The Price of War

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The Cost of War: Steep and Irreversible
by Jack Random
The Battle for Basra gave way to the Siege of Sadr City, leaving in its wake a broken Iraqi government, the promise of inclusion irrevocably betrayed, a surge of violence, death and destruction, and the words of General David Petraeus on the progress of the war still ringing in our ears:  “Fragile and reversible.”  

In contrast to his first testimony before Congress, the second round of the Commander’s report to Congress elicited sympathy.  It was sad, even tragic to witness yet another military leader playing point man for the White House in defense of a strategic catastrophe.  
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After an explosion of violence, the stunning defeat of government forces and the subsequent disenfranchisement of arguably the most powerful and influential Shia party in Iraq, with missiles raining down on the once secure Green Zone, the best the General could do was to claim progress that was “fragile and reversible.”  

After five years, at a cost approaching a trillion dollars, with 4036 dead American soldiers, tens of thousands wounded and as many or more than a million Iraqi dead, with apologies to the General, “fragile and reversible” is no progress at all.  

The die is cast, the outcome set in stone, yet the costs of war continue to be manifest in new and disturbing ways:  A mounting trade deficit, the national debt, a falling dollar, the price of food and gas, a stunted economy, an emboldened China, a stark reversal of fortune in Afghanistan, and global instability from the Middle East to Africa to Tibet and Haiti in our own back yard.  

Preoccupied and overextended, having lost our economic leverage and diplomatic grounding, America is absent on the world stage and struggling to pull out of a precipitous economic decline at home.  

An honest and candid commander, with the interest of the nation over the president at heart, would testify that our strategy in Iraq is doomed and intractable.  He would testify that our president no longer listens to his generals on the ground unless they tell him what he wants to hear.  He would tell us that this president is dug in and will not move.  

An honest commander would inform us that neither he nor his fellow generals nor the soldiers who must pay the greatest cost have any choice but to suffer through the remainder of the president’s term.  

He would tell that our only hope is to contain the damage insofar as it can be contained.  

He would warn us that as bad as it is it could be much worse.  Our president has been given the authority to strike at Iran on the slightest pretense.  This president or the next could use that authority to open the floodgates of an expanded war that would render the very concept of victory at war obsolete.  

The stone cold truth is we are already engaged in a war that can never recover its burgeoning costs.  Every individual in America, in Iraq and throughout much of the world will be paying the cost of this war for the remainder of our lives and our progeny will continue to pay for generations to come.  

We will pay in so many ways that we cannot now foresee.  There will be blood for vengeance is always answered by vengeance and violence feeds on itself like gasoline on fire.  There will be economic retribution; economies will collapse.  There will be realignment of global powers.  There will be poverty, hunger and disease.  There will be environmental disasters on a global scale that will still the world in horror until we are numb to massive casualties.  

The elder historians will look back and proclaim:  This was the time when we should have read the signs, we should have known, should have learned, and should have acted to unite the world in common cause.  

The writing on the wall was clear yet we squandered our energies, our resources and our precious time on wars for profit, power and greed.  

We will define the human tragedy: That we could have done so much yet we chose to do so little.  

It is a dark foreboding vision, the legacy of modern warfare, yet I refuse to believe it cannot be redrawn.  The people of this world are neither vengeful nor greedy.  We do not wish to visit death, destruction or misfortune on our neighbors.  We want to live and let live in peace and contentment.  We want the freedom to conduct our lives according to the will of our hearts.  
It is not the people who are to blame; it is the leaders who have wandered astray.  

It is for us particularly in democratic nations to choose our leaders wisely and bind them to a course of action that will bring an end to war and christen the beginning of a new age of unity and common cause.  

Jazz.  
 
 
JACK RANDOM IS THE AUTHOR OF THE JAZZMAN CHRONICLES (CROW DOG PRESS) AND GHOST DANCE INSURRECTION (DRY BONES PRESS).  THE CHRONICLES HAVE BEEN POSTED ON NUMEROUS CITES OF THE WORLDWIDE WEB, INCLUDING THE ALBION MONITOR, BELLACIAO, BUZZLE, COUNTERPUNCH, DISSIDENT VOICE, THE DAILY SCARE, THE NATIONAL FREE PRESS AND PACIFIC FREE PRESS. SEE WWW.JAZZMANCHRONICLES.BLOGSPOT.COM 

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