to a resurgence of ISIS; he also gave us the Benghazi mess. Today, we see untold numbers dead with millions of refugees.
All this, yet it’s Donald Trump who is supposedly erratic and out-of-touch with reality. Again, this nation needs a thorough review of its overall foreign policy, not incessant attacks against a leader who wants to bring our troops back home and out of harm’s way.
Chris Andreas worked for IBM Corp. for a quarter century; then for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese for 18 years before retirement. Currently, he researches history and theological matters. Andreas has written extensively on Church growth, management, and stewardship, and has also written a novel.