A Question for Tom Cotton and Other War Mongers

cotton

I have been at my denominational Chaplain and Pastoral Counselor conference and we were talking about the concept of Moral Injury.  Sadly the concept while real is so misunderstood. Many in the Christian psychotherapy and pastoral counseling world have reduced the concept to what the soldier did on a battlefield that causes him problems and which he must confess to God to be forgiven. But the bigger issue in moral injury is not that, it is the betrayal of trust by the nation of those that they send to war for the most spurious and often illegal and immoral reasons.

Most people who join the military are idealistic and have a trust of their government, their leaders, their military services and even their churches and God that is a major part of their life. Sadly, that trust is betrayed when the nation sends them into wars which are illegal, immoral and place them in situations where they do or see things that break that trust often forever. This happened to many of our Vietnam vets and is happening again to those of us who served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Sadly, most Americans, about 99% have no skin in this game. The young men and women who go to war represent far less than one percent of the American population. Many ethnic minorities and come from either the middle class or the poor. Likewise, a growing percentage are men and women who grew up as military brats. I’m one of those, but I see a lot more now. In World War II even the political and economic elites sent their sons to war, but this is not the case today. In fact it is hard to name the children of any national political or corporate leaders who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. The only one that comes to mind to me is Vice President Joe Biden’s son Beau, who served in Iraq.

But even as we still struggle to deal with the results of the Iraq blunder, there are those who foolishly desire to involve this nation in another war. A war which can have no good outcome and which when push comes to shove few will oppose, because other than the incredibly small minority that serve in the military, no one has any skin in the game.

Senator Tom Cotton, a former Army Lieutenant and Iraq veteran, with about as much sense as Doug Neidermeyer from Animal House is beating the drums of war with Iran saying that any military action against Iran would be short and easy. Senator Cotton-Neidermeyer say that it would require just a few days of bombing to complete the mission of crippling Iran’s nuclear program.

Of course he is not alone there is a rising chorus of war mongers who want yet to wage another preemptive war. This would be a war that baring a direct attack of Iran on the United States or an ally that we are bound by treaty to defend would be illegal under every international convention. It would be comparable to the actions of Nazi Germany in its wars of aggression that we sent Nazi leaders to the gallows at Nuremberg.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert Jackson who served as the American prosecutor and worked with our allies to set up the Nuremberg proceedings made this comment which always should be for most in the mind of any American leader when considering going to war: “If certain acts of violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.” Justice Robert Jackson International Conference on Military Trials, London, 1945, Dept. of State Pub.No. 3080 (1949), p.330.

neidermeyer

If Senator Cotton-Neidermeyer gets his war, baring an Iranian attack on us or one of our allies it be illegal an tantamount to what we put the leaders of the Third Reich on trial for.  Likewise, it would be like the one waged against Iraq one waged under false pretenses which cost so many lives, bled the nation’s treasury dry and reduced our trust and standing in the world.  

We sowed the wind in Iraq, and with climatic struggle between the Islamic State and the Iraqi Shia, supported by Iranian Revolutionary Guards, are reaping the whirlwind. 

Senator Cotton seems not to get the fact that in any war the enemy gets a vote, and the Iranians, even if we manage to cripple their nuclear program will certainly exact a price in blood and treasure that Lieutenant Cotton-Neidermeyer does not seem to understand or appreciate. U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf will have to right off salvos of anti-ship missiles, swarm attacks by Iranian missile and torpedo boats as well as air attacks and submarines. No matter how well we do in defending against these attacks it is undoubtable that ships will be damaged or even sunk and many, maybe even hundreds or thousands of sailors killed, something not seen since World War Two. Likewise the U.S. installations in Bahrain and Qatar will be bombarded with hundreds of short and medium ranged missiles many which will get through our missile defense systems.

When the bodies of our dead military personnel come back, will Senator Cotton be there to meet them? I doubt it because for him, they are just the cost of war. Will he and his allies increase support for the bereaved families, or the wounded? I doubt it, because all of them are bent of cutting the benefits to the wounded, the broken and those shattered by war, because such expenditures get in the way of lining the pockets of their benefactors.

Yes, they will beat their chests and talk about “our heroes” and castigate as traitors those who opposed the war that they brought about in order to cover their guilt.

While we would eventually prevail in such an exchange it would be disastrous and further weaken our military as well as our standing in the world. But then there is the moral question, especially for those who like Senator Cotton and so many of the others who advocate an illegal, immoral preemptive war of aggression who claim to be Christians need to ask.

That question was asked by the iconic hero of the American Civil War Joshua Chamberlain on the front lines at Petersburg in the closing days of that war: “…men made in the image of God, marred by the hand of man, and must we say in the name of God? And where is the reckoning for such things? And who is answerable? One might almost shrink from the sound of his own voice, which had launched into the palpitating air words of order–do we call it?–fraught with such ruin. Was it God’s command that we heard, or His forgiveness that we must forever implore?” 

That my friends is what Senator Cotton and others of those who advocate yet another war of aggression need to answer.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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5 Comments

Filed under afghanistan, ethics, faith, Foreign Policy, History, iraq, leadership, Military, national security, PTSD

5 responses to “A Question for Tom Cotton and Other War Mongers

  1. David A. Budka

    When it comes to questioning the legality of war, you might want to consider the complex issues confronting nation states. One, there are nations trying to develop, or claiming to possess, weapons of mass destruction and the platforms by which to deliver them. Two, there are nations and ideologies that have little or no respect for the beliefs and thoughts of others. These can be either secular or religious. Three, Intelligence gathering is still not perfect, and the chance of politicians making brash or incorrect military decisions is very possible. Fourth, wars in other parts of the world have social, economic, and political impacts here in the United States. No longer can we hide behind the vale of isolationism.

    I am reluctant to judge our politicians either way. President Obama could be setting up Israel, the United States, and others for a nuclear attack. In recent months there have been news articles about ISIS uncovering Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons arsenal, and whether or not they might use them for dirty bombs.

    • padresteve

      I am not an isolationist by by far David and I resent being called that. I understand this things in ways Lt Cotton never will. I teach at a senior level US military Staff College. Likewise my military education as well as civilian education allows me to see all of this. National security is not just based on the use of the military element of national power. Cotton and most Republicans and for that matter Americans automatically default to that. We ignore the diplomatic, the economic and the informational components of national security much to our loss. If Israel which has hundreds of operational nukes and delivery systems for them and is not a signatory to any nuclear non-proliferation treaties cannot take care if this without spilling our troops blood and our national treasure as we allowed them to do through Bush in Iraq shame on them, and shame in us for allowing it.

  2. mrmoteeye

    Too many Americans are oblivious of the history of Iran over the past 75 years. Our interference in their affairs, especially the overthrow of Mossedegh in 1953, aggravates their pride. I would normally think we could understand how foreign manipulation would enrage, but after watching Netanyahu recently I wonder. We stood up to Krushchev when the Russians stepped into our sphere of influence in the Caribbean. Recently Putin challanged the West when we stepped on his toes in Ukraine/Crimea. The game of geo-politics is full of easily triggered snares. Beware, Senator.

  3. Marty

    How can the Senator be so sure that a few days of bombing would end Iran’s nuclear program? And even if it did, why should he think the problem would end there–or that it wouldn’t, in fact, get worse? We’re still dealing with the consequences of the war on Saddam Hussein (which include ISIS). How does he know that the consequences of bombing Iran wouldn’t be twice as bad?

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