As any poll will tell you, the standout candidates in the GOP race for presidential nominee are Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina and Dr. Ben Carson.
Pundits will tell you that the reason those three lead the pack is because they're not establishment types, not politicians. Except for Fiorina, none of them have ever run for public office before.
In this writer's opinion (I just promoted myself from blogger to writer), I think the reason they stand out is that they literally stand out. Carson is the only black guy, Fiorina is the only (let's just say female) and Trump is...well, Trump.
The rest of those guys are just a blur. You could dump them into a Bass-O-Matic and pour them into a mold that looks almost like Ronald Reagan. They're never going to look exactly like Reagan
Or you could just pour them down the drain and let Trump, Fiorina and Carson battle it out in a cage match. Think of that on pay-per-view.
The drum beat of the GOP generally sounds like a parade of combat boots. Some of the candidates have walked back earlier positions on sending ground troops into Iraq or Syria, but at the end of the day, they all want war with someone.
Somehow, war sounds so American, so patriotic.
Which brings us to my friend, Chris Ubs. Chris is a good guy. He works hard, spends a lot of time at his church and is a great family man. My only problem with Chris is that, like so many good Americans, he thinks that everything that's wrong in the world has one of two solutions.
We can either send in American troops or keep whatever troops we already have there (wherever there is) indefinitely.
I find that mentality twisted on many levels. To be clear, it is only that mentality that I find twisted and not those who share it. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs, I just don't see how sane people can hang onto those particular beliefs.
Historically, American intervention in Asia or the Middle East has never worked. Not ever, not once. To think that it might suddenly start working is like looking for your lost keys in the exact same place, over and over and over.
They're not there, look elsewhere.
To think that the rest of the world wants to be like us is hubris of the worst kind. Sure they may want some of the goodies the Western World has to offer, like jeans, ipads and punk rock, but they don't want to be us.
Democracy is tough business. Sometimes I think we don't even want to be us.
We can't make things work for them "over there." They don't like us, they don't trust us and, worst of all they turn on us every chance they get. Think about how many Americans have been killed by Afghani troops they were trying to train. And those were our friends
Until we perfect our little experiment in democracy, we should stop trying to run the rest of the world. All we can do is screw it up more.
The Vietnamese didn't want us and they didn't help us very much. South Vietnam's regular army (ARVN) fought alongside us for a while, but their heart wasn't in it and they couldn't be trusted. How could they be? They were a spin off of the French Union Forces from the days of the Indochina War.
Conventional "wisdom" on the William F. Buckley Right was that if we didn't stop Russia and the spread of communism in Vietnam, it (Communism) would spread to the rest of the world. This was known as the Domino Theory.
Better that they should enjoy capitalism, with Big Pharma, the NRA and Exxon-Mobil controlling their governments.
We got our asses handed to us in Vietnam and what do we have to show for it? 58,000 dead and over 300,000 Americans wounded. That war saddled our economy with runaway inflation and left our nation as divided as it had been in the days leading up to the Civil War.
Arguably, it was our policies in Vietnam that sent Saloth Sar (Pol Pot) into Cambodia to create a Communist Utopia. Pol Pot used the threat of American bombardment to evacuate urban areas of Cambodia, including the major city of Phnom Penh. Once in a rural setting, Cambodians were put to work, sent to re-training camps or killed.
About 2 million Cambodians were buried alive in what became known as the "killing fields." Pol Pot had issued an order for his army, the Khmer Rouge not to waste bullets executing peasants.
We armed the mujaheddin in Afghanistan to help them fight our old enemy, the Russians. You know that saying about nature abhorring a vacuum? Once the Russians cleared out, the mujaheddin, battle hardened and armed with U.S. weapons and whatever the Russians left behind became the Taliban.
We supported the Shah of Iran as he used his military and secret police (Savak) to suppress dissent, but when he was overthrown in the Iranian Revolution in 1979, he was replaced by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Do you see how it just never works out? Is it impossible to learn anything from history?
When we toppled Saddam Hussein, his Sunni supporters fled the reprisals of the Shia majority. They were bound to come back, because (here it comes) nature abhors a vacuum.
And comeback they did. They are now the leaders and tacticians of ISIS. It wouldn't have mattered when we left Iraq, they were waiting to take over. And if they got tired of waiting, they would have gone after the American occupiers.
They don't want us there. That was what set off Osama bin Laden and gave rise to al-Qaeda. Bin Laden was infuriated by American troops desecrating the holy lands near Mecca and Medina.
So, now Chris Ubs thinks we need to go into Syria and arm the moderates to fight ISIS and take down Bashar al-Assad. Like Hussein, Assad is unquestionably an asshole. The question, though for Chris and Bill Kristol and Dick Cheney (the latter two go on the list of assholes with Hussein and Assad) is this: how can you tell the moderate Syrians from al-Qaeda, ISIS or the next Taliban?
The answer is you can't and you have no way of knowing who you're arming or how it's going to come back and bite you in the ass.
Here's the thing about putting boots on the ground. Somebody's kids' feet have to be in those boots. I don't know many people who want their kids' feet to be in those boots.
Chris says that we've always sent our young people to war. He makes it sound reasonable. Except that it's not.
If you are ideologically committed to sending American troops into harm's way, you should be willing to either go yourself or send your kids. Maybe if we had a universal draft like they do in Israel, people would think harder about solving the problems of the world in ways that do not involve killing their own children.
We may have always sent our young men and women to war, but that doesn't mean that we should continue that practice. We've grown. We ended slavery. We have child labor laws. We gave women voter IDs and library cards. Haven't we evolved enough to stop killing and maiming our kids?
One last thing. Iraq and Afghanistan have already cost us somewhere in the $3-$5 Trillion range. If we're going to keep borrowing money from China, shouldn't we use it for things like rebuilding our infrastructure, retooling our industry, re-educating our workers, supporting child care and providing food for the 20 million American children who don't know when they will see their next meal?
Two questions to consider before you go:
1. Where in the Bible does it say that God wants America to make war on anyone?
2. Why is it that war sounds so much more patriotic than taking care of our children here at home?
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