I have written before about Veterans Day.
I think the final 5 paragraphs may be among the finest I have ever written and I stand by them.
I am at heart a pacifist. I think the Scriptural admonitions to "Insofar as it depends on you, be at peace with all men" and, "the wisdom that comes from above is first pure, then peaceable" and "pursue peace and the sanctification without which no man shall see God" and "the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace" are pretty clear; peace is a virtue.
Yet somewhat hypocritically, I also believe in a strong military to defend the borders.
But not to be outside the borders.
In the end, I have a very convoluted position where I believe nobody who believes in God should ever be in the military in any position other than medic...maybe chaplain..., yet those who do not believe, have at it.
Keep our soldiers within out borders unless someone invades us.
And wherever our soldiers are at, keep them safe.
If you send someone into combat, there are tools available to make them safer...body armor, communications and surveillance gear, vehicles, numbers...whatever it is...then you have a moral responsibility to do so.
Joseph Stalin thought otherwise. He had a huge population, so they were expendable and he made use of that. Untrained, poorly or completely unarmed, ill-clothed young men died by the millions on behalf of the USSR in World War II. He did not care...they were expendable.
How was that any better than the Germans who sent millions of undesirable...and therefore expendable...people to die in concentration camps? Because they MIGHT be able to pick up a rifle that may or may not have bullets in it when another guy got shot, so MIGHT do some damage before being killed?
And how are we any better if we have soldiers in harms way and do less than our best to ensure they have the best chance of survival, the best chance of good care when some inevitably become shot or bombed or mined?
Iraq and Afghanistan are bad, bad situations. It can certainly be argued...and often has...that we should never have been in either location in the first place. I would say the same for Serbia, Panama, and several other places we have been (and are) that we shouldn't.
But now we have to figure out how to make the best of a situation that exists. Making a second mistake because we made a first one is seldom if ever the right choice.
In no small part, the problems in Afghanistan developed because after we armed and helped them rebel against the Russians, we left them to their own devices. I have seen powerful arguments that much of the rage against the US from some elements in that part of the world were over our perceived abandonment.
So if now, after having removed the experienced leadership, we leave under-trained, underarmed, unprepared people to face the onslaught of the leftovers from the previous regime, are we setting ourselves up to face the same problem in another decade or two, only now with battle hardened people opposing, will we have made an even bigger mistake?
I honestly do not know. In a perfect world, we could bring our soldiers home tomorrow. No more killing. No more wounding. No more orphans and widows and hatred and anger.
Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world.
Bringing them home tomorrow could and probably would lead to even more chaos and bloodshed.
What I do know is that, while they are there, regardless of whether they should have been there in the first place or should be there now, they need to be protected and cared for.
To do less is to dishonor them and our entire nation.
On this Veterans Day I guess the best we can do is wish for safety for all concerned and for wiser choices going forward.
It seems like a weak finish to what I think is an important subject. But it also is appropriate, because it refers to how best to correct a probable mistake without making it worse. And that is something that never has anything but a weak answer.
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