War is war no matter what President ignores it

September 19, 2014

Less than five years after the end of WWII the North Korean army crossed the 38thparallel and started what the politicians and diplomats would dub a “police action”. By the time an armistice was signed three years later over 36,000 American servicemen had lost their lives in that “non” war.

In August, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson used his edited version of events to get the Senate to pass the Gulf of Tonkin resolution that marched America straight into the hell of what was coined the Vietnam “conflict”. Over 58,000 men and women in uniform lost their lives in that “non” war.

Talk to any of the survivors of those events and I guarantee you they will not hesitate to call them the wars that they were.

During the 1990’s the United States and our interests around the world were attacked repeatedly by Islamic radicals at war with us but it was a war that President Bill Clinton refused to acknowledge. Choosing to instead treat them as isolated terrorist “incidents” deserving of criminal investigation but not worth the time, resources and strategic planning needed to win the war.

The first World Trade Center bombing in 93, the Riyadh attack in 95, Khobar Towers in 96, the almost simultaneous 1998 bombings of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the devastating 2000 attack on the USS Cole that left seventeen sailors dead and very nearly put her at the bottom of Aden harbor were to be adjudicated in courts of law rather than defeated on the field of battle.

And yet for all that historical evidence, for all the facts that we now know, that one basic truth is being ignored again by yet another administration.

No matter what the Obama administration says, it was not “work place violence” when Major Nidal Hasan killed 13 in the name of Allah at Fort Hood.

When U.S. military personnel were put in harms way in Libya against Muammar Gaddafi it was more than a mere “kinetic military action”.

And just because one does not like term “war on terror” and instead starts calling it an “overseas contingency operation” does not mean that the enemy at war with us yesterday magically becomes a contingency that can be managed tomorrow.

The refusal, reluctance, call it whatever you will, of the Obama administration turning itself into a pretzel these past few weeks to insist that the U.S. is not at war with ISIS would be laughable if the stakes weren’t so high.

With no stabilizing force left in Iraq and President Obama erasing his own red lines faster than he could declare them, ISIS has grown into a self financed force with seasoned officers, western educated sympathizers working a PR and social media campaign never before seen and more misguided volunteers joining daily.

But whatever politicians say we are currently “at” with ISIS no longer matters.

The only thing that matters now, is if this President, in his last two years, can for once in his life admit he made a mistake and for once in his Presidency start accepting the advice of the military that will now have to clean up the mess he allowed to spread.

Because whether a soldier dies in a “police action”, a “conflict” or an “overseas contingency operation”, the hole left behind for family and friends is never filled and the pain never eased.

And with published reports showing close to 2000 American military personnel already back in Iraq, no amount of Presidential wordplay can hide the truth that their boots are ground zero in an already very real war.

Publisher’s Note:  A version of this column first appeared in the September 19th, 2014 print edition of the Joplin Globe.

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