The mayor of Hamburg was recently interviewed for a Canadian newspaper and he
said one of the reasons Germany is reluctant to get involved in Iraq -- besides
the fact that it's much closer, and despite Germany's reliance on ME oil sources
-- is that many Germans still remember the war. He said something to the effect
that if the death of 2500 people in the WTC bombing has moved the United States
in such a way (and he fully sympathized, btw), just think of what Hamburgers went
through in the famous Feuersturm, about a week of intense RAF bombing that turned
the middle of the city into a literal firestorm, feeding itself with gale-force
winds coming in from the perimeter. 35 000 people died in a week. You can say
that, well, they were on the wrong side. Okay, but the point is simply that they
*know* war. And I believe Gary when he says that there are USAmericans who *know*
war, too, and aren't eager for it.

Gary Smith wrote:

> Having a tad bit more experience with the military than Mark (20 years
> worth), let me say that I disagree with Mark's generality. Most volunteer
> soldiers today (very different than the ones drafted for Vietnam) DO care
> about whether a war is just or not. Most did not want to go into Somalia,
> Haiti, or Yugoslavia, and it had little to do with being away from their
> families. It was a matter of whether it strengthened the USA and
> supported its interests. Most soldiers would prefer we back out of some
> overseas areas, including much of the Middle East. Except for those
> soldiers who love living in Germany, most really don't see a need for us
> to be in Europe anymore, and would prefer we pull more out of there.
> The volunteer military is very conservative, compared with the rest of
> the nation. I would guess that 85% voted for Bush, rather than Gore.
> Compare that with the rest of the country, which was split down the
> middle. Given a choice, most would rather watch Fox News channel than CNN
> or MSNBC. Most desire to defend freedom, which is why we are eager to be
> in Afghanistan, and why many want to go into Iraq. They see the potential
> dangers of Hussein, and realize that it will only become more dangerous
> down the road. Many soldiers prefer being called "peacekeepers",
> realizing that we won the Cold War with few shots fired (with exceptions
> for Vietnam and Korean conflicts). But they love freedom more than peace,
> and are willing to jump into the fray to defend it.
> Exceptions? of course there are. But I want you to know that I'm proud to
> have been part of the world's best military over the past two decades.
> I'm proud we haven't been war hawks, yet have gone to battle when our
> nation's leaders have ordered it-whether we agreed or not.
> And I'm mostly proud of how we have defended freedom and reminded the
> rest of the world of the importance of freedom and democracy. We were
> condemned for invading Afghanistan. Yet, there is not a single woman in
> Afghanistan who is not happy to have us there today. And there are many
> other peoples just yearning to be freed from their dictatorial leaders.
> We don't have the right to step in and overthrow just any nation. But we
> do have a right to defend our own nation from real threats, and let the
> ensuing freedom be an example for the rest of the world. Kind of like
> what happened to socialism under the Reagan administration. It lost to
> freedom, proudly waved.
>
> Now, is a war with Iraq just? I guess it depends on who you ask. Bush and
> others may have hidden agendas, but I can assure you that the average
> soldier doesn't. Why would he? What is in it for him to go to battle,
> risk death, so he can collect $150 month danger pay? I don't think so.
> Our soldiers see the danger of that area of the world. They have been
> serving there on and off for over twenty years. We were in Iraq with
> Carter, Lebanon during Reagan's years, Kuwait with Bush Sr, Somalia with
> Clinton, and Afghanistan with GWBush.
> Has American policy affected some of the actions? Of course. But soldiers
> aren't involved much in political issues. Once ordered, they obey. Many
> soldiers would disagree with the tinkering our nation does in many other
> nations. However, they also see the good we've done, delivering millions
> of pounds of food and goods to them. Do you leave them alone, or step in
> and keep the people from starving? To step in, means you'll step on
> dictator toes, which is exactly what we've done in many instances.
> Many of our soldiers didn't want to be in Vietnam, most questioned
> whether it was a just war or not. Clearly, the answer was not cut and
> dried one way or the other. Even clearer was the political actions of LBJ
> and others in getting us into the war, then just allowing the war to
> drift for years. Today it is different. We are always looking at the
> Vietnam syndrome, when considering a war: do we have actual goals, is it
> in our nation's interests, etc.  Yes, sometimes we still stray, and
> soldiers still obey. Yet, I've seen many in retirement become major
> critics of the decision makers. And so they should. That's what will help
> keep our nation free.
>
> K'aya K'ama,
> Gerald/gary  Smith    gszion1 @juno.com    http://www
> .geocities.com/rameumptom/index.html
> "No one is as hopelessly enslaved as the person who thinks he's free."  -
> Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
>
> Mark Gregson:
> As a side note, my extremely limited experience shows that most soldiers
> don't think about whether a war is just or not.  They oppose war because
> it takes them away from loved ones, is generally an unpleasant experience
> and they know they could be maimed or killed.  No theory, just
> self-concern.
>
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--
Marc A. Schindler
Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada -- Gateway to the Boreal Parkland

"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and
falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark."
--Michelangelo Buonarroti

Note: This communication represents the informal personal views of the author
solely; its contents do not necessarily reflect those of the authorís employer,
nor those of any organization with which the author may be associated.

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