A culture is made of shared moments. Of traditions. Stories around the dinner table, a campfire, traveling across country in a car.
It is these moments that make a nation from a geography.
Tonight I watched the celebration and memorialization of some of these moments on the PBS national memorial event from the Mall
War and the memorialization of war are part of our culture, too. We send our youth to protect our nation and to make others free. We tell stories, write books, sing songs and make movies of our wars.
But combat is not war. And combat without war, our youth fighting, killing, dying in the absence of a national commitment, using all national resources and demanding the support of national sacrifice to change the behavior of an adversary, has supplanted the good that can come from war.
I looked across the audience on the Mall tonight. I saw men and women who had answered their nation’s call. The WW2 generation knew they were fighting an enemy, a totalitarianism, an evil that had to be destroyed. They knew their entire nation was behind them, and sacrificing for them. They knew their sacrifice, and the sacrifices of their families, were not in vain.
But I also saw those of the Vietnam generation, and the kids who have fought, and been wounded or been maimed, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the parents of those who have been killed, those who did not LOSE their young lives, but had them taken from them.
These lives and families have been forever destroyed not in a national effort to destroy the spreading and evil totalitarianism of the enemy, an evil far worse than the NAZIs or Imperial Japan. Not in the national effort that is “war,” but in a distant conflict our leadership has, since 2002, willingly sent our best and brightest to fight – but not to win.
And our young men and women have answered their nation’s call. They have gone and they have killed and many have come home broken – or dead.
Are we to celebrate these warriors? Absolutely. They have willingly gone through what no one should have to go through. They and their families will be forever scarred from their having done so. And we as a nation are justly proud of them.
But – what of our leaders? These young men & women are willing to sacrifice their lives believing that those lives will not be wasted. That the sacrifices they are willing to make have a purpose. That their nation’s leaders, civilian and military, would never just throw their lives away.
But that is what our leadership IS doing. And what WE are allowing.
The Rules of Engagement under which our kids are sent out to fight are suicidal. No combat commander in our history would have accepted these ROE. We regularly rotate Generals, regardless of their results, in and out of a 7th Century “country” with which we have been engaged in combat for THREE TIMES LONGER than it took America to defeat, simultaneously, the two largest and most modern militaries ever assembled.
We call it a “war,” yet it is anything but.
We send men to fight, yet prevent their doing so.
We ask parents to sacrifice their children in a war we are unwilling to fight, that our Commander in Chief does not want to win.
Our field commanders send our own future – our kids – out under ROE that can only result in their deaths, that CANNOT result in victory, that ENSURES that those who have died have died in vain.
I looked across the Mall tonight and saw Americans in a treasured moment of shared story, of tradition. Of our culture.
And I wonder how long our military leadership will continue to send men out to die for no reason in a war our nation refuses to fight and demands not to win.
At what point does a military leader become an American and say, “No more!” It is the role of the military to defend America. Instead, they are killing it.
At what point does a nation recognize that combat without war is a vain sacrifice of its most important asset, it’s future?
I looked across the Mall and saw what our civilian leadership is destroying. I saw the destruction that our military leadership is willing to blindly follow.
I saw a culture proud of their warriors, but in the back of my mind I saw the tens of thousands who have died or been maimed for … for what?
I saw a culture – the culture of MY country, under assault. By our own leadership.
How many more?
I was a cadet at USAFA during Vietnam. I always have, and will, believe in my country.
But we let our civilian leadership sacrifice in Vietnam 58,000 dead and over a quarter-million wounded… for nothing.
We are doing it again. This time in a conflict our civilian leadership now publicly does not even want to win.
How many more will we accept? How many more coffins coming home, legless kids, armless or brain-damaged citizens who were unknowingly sacrificed by a civilian leadership willing that THOSE men die, but NOT willing to defeat the evil they sent those boys to fight?
And how long will our military leadership willingly accept orders to get Americans killed for no reason at all?
If we are going to fight. Fight a war.
If we aren’t willing to destroy our enemy, this fighting is immoral, the most immoral thing on earth: a culture sacrificing its best & brightest, its future parents, its citizens most-eager to defend their nation from an enemy our military willingly accepts we have no intention of defeating.
How many more, America?
How many more?