John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


War is Hell

Posted on December 16, 2011
Ron Paul was attacked for saying something perfectly obvious in the debate last night.  Nobody in his or her right mind in America wants to go to war with Iran.

President Obama won’t get much of a bump for getting our troops out of Iraq and out of Afghanistan, but Republicans won’t get anywhere if they criticize him for pulling the troops out too fast.

The American people are war-weary.  That is an understatement.

A new Gallup poll, released last week, showed that a record number of Americans fear Big Government.  That isn’t fear like you are worried that the government is fiscally responsible.  That is fear that your government is spying on you and threatening your family’s security and freedom.

Terrorism and technology have coalesced to give the government tremendous power to keep tabs on the American people.  And Americans don’t like it very much.

That explains, in part, why Ron Paul is doing so well in Iowa and in other places.

It was Eisenhower who said, ““When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war. War settles nothing.”

And wars never work out exactly as we might think.

Everybody thought Iraq would be quick and easy.  It was neither quick nor easy, and while we may be able to convince ourselves that because Saddam Hussein is gone and Iraq has a functioning government, the Iraq conflict was worth it, I am not too sure.  It is an open question as to whether all of that blood and treasure was worth it.

It does not suffice to say that the intelligence agencies may have been wrong, but our cause was right when we went in there on the pretext of weapons of mass destruction.

Our cause was wrong because our intelligence was wrong.  This is not to re-litigate was happened 10 years ago.  But we need to learn from our experiences in Iraq so that we don’t make the same mistake in Iran.

The New York Times reported this about our time in Iraq:

“ 400 pages of interrogations, once closely guarded as secrets of war, were supposed to have been destroyed as the last American troops prepare to leave Iraq. Instead, they were discovered along with reams of other classified documents, including military maps showing helicopter routes and radar capabilities, by a reporter for The New York Times at a junkyard outside Baghdad. An attendant was burning them as fuel to cook a dinner of smoked carp. The documents — many marked secret — form part of the military’s internal investigation, and confirm much of what happened at Haditha, a Euphrates River town where Marines killed 24 Iraqis, including a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair, women and children, some just toddlers.  Haditha became a defining moment of the war, helping cement an enduring Iraqi distrust of the United States and a resentment that not one Marine has been convicted.”

The Pentagon spokesman was put in the unenviable position of having to condemn the enterprising reporter for coming up with the goods rather than comment on the obvious efforts at a cover-up.

The point here is that war dehumanizes.  Massacres happen in every conflict.  Warriors get tired, they get scared, they get angry, and they start using their weapons in ways that in normal times they would never do, like mindlessly executing two dozen civilians.

That is not to excuse the conduct at Haditha.  It was reprehensible, and the men who killed toddlers, crippled old people and defenseless women should be prosecuted.

But in war, this kind of thing happens.

Which is why we should be very wary in going to war in the first place.

Ron Paul is right on one front.  We need to be far more careful about blundering into war.  The American people are not a people who love war.  We love peace.  We value freedom over security.  And we don’t like it when we fear our government more than we fear the common criminal.

It was William Tecumseh Sherman who first said war is Hell.  He was right and  we should never forget it.

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