Inside Perspective

Is America Going to War? Should We?
By Bob Dvorchak

I went to war armed with nothing more than a pen. I went through an out-of-body experience my first night in Iraq, looking down on a helmet-wearing figure digging a hole to sleep in, while awaiting the start of the main invasion that would come before dawn. It was 26 years ago, but it seems like yesterday and always will. War leaves a permanent mark, even on those carrying notebooks.

I come from a deep military family, and am a veteran. So when it comes to today’s saber-rattling in the new administration, I am full throated in my opinions. When tensions heat up and buttons are being pushed, I am reminded of what Robert McNamara wrote 30 years after what he called the mistake of Vietnam: “Real power is knowing when not to use it.” And, Carl von Clausewitz described war as an act of violence to compel a foe to fulfill our will, that war is the continuation political intercourse carried on with other means. My point of view is focused more on those in uniform who actually carry out these missions. In the words of Otto von Bismarck, anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eye of a dying soldier will think hard before starting a war.

I pray that the voices of combat veterans in the administration are being heard and considered. If the decision is made to hit Syria with push-button weapons, it’s crucial to ask what happens next, because that region of the world has lived on the premise of an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth for thousands of years. If the policy is to confront North Korea with military force, it’s important to remember that peace talks dragged on for two years in the Korean War, which was halted with a cease-fire but technically remains a state of war.

Even the mightiest military power in history must know your enemy. If we are to send America’s sons and daughters into harm’s way, let’s give them a mission worthy of their sacrifice and the risks they take.