Randy's Corner Deli Library

13 October 2008

Never Again

HBO's documentary "Section 60: Arlington National Cemetery" is must viewing for every American concerned with our future. The sights and sounds of grieving families over their loved ones' graves is almost too much to bear. How we have been shielded from the war in Iraq!

It's just unbelievable to hear one mother, probably younger than my own son's, telling the camera that her son couldn't wait to go and be a soldier - he left school in between 11th and 12th grades, joined the army, went to Ranger school, and ended up dead several months after arriving in Iraq. At 19. My son turns 17 next month.

Trust me when I tell you that the worst thing that this country ever did was agree to an all- volunteer army, because that was the end of the shared responsibility for the defense of and therefore the future of our country. The responsibility for the future lies with all of us, yet it is only a small percentage of usually lower income people who end up in the armed forces. I can't help but think that this burden helped to create what we now cavalierly refer to as "the culture wars". When one group of people is asked, implicitly or otherwise, to shoulder the real burden of war - the deaths of young people - they have a right to be angry with the people they think are responsible for the deaths.

There is no way that alleged leaders like George Bush or any other President that have taken this country to wars of convenience would be able to do so if it was the sons and daughters of the monied and powerful in this country, or even the sons and daughters of people like me who were burying their sons and daughters. Presidents and their advisors would have to deal with much more street protests, marches and demonstrations not unlike that which took place during the Vietnam War. People like me would NEVER allow such wars to take place. NEVER. There would have to be very good, very obvious moral reasons for going to war. Nothing short of actual danger to the Country or its absolute vital interests would do as a pretext for war. There would be no "Bush Doctrine" as there would be no "pre-emptive" strikes unless there was provable evidence - not subject to interpretation - that the USA was under direct threat. Nothing less can be demanded of our civilian leaders whose own sons and daughters would be coming home for burial in Lot 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, helping to shoulder the burden of grief over burying a child that is inherent in war.

I hope and pray that President Obama, Congress and the defense establishment are very, very careful in where they pick our country's battles. I, for one, will never offer up my son as a sacrifice to the hubris and arrogance that have characterized the last eight years of Bush foreign policy and which resulted in the war in Iraq. Never.

Randy Shiner

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