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More in Letters
One man's opinion
To the Editor:
Friends and Neighbors,
I served two difficult tours in South Vietnam in '68 and '69, and I have long held strong opinions regarding our nation's conduct on a global scale in terms of military intervention. As indicated by this letter, I honestly feel that we are on a dead-end street in this deeply rooted conflict taking place in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the like. Thanks for taking the time to read my commentary. Hopefully some of my thoughts can provide further insight toward bringing this dilemma to a sound resolution.
And crown thy good with brotherhood.
The way the world looks upon the powerful United States of America today has changed remarkably, and this stance towards one of contempt and resentment is not a good thing. Sadly, this is a direct result of our government electing to stick its nose into everyone else's business, like it or not, with inferior consideration towards the long-term outcome of our actions. We are often considered the bully on the block, and unless we take firm measures to counter this image of obvious hostility, we are looking at far more difficult times ahead.
It generates significant anguish to observe our elected officials spending vast sums of taxpayer monies on projects or goals that are easily deemed questionable as to long-term benefit, and these are not domestic issues that I refer to. Residents of the European community, South America, western Asia, the Middle East, China, Russia, to name but just a few, are frequently skeptical of the intentions our country has in mind. Their perceptions give rise for grievous concern, and this belief has become far more universal. We have extended our military might to all corners of the globe, and this show of strength has upset the forces of peace and harmony, like it or not. I seriously do not believe there is much to achieve by parking an Abrams tank on every street corner in foreign nations, or, cruise missiles on many of our naval vessels stationed around the planet, watching and waiting. We, long ago, created a just position in the free world by virtue of having always done what is simply the ethical thing to do, and we can honorably look back at what has been accomplished towards that right to live in a free, democratic society. But today, our role as a big brother to underprivileged nations and those in need is under scrutiny and viewed with contempt, to say the least.
A significant manifestation lies in the fact that most of the nations to whom we have given vast levels of assistance just do not want us around any longer. They have no desire to listen to a superpower trying to coerce them towards definitive modes of conduct that, in some cases, go against their very existence. At what point do we recognize the message that clearly says we are not welcome. Plain and simple, America go home.
In the years following World War II, this great nation provided huge sums of money and technical assistance to help a number of impoverished countries re-establish their global standing and economic opportunity. How many of these same nations have gone to our aid in years to follow as one incident after another has arisen? The number is small. The debacle in Vietnam gives rise to a dark chapter in our history. To have sacrificed more than 58 thousand military personnel before walking away from what is now an extremely sore issue with, amongst others, those of us who served is, indeed, a tragedy. We still haven't learned.
Today we see the results of poor leadership and direction in the conflict raging in Iraq and neighboring nations. For all our noble efforts, what we must realize is that our intervention is all essentially for nothing. Massive commitments of manpower and resources, no definitive course of action that can be singled out and followed with a reasonable expectation of success, and another rapidly rising death toll on both sides of this foray into danger. Mark my words: when this mess is over, there will be nothing to show for it except blood in the sand.
At what point will Washington realize that the smartest thing our country can do would be to bring our troops home, carefully examine our commitments in other parts of the world, and close our ranks. Much of the world has no desire to see the American flag on their shores. So be it. If religious fanatics want to expand their mission to higher levels in search of a cause beyond my understanding, make them understand one fact: If they rattle our doors, retribution is at hand, and let them know it. If they persist in their hostilities, we will sweep them off the lands they call home; and once it's broke, we won't fix it.
Several of the nations of the world have retreated to within their own borders, with absolutely no desire for guidance or assistance from us. That is, not until they realize an immediate and present danger. Again, we are not looked upon with favor in our efforts to warm up to those who might harm us. This has got to be accepted on face value; we cannot save everyone, and most of them would turn their backs on us as it is. Let the United States of America worry about its own people, protect its own shores; let those who would harm us be forewarned. As for the politicians in their relative positions of comfort in the Capitol building, give thought to those of us whom you truly do represent, and perform in a far better fashion than has been exhibited to date. Get closer to your roots and do what is right for each and every member of the populace.
Remember, without the rank and file of America and its people, you have nothing. As the older percentage of our populace nears the majority mark, make note that the power of our vote will soon be upon you, and you will be held accountable for your actions one day by the strength of that number.
Walter F. Putnam