The Generals got the medals, the troops got the injuries — and nothing was won.

What is the best way to show respect for our armed forces personnel?

Stop wasting their lives!

Nobody wins a war — except those who sit home and profit from it. We need to spend our defense and security dollars (not to mention our personnel) more wisely and effectively. Then we need to take the savings and invest them in infrastructure and public service programs that will reduce poverty and provide real security to millions of Americans.

Back in 1936, poet Carl Sandberg wrote an epic poem titled, “The People, Yes.”[2] One line from that poem has been repeated many times throughout history.

“In the 1960s, several variations of an anti-war slogan began appearing on posters, in print, and in songs. The version that became most common (as shown by the comparatively huge number of Google hits it gets) is “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came.”[…]

In the poem, the line is said by a little girl who sees a group of soldiers marching in a parade. It’s from a part of the poem in which Sandburg seems to foresee the potential devastation of a second and possibly a third world war:

“The first world war came and its cost was laid on the people.
The second world war — the third — what will be the cost.
And will it repay the people for what they pay?…
The little girl saw her first troop parade and asked,
‘What are those?’
‘Soldiers.’
‘What are soldiers?’
‘They are for war. They fight and each tries to kill as many of the other side as he can.’
The girl held still and studied.
‘Do you know … I know something?’
‘Yes, what is it you know?’
‘Sometime they’ll give a war and nobody will come.’”

It has been over eighty years since that poem was written and our soldiers are still being killed with nothing to show for it. Makes you wonder if Trump may have some validity when he calls our heroes ‘suckers’ and ‘losers’. As a society we venerate, honor, and revere our brave men and women who serve and sacrifice while defending our country and way of life. A close examination of the facts reveals that the US has not won a war since WWII. Bet you never thought about that ugly hidden shameful fact. We have fought in many, but they all ended without anything we could call a victory. If we didn’t win anything, then does that belittle the sacrifices people made? No! But it should force us to make sure that we don’t engage in any more ‘wars’ without a very compelling need and a clear vision of what victory means.

America has fought in many wars since WWII, but I will focus on the US hostilities with Iran to illustrate the point. [Full disclosure: the following information may make you uncomfortable. If it does, good. I will have achieved my goal. The truth sometimes has that effect. If you’re interested in more detail of how outrageously the US and Great Britain behaved in stealing Iranian oil, read my earlier post titled, “When did Iran directly attack another country?”]

When did Iran last directly attack another country? The answer is 222 years ago.

President Trump authorized an attack on General Soleimani, an Iranian leader on Iraqi soil. The rational for the attack was that he was organizing an imminent attack on, … well, we’re not sure who he was going to attack, or where, or exactly when. But the ‘attack was imminent’ and he was a ‘really bad guy’, so it was okay to launch a missile to kill him and anybody who happened to be in his immediate vicinity at the time. YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! Have we totally lost control?

When did Iran directly attack another country ? The answer is 222 years ago. The Shah of Iran attacked Basra, Iraq in 1798. That’s it! Iran is not an aggressor nation. You may recall the late 1970’s ‘attack’ on the US Embassy. Fifty-two American diplomats and citizens were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981, after a group of Iranian college students belonging to the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line, who supported the Iranian Revolution, took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. This was not exactly a nuclear attack on US territory. It was a bunch of college kids trying to send a message. The message in general was for the US and Great Britain to stop interfering in Iranian governmental affairs and to stop stealing Iranian oil. Iran never attacked the US or Great Britain, despite decades of interference in their government and robbery of their oil. During these decades, the US has supported Iran’s regional enemies.

I could go on with pointing out how the US encouraged Israel to provoke Iran, but I believe my point has been made, the US is not in danger from an attack by Iran. In proclamations to a group of donors at Mar A Largo, the President said nothing about an “imminent attack.” Instead, he spoke broadly about Soleimani as the father of the roadside bomb, responsible for every young beautiful man or woman who you see walking around with no legs, no arms. Trump said he heard about two weeks ago that the United States had Soleimani under surveillance and he was “talking about bad stuff. He was saying bad things about our country, like we’re going to attack, we’re going to kill your people. I said, “Listen, how much of this shit do we have to listen to, right?”

Let’s consider what he said. He blamed the person that he ordered assassinated for our troop’s loss of limbs. Those IEDs were placed on Iranian soil to defend their territory, a very measured defensive response to our attack. The Commander in Chief (Trump loves that title.) was responsible for the injuries to our troops by ordering US troops into harm’s way without provocation. The US was the invading force. Iran was defending its territory. Imagine if the situation were reversed and Iran was attacking US soil. Would our tactics to defend ourselves be considered ‘terrorism’? U.S. media conveniently avoid defining “terrorism,” because a consistent definition would undermine the conventional usage — that terrorism is what you call weak, non-state actors using homemade bombs, regardless of their target. If you defined terrorism instead as “deliberately and violently targeting civilians for political purposes,” that would tend to rule out roadside bombs hitting U.S. military patrols, and rule in Saudi Arabia’s U.S.-backed bombing of Yemeni civilians.

What do you call it when innocent civilians get killed in a war? If the people are killed by a small group of dedicated (fanatical) Arab individuals, we call it “terrorism”. If they are killed by American military forces as a part of an attack on another country, we call it “Collateral Damage”. Critics of the use of the term “collateral damage” see it as a euphemism that dehumanizes non-combatants killed or injured during combat. It is used to reduce the perceived culpability of military leadership in failing to prevent non-combatant civilian casualties.

The number of Americans killed by Iranian terrorists in the US from 1995 to 2020 is zero. The number of civilian Iranian casualties, collateral damage, from 1985 to 2015 as a result of American attacks was about 1,000. I say about, because actual numbers are impossible to find. Many of the numbers are cavalierly determined by estimating them as some percent of the total killed. The percent varies from 1% to 35%. The issue is compounded by President Obama’s redefining “Militants” as “Any military-age males in the area”. By that definition, no military age males can be counted as collateral damage.

The US has spent many years and millions of dollars painting Iran as a terrorist sponsoring country. But, is it true? The last time the US was the victim of a major terrorist attack was on 9–11–2001. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen all played a role. Not Iran or Iraq. So, who did we attack? We attacked Afghanistan and Iraq. Remember the lies we were told about WMD’s (Weapons or Mass Destruction) in Iraq. Not true. As of July 7, 2018, there had been 2,440 U.S. military deaths in the War in Afghanistan. 1,856 of these deaths have been the result of hostile action. 20,320 American service members have also been wounded in action during the war. In addition, there were 1,720 U.S. civilian contractor fatalities. We have been fighting in Afghanistan for over 18 years, with no sign of winning, and no exit strategy. Why does the war drag on and on? Fear of terrorism leads to more military spending. There have only been 71 deaths caused by Islamic terrorists in the US in the past five years, and 48 of them were at one event in Las Vegas; and none of them can be linked to Iran. If Iran is not an aggressor, why is the US attacking it?

Sanctions were imposed in December 2006 pursuant to UNSC Resolution 1737 after Iran refused to comply with UNSC Resolution 1696 which demanded that Iran halt its uranium enrichment program. Initially, U.S. sanctions targeted investments in oil, gas, and petrochemicals, exports of refined petroleum products, and business dealings with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). It encompassed banking and insurance transactions (including with the Central Bank of Iran), shipping, web-hosting services for commercial endeavors, and domain name registration services. Subsequent UN Resolutions have expanded sanctions against Iran. Remember, Iran has not attacked anyone for over two centuries. All it has done is try to get back what has been stolen from it. The UN sanctions have devastated the Iranian economy and caused great suffering for the Iranian people.

Over the years, sanctions have taken a serious toll on Iran’s economy and people. Since 1979, the United States has led international efforts to use sanctions to influence Iran’s policies, including Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which Western governments fear is intended for developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons. Iran counters that its nuclear program is for civilian purposes, including generating electricity and medical purposes.

When nuclear talks between Iran and Western governments were stalled and seen as a failure, US senators cited them as a reason to enforce stronger economic sanctions on Iran. On 2 April 2015, the P5+1 and Iran, meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, reached a provisional agreement on a framework that, once finalized and implemented, would lift most of the sanctions in exchange for limits on Iran’s nuclear programs extending for at least ten years. The final agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was adopted on 18 October 2015. As a result, UN sanctions were lifted on 16 January 2016.

Under Obama, we negotiated the JCPOA Nuclear treaty that included releasing billions of Iranian dollars that had been embargoed. It was their money! The Iranian people had been suffering for decades for no reason other than the US and British wanted control of their oil.

You can’t buy the Trump lies about Iran being a terrorist nation unless you also buy the definition of terrorists as ‘small groups of people fighting to defend Iran from outside attacks and occupation’.

This is just the US hostile involvement with Iran. By most rational analyses, the US is the aggressor. Our military personnel and contractors continue to fight, suffer, and die while gaining nothing except profits for defense industry companies. Any thorough unbiased analysis of the many other US military actions since WWII will produce similar lessons and conclusions. This must stop!

Allan is a lifetime educator with two daily goals. 1) learn something. 2) Make the world a better place.