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Peace on earth and bombs away

Posted By David Hackworth On 12/24/1998 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled

Another Christmas. Another war. Another December where American troops stand tall on dangerous ground.

Since Pearl Harbor, that Day of Infamy on 7 December 1941, there has been no Peace On Earth and not much Good Will Toward Men.

America has been at war for 57 years. Before the cannons cooled from World War II, the Soviet Union, a key Ally against Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany, became our instant enemy.

This war, fluctuating back and forth from cold to hot, slaughtered millions of humans caught up in that forty five year mayhem.

Americans were part of the dying. They fought Red attacks in Europe in the mid ’40s, Korea in the ’50s, Indochina in the ’60s and ’70s, Latin America and Africa in the ’70s and ’80s. America’s longest and most costly war ended in 1990 when the Iron Curtain crashed, but still there’s been no peace. New world disorder replaced the Cold War, and the dying and the sacrifice continued.

Christmas of 1990 saw thousands of our soldiers deployed to the Gulf to put down the mad dog Saddam Hussein. And what a magnificent job they did. But George Bush blinked, and the dog survived to bark and bite again.

This latest violent round with Saddam makes even less military sense than many of the shoot -outs of wars past.

True, the world was treated to the most expensive four day fireworks display ever — to the tune of billions of American taxpayer bucks. But last Saturday night when the final million dollar missile flashed across the sky, nothing had been settled other than testing smart bombs for future wars, and sharpening the profit margin of American arms manufacturers. Meanwhile, forty percent of Iraqi crude oil is still being bought by
American oil companies.

And Saddam’s still out there, as defiant as ever, giving besieged Bill and the U.S.A. the bird.

Sure, we blew up a bunch of buildings, but analysts don’t have a clue what’s inside of today’s Iraqi rubble. Not much, I’d bet, since Clinton’s latest military folly was hardly a surprise. Saddam not only had months to hide his much hyped arsenal, he could predict the fireworks were about to start when the TV networks began setting up their cameras on Baghdad’s highest buildings just before the strike. Believe it, anything critical that wasn’t already stashed, got moved in a hurry.

There are nine principles of war — mass, maneuver, objective, offensive, surprise, security, simplicity, economy of force, and unity of command. If these rules are not followed, defeat stands in the wings. More principles were violated than were observed during our latest foray to Iraq.

It’s almost as if our military chiefs chose to ignore the rules of war that were learned the hard way over centuries of bloody conflict.

Perhaps too this war was not about taking Saddam out, perhaps there were other motives. Some are calling it another Wag the Dog, but I suspect Clinton’s bad military judgment came about because he feared being perceived as a commander in chief paralyzed by the impeachment process.

But why didn’t his military chiefs sound off over that fact that our forces were once again being placed in harm’s way on another mission impossible? Could it be that the lure of big paying defense jobs that normally follow high ranking Pentagon service kept them silent?

Six decades of seeing and studying war have taught me that war’s a racket. And the almost 200,000 soldiers spending this Christmas sitting in cockpits, foxholes, and manning ships at sea around the globe, defending countries that often want to be left alone — the often innocent victims of the racketeers – - deserve better.

Let’s all remember our soldiers and their sacrifices this holiday season. And let’s demand some answers too: What was the rush to take Saddam out the week before the most sacred religious holidays when there wasn’t enough time or force to do the job? And why wasn’t this operation executed last November, as the generals recommended, when forces were in position and ready and there was enough time to do a real job rather than this spectacular but ineffective pinpricking?

We owe our uniformed sons and daughters who won’t be here to share these holidays with us the answers to these hard questions.


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