War is Hell

When the photographs of American soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners came out, I wasn’t shocked. I was heartbroken, sad and even a bit bitter, but not shocked. Simply put, I understood going into this war that these types of things happen in war and that, no matter how many conventions you hold, no matter how much you try to civilize war or how much you try to humanize the enemy, war, fundamentally, is a brutal struggle that invariably brings out the worst in mankind.

Instead, what I’ve found shocking is the surprise from the rest of the country. More than any prisoner abuse scandal, I find the naivete of my fellow Americans far more surprising. It’s become painfully obvious that, most of those who were in support of the war, felt we were going in to fight a John Wayne war where we would liberate the people of Iraq, kill the bad guys, be lauded for our efforts and go home heroes.

If that’s the case, then clearly America has a very short memory.

After all, if Korea and Vietnam hold any lessons for us, it’s that our past attempts to “liberate” other nations by force always wind up becoming a mutual contest of disturbing behavior that shows exactly how low people can sink when their lives are on the line. Be it throwing a grenade into a schoolhouse or torturing Iraqi prisoners with electrodes in hopes of extracting information, the concept is the same, survival at any cost.

On a related note, I’ve also observed, but am not shocked by, the lack of outrage from the Arab world over the brutal deaths of Mr. Berg and other Americans killed in Iraq, even though the American abuse of Iraqi prisoners had made headlines across the globe. Though the lack of condemnation and outrage is regrettable, it isn’t shocking either.

After all, what else should we have expected when we go alone to invade an Arab country, overthrow its leaders and then fail to find proof of justification for that war. No one, Arab or otherwise is saying that Saddam was a great man, but those much harped-on WMDs never turned up and the entire justification for this brutal war fell through.

Instead, what’s become painfully obvious to me is that America was not prepared for this war. Our gung-ho mentality, especially among our leaders, hid the fact that we had long since forgotten what actually goes on inside a real war. Perhaps the first Persian Gulf War with its speed and multinational support had softened us to the harsh realities of an ongoing conflict, perhaps we, as a nation, gave in too easily to the Bush administration’s propaganda or most likely, we’re just a nation with a real short memory, especially when it comes to our human flaws.

Basically, anyone who supported the war in Iraq but now decries the prisoner abuse needs to ask themselves a hard question, “What did you expect?” If you beat the war drums, but didn’t expect things like prisoner abuse, outrage from the Arab world and atrocities on both sides, you went into it blind. There’s no way around it, especially in light of recent events.

As a nation, we should have expected this. We should have known that there’s no other outcome of war than inhumanity and cruelty. I’m not a peace-loving pacifist by any stretch, I realize that war has its place and can be very necessary, but these are simple truths about war that should be weighed before going into battle, not regretted afterward.

Personally, I was against this war from the beginning and the reasons above were among the ones I gave. I couldn’t understand how so many others could favor such a needless war, but now, I believe I see the problem. In short, we, as a country, let our naivete and idealism get in the way of our better judgment and memories of wars gone by.

As a result of that error in judgment, we’ve lost the moral high ground in Iraq (if we ever had it in the first place), we’ve stoked the fires of Muslim terrorism in a way Bin Laden had only dreamed of and done so much damage to our reputation as a nation than it will take decades, if not centuries, to even begin a repair.

Therefore, all that I can hope for is that, as a nation, this embarrassment teaches us something and that this time the lesson sticks with us. Yes, war can be necessary, justified and good, but getting ourselves into senseless and needless wars only brings about pain, suffering and more problems than ever could have been solved by the actual conflict.

In short, war is a last resort, not a tool to achieve an end, and any other use of it is going to spread only misery, not freedom, wherever we go.

A lesson now learned not in history books, but on the news.

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15 Responses to War is Hell

  1. Bran. says:

    Exactly, Raven. But this also gives rise to the thought that all those news reports never give you the whole, complete and uncorrupted truth to begin with, either…

  2. Emberstar says:

    I agree 100 percent. I was not at all shocked. And when I hear family friends ect. talking about, well can you believe we did this? I'm like yeah. What's the big deal? War is ugly.
    My husband is in in the army, set to deploy in early 2005 with the release of the new Stryker units. I hate this war. I don't want him to go. But feel I have to support it, because by not soing so in a way we're not supporting him and other troops who really would rather be here with their family's.
    Bin Laden should have been our only target as far as I'm concerned. I mean that dude sent people here to our land to attack us. That justifies retaliation. I believe that should've been our top priority. Instead the war on terror is put on a side burner while we focus on Iraq.
    I am usally toward the republican side.
    But this year I dont know if voting Kerry will help to turn things around and bring my husband back sooner or not. If so he has my vote. That's my main concern.
    Anyway that's just how this 21 year old girl see things.

  3. Shireath says:

    yup I agree with you raven. I wasn't shocked at the pics, that stuff happens in war.
    I was more shocked at the sheeples reaction.
    Just proves to me that PCness is going way
    to far. There is no moral highground in war,
    if your going to fight a war, there is only
    one rule…win. I agree with the comment about the media, they spent hours showing those pics and talking about how horific they were. but no mention to the fact that those people were possable terrorist with information that might save lives. like how did they expect to get the info out of them, by asking them nicely? give me a break. Time to start spending as much time on the atrocities the otherside is doing…like the beheading, the suacide bombers excetra. give people the real story. but that's not going to happen unfortuently. casue the truth isn't news.

  4. keesha says:

    i try talk talking to the people at shool about this. but they look somethingthing elas. its like if someone elas is doing something bad; we good nuts; but if usa does something bad who cares. we all konw you wan't find it on tv

  5. Dedrodri says:

    That….is exactly what ppl need to realize. Raven knows what war is better than any news-sucking politic ever could, and my admiration for her just shot up ten points.
    You know the greatest thing that mankind can do to help themselves? Be unafraid of death. I mean, we're all going to die someday, and I'd rather die for my country than for my couch and television. When it comes to war and when and how to use it, Raven has a point: War is the ugliest thing on earth.

  6. Lauren says:

    ok, first of all how much of this story do you actually know? All the people that complain about these pictures only hear the 60 seconds of bad news that CNN talks about. Did you know that that was just one unit, in one of the many other prisions. All of the military is not bad… that was one bad spot in something good the troops are doing. ABUSE? I'd hardly say that that was abuse. if i were in jail id much rather have my genitals laughed at then have my head SAWED off of my body by my Iraqi captives, like Nick Berg… so yea, talk ill about our troops, they're only fighting to save your life.

  7. Erin says:

    I don't think I read one part where Raven spoke ill of our troops in general. I think that Raven spoke ill of the war and of some's poor actions. It is a horrid war, and just because Arabs were meaner in that sawing thing, doesn't mean that we should be excused. Also, because not everyone listens to all the information doesn't mean that if you do … you will get the entire story. I think that Raven came off very level headed, a few people have become very outraged about things that they themselves are lost about. I don't think anyone will know the entire story for years to come.

  8. Tom says:

    Before I say anything… war can be justified but I don't believe it can ever be "good" so I have to disagree with you there Raven. Sorry.

    Anyway, I was for this war being born and raised in New York City. If a day like that can happen due to terrorists I believe they should be eliminated. My view has caused many more *wars* in my life between myself and people I've been close to. So I also believe that war… in all of its forms… is inevitable as long as we remain the human beings we are. However, I don't agree with what this war has evolved into. Thinking more about it and with what Raven wrote it seems very much that all we have done is create more reason for terrorists to attack again and many of them already reside in the states. I don't know where we go from here or what to do but I have a hope of my own that whoever is leading our country in the future has a head on their shoulders and not some sort of a war hungry power trip if what Bush is doing can be called that.

  9. Mags says:

    I've been shocked and disgusted by this war since the very beginning. Yes, the pictures of the prisoners being abused shocked me, but not any more than everything that has come before. Just naive, I guess. Sucks to be me.

  10. Sinsade says:

    Prehistorically, war arose to retain or aquire resources. During the period of hunter-gathering bands there was little need for war. The people did not own land and did not cultivate it. When people began to put their labor into the land they also became possesive of it. Defensive war is understandable when you consider the blood, sweat, and tears poured into the cultivation of the land. Fast-forward from hunting-gathering times into the times of colonial expansion. Europeans stole a vast amount of land and resources from the middle eastern peoples. The opressed becomes the opressor. Terrorism springs from colonial expansion;it is a necessary repercussion.
    Raven is totally correct in saying that we are only making terrorism worse. The western cultural mindset is so completely different from the middle eastern mindset. We are naieve to believe that our values will be accepted by these peoples. We are arrogant to believe our ways are better.

  11. Lycosidae says:

    Our country and its leaders always seem so hellbent on "liberating" and "saving" other countries from their horrible dictators and other such type leaders. Haven't we tried this time and time again? Don't we see how it DOESN'T WORK? I hate the fact that Americans always fail to notice that everytime we attempt such a stunt, bad things happen to our country and the countries we are "helping." It never turns out the way that we plan, but no one seems to care. History repeats itself, but that idea obviously hasn't gone through Bush's head yet. America is not a knight in shining armor, Iraq is not a fairy tale princess being trapped in her tower by the evil dragon, Saddam. The people who are against the war tend to be the ones causing it. The ones who want the American armed forces to fly over there and drop food and supplies to the Iraqi people are the exact same people that are wanting to send the armed forces there in the first place.

  12. Ivy says:

    If experience is our best teacher and history always repeats itself, how valuble is experience? Seriously.

  13. Lady Ravana says:

    I'll admit, there is no glory to be had in war, no matter what the commercials tell you. They made the war seem noble and just, when it was neither in truth. It's all so very meaningless. All this war has brought is unspeakable suffering and grief on both sides. It is truly sickening.

  14. Mark Sandino says:

    Greetings everyone, regarding 'war is hell' yes war is hell among other things the governments of all countries do to their people.
    Very well written Raven.

    Bush, family & company have crosses the line quite awhile back. Their agendas are very clear yet a great number of the general American public supported the invasion and genocide they called "war". They have divided the people of America, and will continue the destruction here and abroad.
    Our soldiers, and innocent children, women, and men from Iraq and Afghanistan are getting killed over power trips the corporate rich have created in the name of so-called "freedom", "democracy" and now Bush claimed at his inaugeration that his doctrine is to: "Spread Liberty throughout the world". Liberty………………………
    Bombing, and destroying countries is not liberty.
    This guy is an unfunny clown in a three ring circus trying to play ring-master. Un-educated fool.

    Shocking to know that he had his forty million plus inaugeration for the second time while the families of dead U.S. soldiers are grieving for their loved ones as well as the Iraqi people grieve for their own.

    I kept a newspaper clipping/photograph that shows Bush and his wife dancing together with a huge smile. At the bottom of the photo it reads:
    Smiles All Around
    NIGHTTIME SWIRL: President Bush, with wife, Laura, dance at the Texas-Wyoming Ball at the Washington Convention Center. "We're having the time of our life", the president told revelers during the inaugerational night festivities………………………………..Great going, having the time of their lives?
    while our soldiers and Iraqi citizens perish hour after hour for his, his family and his corporate monsters? Wake up America!
    I am a Vietnam Veteran who experienced the worse in southeast Asia as my Vietnam war Veteran brothers and sisters did. We faught for not freedom, but to benefit the currupt who want global power, insatiable psycho's with no regard for humanity.
    This Bush family & company are as evil as they come.

    Mark Sandino
    Vietnam Veteran

  15. Brenda says:

    this was really interesting. i find it hard to find people with the same views i have. nice work.

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