By Jim Lee: PNT columnist
Celebration certainly isn’t the right word, but we recently observed the second anniversary of going to war with Iraq.
When talk of sending combat troops to that country began, just about everybody I knew assumed war was inevitable. I appeared as an invited guest on a TV talk show with three professors, two of them history professors. It taped before the American first strike but aired afterward. It came off as a very timely show because we all spoke as though the war had already started.
The certainty of pending war was about the only thing everybody I knew agreed about, but opinions varied on when actual hostilities would begin. Opinions varied on a number of other related matters, too, sometimes quite radically.
I compared George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq to Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939 and Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Nobody agreed with me on that one.
I suggested that this marked the beginning of another Vietnam situation. Nobody agreed with that at the time, but a number of people agree with it now.
I spouted off about weapons of mass destruction being a lie and a Nazi-like pretext for an unjustified invasion and war of aggression in violation of the Geneva Convention. Again, nobody agreed with me, not any more than anyone agreed with my prediction of Condoleezza Rice replacing Colin Powell as secretary of state.
When I suggested it was hypocritical to complain of alleged weapons of mass destruction when the USA had more of them than any country in the history of the world — well, that was considered a really dumb thing to say.
I heard a wide variety of opinions on other matters, too. Among these were whether or not this was a war for oil or if Iraq had a connection with the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Some people spoke against the war. Some spoke in support of it. I heard one person, a highly educated and intelligent person for whom I have great respect, actually say the USA should drop nuclear weapons on Mecca (the Muslim holy city).
Dissenting opinions didn’t bother me. What bothered me was what I did not hear. No one (myself included) pointed out that Congress did not declare war, even though the Constitution says only Congress can do that.
In fairness to the present administration, however, I should point out that two Democratic presidents sent our military into harm’s way without a declaration of war: Truman (Korea) and Johnson (Vietnam).
As a matter of fact, in spite of all the armed conflicts in the past 60 years or so, the last time our country (i.e. Congress) declared war was Dec. 8, 1941.
As we enter our third year of this undeclared “war” (police action?), one that was proclaimed won and over with hundreds upon hundreds of lives ago, we need to think about what this kind of war has ever done for our nation or anyone else’s.
Remember the big banner on that ship saying, “Mission Accomplished?” Well, what is that mission? And what has been accomplished? Are we engaged in Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Enduring Fiefdom? Are we liberating or conquering Iraq? Do they want our form of government, or do they want to be left in peace to decide for themselves?
Of course we should support our troops. I know what it feels like to be hated while in uniform, and I refuse to repeat that. But this does not mean we should or should not support the war. All of us must decide for ourselves.
Oh, incidentally, most of Congress is up for election next year — maybe we should remind them of that.
Jim Lee is news director for KENW-FM radio. He also is an English instructor. He can be contacted at 359-2204. His e-mail: