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PEACE: Foreign Policy & Terrorism | September 21, 2003



An E-Mail Delivered to an Influential Democratic Newsgroup 

This was one of my published replies to one of several responses generated by my e-mail published in an influential Democratic newsgroup about General Wesley Clark as a newly announced Presidential candidate.

What's the saying?  War represents the ultimate failure of diplomacy?  Absolutely.  What's the other saying?  There has never been a good war or a bad peace?  Well, as far as I'm concerned, that's only half right...

You know, I have had this discussion repeatedly with my father -- a volunteer for the US Army Air Force in WWII but the most anti-war person I know -- in hospital on the East Coast, he saw countless men returning from Europe without arms and legs -- no one hates war or supports virtually any efforts, especially through the UN, to avoid war at almost all costs more than Dad.  And I love him for it.

So when I came of draft age -- just after growing up with the horrors of Vietnam on TV every night -- and I was to register, I had to wrestle with my conscience.  A priest at church offered to accompany any of us young men down to the Draft Board and testify on our behalf if we were to convince him that we were sincerely Conscientious Objectors -- that we were opposed not just to any war in particular but to all war in general.  I truly did not want to kill any more than I wanted to die.

So in my mind, I went down through history -- just as you have done, my sincerely conscientious friend (you've indeed dredged up memories) -- and even though I could say what might have happened or what should have happened at one point or another in history to have avoided one war or another, there were two things I just could not get past.

First, if General Washington had ordered me to go kill or die for the founding of this country, I would.  I still would (if not, none of these discussions would be taking place).  Yes, a peace might have been made with Britain; but it was not.

Second, the whole point is that the world is NOT perfect -- as much as we would want a world without war, and as much as we should always work to avoid war (as President Bush failed to do in Iraq and, if I may, as the Russians failed to do with their Serbian clients/cousins in the former Yugoslavia [Please see my reply about the war in Kosovo, led by General Clark]), WAR -- LIKE SHIT -- HAPPENS.

And this is not just hollow rhetoric with me.  After wrestling with my conscience, I registered for the draft as 1A:  I bet my life on my beliefs, and sweated it out for years until I was beyond draft age.  Thank God I was never called up, as when Iran took our hostages.

To me, one of the best ways of avoiding war -- or, as in Iraq, of getting out of war -- or, as with the terrorists, getting the upper hand -- is to have someone in charge who is much more mature and sober than Mr. Bush.  From what I've read and heard, I believe Gen. Clark is such a man.

And his level-headed positions on domestic issues -- like progressive taxation being not only the fairest but also the most effective way to stimulate the economy -- only confirm that belief.

But I've been wrong before (more times than I can count).  I'm keeping my eyes and ears wide open, with ALL the candidates.

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