Dead Presidents

Historical facts, thoughts, ramblings and collections on the Presidency and about the Presidents of the United States.

By Anthony Bergen
E-Mail: bergen.anthony@gmail.com
Posts tagged "War"
Asker Anonymous Asks:
in your earlier answer about the peace prize you said its an 'arguable point' if anyone deserves it. are saying nobody should be given it at all?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

I’m saying it is an arguable point as to whether anybody should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year. It wasn’t awarded during World War I or World War II, and while I think if anybody is deserving of the award this year it would be Pope Francis, there’s also something to be said of the statement made by not awarding it at all.

There are always violent conflicts raging around the world, but given the extent and ferocity of the violence over the past year, perhaps this is a time to make a similar statement to that made by the Nobel Committee during the two world wars. While so much blood is being shed around the world, maybe awarding the Nobel Peace Prize just for the sake of awarding it is the equivalent of awarding the Nobel Prize in Literature to someone who spent the year burning books.

After experiencing the beauty of traveling throughout this region, where men and women work and raise their families, where children play and the elderly dream, I now find myself here, in this place, able to say only one thing: War is madness.

Whereas God carries forward the work of creation, and we men and women are called to participate in his work, war destroys. It also runs the most beautiful work of his hands: human beings. War ruins everything, even the bonds between brothers. War is irrational; it’s only plan is to bring destruction; it seeks to grow by destroying.

Greed, intolerance, the lust for power — these motives underlie the decision to go to war, and they are too often justified by an ideology; but first there is a distorted passion or impulse. Ideology is presented as a justification and when there is no ideology, there is the response of Cain: ‘What does it matter to me? Am I my brother’s keeper?’ War does not look directly at anyone, be they elderly, children, mothers, fathers. ‘What does it matter to me?’

Above the entrance to this cemetery, there hangs in the air those ironic words of war, ‘What does it matter to me?’ Each one of the dead buried here had their owns plans, their own dreams, but their lives were cut short. Humanity said, ‘What does it matter to me?’

Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction. In all honesty, the front page of newspapers ought to carry the headline, ‘What does it matter to me?’ Cain would say, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’…

…Here lie many victims. Today, we remember them. There are tears, there is sadness. From this place we remember all the victims of every war.

Today, too, the victims are many. How is this possible? It is so because in today’s world, behind the scenes, there are interests, geopolitical strategies, lust for money and power, and there is the manufacture and sale of arms, which seem to be so important!

And these plotters of terrorism, these schemers of conflicts, just like arms dealers, have engraved in their hearts, ‘What does it matter to me?’ It is the task of the wise to recognize errors, to feel pain, to repent, to beg for pardon and to cry.

With this ‘What does it matter to me?’ in their hearts, the merchants of war perhaps have made a great deal of money. but their corrupted hearts have lost the capacity to cry. That ‘What does it matter to me?’ prevents the tears. Cain did not cry. The shadow of Cain hangs over us today in this cemetery. It is seen here. It is seen from 1914 right up to our own time. It is seen even in the present.

With the heart of a son, a brother, a father, I ask each of you, indeed for all of us, to have a conversion of heart; to move on from ‘What does it matter to me?’, to tears: for each one of the fallen of this ‘senseless massacre’, for all the victims of the mindless wars, in every age.

Humanity needs to weep, and this is the time to weep.

Pope Francis, homily at Sacrario Militare di Redipuglia, Redipuglia, Italy, September 13, 2014.

(I just needed to post this again.)

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Should Edward Snowden win the Nobel Peace Prize?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

No. What has he done to further the cause of peace in the world?

The only notable person who constantly devotes their time and energy and influence to the cause of peace is Pope Francis. Every homily, every mass, every speech in every place he visits comes back to two things: peace and income inequality. 

If anybody deserves the Nobel Peace Prize right now — and that’s an arguable point — it is Pope Francis. Just today, visiting a World War I cemetery at Redipuglia, Italy, this is what Francis said:

"After experiencing the beauty of traveling throughout this region, where men and women work and raise their families, where children play and the elderly dream, I now find myself here, in this place, able to say only one thing: War is madness.

Whereas God carries forward the work of creation, and we men and women are called to participate in his work, war destroys. It also runs the most beautiful work of his hands: human beings. War ruins everything, even the bonds between brothers. War is irrational; it’s only plan is to bring destruction; it seeks to grow by destroying.

Greed, intolerance, the lust for power — these motives underlie the decision to go to war, and they are too often justified by an ideology; but first there is a distorted passion or impulse. Ideology is presented as a justification and when there is no ideology, there is the response of Cain: ‘What does it matter to me? Am I my brother’s keeper?’ War does not look directly at anyone, be they elderly, children, mothers, fathers. ‘What does it matter to me?’

Above the entrance to this cemetery, there hangs in the air those ironic words of war, ‘What does it matter to me?’ Each one of the dead buried here had their owns plans, their own dreams, but their lives were cut short. Humanity said, ‘What does it matter to me?’

Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction. In all honesty, the front page of newspapers ought to carry the headline, ‘What does it matter to me?’ Cain would say, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’…

…Here lie many victims. Today, we remember them. There are tears, there is sadness. From this place we remember all the victims of every war.

Today, too, the victims are many. How is this possible? It is so because in today’s world, behind the scenes, there are interests, geopolitical strategies, lust for money and power, and there is the manufacture and sale of arms, which seem to be so important! 

And these plotters of terrorism, these schemers of conflicts, just like arms dealers, have engraved in their hearts, ‘What does it matter to me?’ It is the task of the wise to recognize errors, to feel pain, to repent, to beg for pardon and to cry.

With this ‘What does it matter to me?’ in their hearts, the merchants of war perhaps have made a great deal of money. but their corrupted hearts have lost the capacity to cry. That ‘What does it matter to me?’ prevents the tears. Cain did not cry. The shadow of Cain hangs over us today in this cemetery. It is seen here. It is seen from 1914 right up to our own time. It is seen even in the present.

With the heart of a son, a brother, a father, I ask each of you, indeed for all of us, to have a conversion of heart; to move on from ‘What does it matter to me?’, to tears: for each one of the fallen of this ‘senseless massacre’, for all the victims of the mindless wars, in every age.

Humanity needs to weep, and this is the time to weep.”

I think that an argument could be made for that, but when it comes to direct, day-to-day involvement, our military’s war in Iraq officially ended when the last U.S. troops were withdrawn from the country in December 2011.

Anything that’s happened since then, or anything that happens in the near-future with ISIS and other insurgencies requiring assistance from the United States and an international coalition of partners is certainly related to the original war, but should be considered a separate, new conflict historically.

The scary thing is that going to war doesn’t seem like such a major step anymore because it feels like we have just been at war constantly in Iraq (even after the withdrawal) and because we have been at war for thirteen years in Afghanistan. We’ve been conditioned to believe that war is just something that is always happening — as if that’s not a very bad thing or extraordinary event. War has become the default setting for the United States.

According to the United Nations Office of Human Rights (via Vox), there have been more people killed in the last three years during the Syrian civil war than the number of Americans killed in combat in the Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, War in Afghanistan, and War in Iraq. Combined.

I’m just curious — when does the word “genocide” enter into the conversation?

Although a soldier by profession, I have never felt any sort of fondness for war, and I have never advocated it, except as a means for peace.
Ulysses S. Grant, post-Presidential speech in London, England during Grant’s world tour

Bullets are not worth considering. Besides I am so conceited that I do not think the Gods would create so potent a being for so prosaic an ending.

Winston Churchill, 21 years old, in a letter to his mother after his first experience of being shot at in combat, 1895

While doing some genealogical research online, I found my great-grandfather’s draft registration card from World War I.  Pretty cool.  If you have ancestors who were eligible for the draft during World War I (I believe the age range was 18-45 by the end of the war), you can search for their registration cards here.

I highly suggest that you go over to The American Scholar and read Neil Shea’s article about a platoon he was embedded with in Afghanistan.  I’m sickened by it, and if you are human, I would imagine you will be, too.  If you wonder why we’re not “winning the hearts and minds” of the people in countries we are supposedly “liberating”, it’s partly because the United States is being represented (in some cases, not all) by garbage like the troops that Shea spent time with.  A band of brothers?  No, this particular group is more like a retinue of war criminals and a tornado of cultural insensitivity.  In the unlikely event that someone from Afghanistan is reading my blog I hope they’ll understand that people like this don’t represent the United States that I believe in and hope for.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
why do people say we're at war for nothing? what are we really at war for? do you support the wars?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Well, many Americans (myself included) don’t feel like we accomplished anything in Iraq.  Yes, Saddam Hussein is dead, but our role in this world is not to change terrible regimes.  We used intelligence that was faulty at best, but more accurately just completely made up to justify a costly, deadly invasion of a sovereign nation that we just didn’t like.  Saddam was terrible and so was Qaddafi, but getting rid of horrible dictators isn’t our job.  And if it was, we’d be shitty at that job because Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is still ruling in Iran on a platform of American hatred, Bashar al-Assad is doing the same things to the people in Syria that Qaddafi did to the Libyans, and we’ve definitely let Kim Jong-il get away with developing and testing nuclear weapons in North Korea while also starving his people and provoking South Korea and Japan.  Our foreign policy is hypocritical and that’s why it feels like we’re at war for nothing.  If we acted on what we said we believe, we wouldn’t be so cozy with Saudi Arabia, who is far more disgusting in their human rights abuses than even China.

I supported the Afghanistan War.  I felt that we needed to respond after 9/11, punish those who were responsible, destroy the Taliban, attempt to destabilize and destroy al-Qaeda, and hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden and the leaders of al-Qaeda.  I think that President Bush should have committed more troops to Afghanistan from the beginning, and the Iraq War never should have happened.  That would have allowed us to focus that attention on Afghanistan (or Pakistan, if it was necessary) instead of getting bogged down in a war with a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.  The War on Terror, of course, is not simply an Afghanistan War, but I feel like a more concentrated focus on Afghanistan would have ended our campaign in Afghanistan and helped began reconstruction.  Now, we’re 10 years on in Afghanistan and it’s still not a completed mission.

Will the War on Terror ever truly end?  Probably not in the next few Presidential terms.  Besides Afghanistan and Iraq, I believe we currently have soldiers (or “advisers” if you want to use Vietnam-era language) fighting, training, assisting, or operating in some form or another in the Philippines, Somalia, Yemen, Mali, Djibouti, Niger, Nigeria, Liberia, Chad, Libya, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, Kenya, Ethiopia, the Seychelles. Colombia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guyana, Suriname, Australia, Korea, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Burundi, Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia, the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and scores of other nations that I’m leaving out.  I think we have Americans troops either fighting, stationed, or operating in some fashion in 130 countries around the world.  It’s insane.

So, I definitely supported the war in Afghanistan from the beginning, but I wish that I was optimistic enough to feel that there is an end or an exit.  I’m happy with President Obama’s aggressive targeting of al-Qaeda’s leaders.  We’ve killed a lot of top terrorists in the the past three years.  I’m just not sure how or if we’ll know that our mission is complete.  The War on Terror has already been going on longer than American involvement in the Civil War, World War I, and World War II — combined.