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Political Frivolity (maybe)

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

North Korea? Not again..please...


Mama take this badge from me
I can't use it anymore
It's getting dark too dark to see
Feels like I'm knockin' on heaven's door


I am not a pacifist. Nor am I an anti-war wacko protester. I do not hate my country. I hate what my country has become. I despise the deaths of young soldiers for the sake of politics. I cringe every time I hear a politician speak of “instilling democracy on a global scale”. My throat gets dry when our leadership speaks of “the importance of western culture and values” with respect to despotic nations.” In short, is it so difficult for our talking heads in Washington to open up a history book and just peruse? From the murderous crusades of the middle ages to the Ottoman Empire to the Arab-Israeli conflicts to the Palestinians, from the 38th parallel in Korea, to the Ho Chi Minh trail in southeast Asia, to Iraq, to Afghanistan, from the halls of Montezuma to the shore of Tripoli. Yikes!

The Korean conflict was the launching pad for the United Nations to make a statement. Senator Tom Connally, of Texas, summing up Congressional opinion of the Korean crisis three days after the invasion:

"[Korea is] the clearest test case that the United Nations has ever faced. If the United Nations is ever going to do anything, this is the time, and if the United Nations cannot bring the crisis in Korea to an end, then we might as well wash up the United Nations and forget it."

This conflict was clearly a test case for the new United Nations, kind of like assessing the functionality of a new model of automobile. The only problem with this analogy is the chess pieces were young soldiers half a world from home fighting for a phantom cause to ”stop Communism in its tracks”. This was the original “Domino Theory”, which predated the Vietnam War. The goal of the aggressor in both conflicts was to unify the communist north and the “democratic” south under one, communist ruled country. This quickly became a proxy war, with the North Koreans supported by the Red Chinese, and the North Vietnamese armed by the Soviets. Each time the peace talks resumed, and the Chinese retreated, the UN/US would gain a few paltry miles of ground. When the Chinese decided to reenter the fray, the UN/US would lose the gains, and more blood was spilled.

"On the other side of every mountain was another mountain."

Lieutenant Colonel George Russell, a battalion commander with the Twenty-third Regiment of the Second Infantry Division, describing conditions in Korea.

Prior to the Korean War, the 38th parallel was the separator between the north and the south. After the armistice, the 38th parallel still delineated the border. So, after the untimely death of some 60,000 U.S. soldiers, what changed? What did we gain or lose? We lost 60,000 young lives. Vietnam was a carbon copy of the Korean War, with very similar results. The difference was we lost in Vietnam and not because of any lack of courage or heart from the guys on the ground, but a lack of political will precluded any chance of victory. After an estimated 2 million civilian deaths and over 1 million soldiers KIA (not including the 60,000 U.S. soldiers), we are left with the very same questions regarding the good and the bad, the ying and the yang, the positives and negatives associated with post war analysis. What was so unique about Vietnam that set it apart from Korea? We had the benefit of history on our side, refused to consider the consequences of entering a conflict so fundamentally similar, and as a result have lost so many lives needlessly. The same could be said about Iraq, and to a lesser degree, Afghanistan.

At the end of the day, the “Domino Theory” was just that, a theory that didn’t pan out. Fifty-six years after the cease fire in Korea, and (24) years after the fall of Saigon, we have normalized relations with a unified Vietnam, and have successfully isolated a backwards and Communist regime in North Korea. North Korea has one of the largest standing armies in the world, is poised just north of the 38th parallel, is test firing long range missiles, and have successfully completed an underground nuclear weapons test.

What does all of this mean? It means we should close down military bases in South Korea and Japan, get the hell out of there, and finally let those in the region take care of their own business. Let’s face it, we, as a nation are not well liked or respected globally, for reasons unfathomable to this author. How many more will die for nothing? How many sleepless nights will there be for those who have lost a loved one to a cause they just can’t quite figure out? Is it going to be different this time? Our federal government is like the alcoholic who says “tomorrow will be different, tomorrow I will be able to just have a couple of drinks and that will be all....” Is this all about some warped sense of absolution or expiation? Is the promise of valor and freedom enough to line up the body bags in a neat and orderly fashion? Not when it is meaningless. Bring 'em home. Bring 'em ALL home. Alive.

History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again. - Kurt Vonnegut

We learn from history that we learn nothing from history. - George Bernard Shaw

Mama put my guns in the ground
I can't shoot them anymore
That cold black cloud is comin' down
Feels like I'm knockin' on heaven's door

-Bob Dylan-

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